Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Want more student involvement? Try student leadership

As educators we all know that research states that student involvement increases the likelihood of student success and achievement.  If you are a principal as I am,  you have probably spent time communicating to your staff, your parents, and more importantly, your students, about the importance of becoming involved and staying involved in extracurricular activities.

Why? Because students can list it on their resumes for college applications? Hardly. We know that we want students to become involved in clubs or organizations because students can practice forming strong relationships with other students and adults, develop important organizational and leadership skills, and yes, become better people,  And isn't that our larger goal?  If we develop academic success data but fail to create better people who can change other lives is that really an education?  No.

As Aristotle said, "Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all."

But having principals or teachers make announcements encouraging students to "become involved" is largely ineffective.  We can encourage, but student voice and encouragement is much more powerful.  We have found this out through trial and error and many other tries at encouraging student involvement, most of which were barely effective at best.

That is why today was another amazing day at Dublin Jerome.  Why?  Because our student leaders organized a Club Fair attended by hundreds of students during all three of our lunch periods.

Students at the Club Fair can even try out their skills, such as taking on other students in Chess Club.

These student leaders are our Celtic Advisory Program (CAP) mentors, part of our freshman transition program leaders, who first notify teachers via their advisers' school email the date and location of the Club Fair.

As part of the email, they sent out a template for the adviser to pass along to their club or organization's officers or student leaders.  The template serves as a model for a half-page handout each organization distributes at the club fair to interested students.  It lists the club name, adviser, basic purpose of the club, meeting information etc.

Advertised to all parents and students through social media, enewsletters and announcements, the Club Fair is open to every students during his/her lunch period.  Students leaders also make announcements in the cafeteria during all three lunches.  Although the CAP mentors specifically work with freshmen in freshman advisory periods, all students can enter the gym which is completely rimmed by tables and various club displays manned by enthusiastic student leaders.

Smiles abound as students pore over club and organization exhibits. 

Official clubs and unofficial interest clubs have sign-up sheets and exhort students using baked goods, interactive displays, and candy to sign up for their clubs.  Good-natured competition and fun embody the Club Fair culture and climate, with smiles all around.

Students leading students, students helping students.  And in doing so, student grow into better people,  And in the end, that is really what education is really about.


  1. Sounds like a great idea. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for responding. I hope you enjoyed the ideas.


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