The best educational programs use teacher mindsets as starting points for excellence.

Nothing significant happens educationally until teacher thinking leads the way.

In my research of primary school student leadership programs and school culture, it’s evident that the very best schools have undergone a rethink of how they view student leadership.

These teachers, to their credit, have scrutinised their world views about children and challenged themselves to change their mindsets when they fell short.

These best practice student leadership schools view students as:


1. Inherently capable

The more affluent we become as a society the less we expect of our children. When we expect less, they do less and inevitably they become less capable. The circle of incompetence is established and inevitably continues. It’s inter-generational.

Children are inherently capable of looking after themselves, helping others and taking care of adults if needed in extreme circumstances. Yet, this generation expects less of them.

Schools that produce capable students, and wonderful student leaders generally operate from the Can-Do mindset. That is, when kids can do something – pack a bag, make their lunch, organise a sports event – they let them do those things.

Teachers and parents then move into teaching mode facilitating student learning and leadership development. That’s when real learning happens in primary school student leadership programs.


2. Citizens now

School is life, not preparation for life.

One of the biggest traps for educators and parents is to simply view childhood as a preparation for the future. This view risks leaving many children behind, struggling with
self-doubt and anxiety.

When student agency is top of teachers’ minds children feel that they can impact their current lives. Giving students a voice as well as the ability to articulate their thoughts clearly and accurately form the beating heart of every school that values student leadership. 


3. Successful when they use a benefit mindset

Student success is currently being redefined by schools who are adopting the benefit mindsets. Educator Ash Buchanan, built on Carole Dweck’s Growth Mindset research to develop the exciting benefit mindset concept under the Positive Psychology umbrella.

According to Buchanan student success should be no longer seen as simply a singular accomplishment but viewed at a collective level. How can students contribute to the wellbeing of their class, school, families, and communities? How can students ‘do good’, not just ‘be good’ or ‘be successful?

Buchanan believes that teaching a benefit mindset in schools is one of the most sustainable ways of leveraging student potential.

Placing service and contribution at the heart of education is student leadership development at its purest and best.

Imagine what could happen in your school if service and contribution were central values that existed beside achievement, persistence, respect, and other core values.

The road to excellence

Excellence in student leadership development begins with redefining how your view students.

View students as deeply and inherently capable citizens who flourish when using a benefit mindset and you will be on track to developing a world class student leadership program at the core of wonderful student leadership culture.