“Attitude more than aptitude will determine your altitude.”

Ever taught a child a set of skills yet see little change in their behaviours? What do you do when you have drummed in the content in a curriculum area but the results don’t show? As an educator you probably examine your methodology to ensure that it hits the mark. You probably then make sure the content is relevant and pitched at the student’s ability levels. No flaws in either case!So, what is the missing ingredient?

Determinants of success

The impediment for many students lies with what habitually happens in the space between their ears.How students think about themselves and also about the tasks that confront them will ultimately determine their success. If you think you can succeed you generally will and, if you think you won’t, you will be on the money too. A student’s thinking habits are powerful determinants of success.

Effective teaching includes more than developing skills and behaviours. It also needs to tackle thinking habits. Michael Bernard, the creator of the highly regarded Program Achieve, recognised the importance of establishing positive thinking habits if students are to experience sustained academic success. He claims, “Extensive research reveals that what fundamentally determines how children achieve and adjust is the mindset they bring to life’s experiences.”

Five key mindsets for student leadership

  1. Speak Out. Presentation skills are essential for effective leadership. Yet speaking in public is a skill that few people have mastered. One of the keys to teaching effective public communication is to get the right mindset.
  2. Be Accountable. Leadership involves being accountable for yourself, for your group and to be accountable for their belongings and those of others. The notion of personal responsibility can be promoted through the mindset of accountability.
  3. Plan Ahead. Organisation does not come easily to many students. Thinking about what needs to be done, planning ahead and managing time are skills that enable many young people to become effective leaders.
  4. Work Together. Cooperating, encouraging and accepting others are essential qualities of an effective leader. Thinking how the group rather than an individual would tackle a problem or play a game are promoted through the mindset of working together.
  5. Tune in. Emotions provides important information that guide student thinking and attitude. The ability to recognise, label and regulate your own emotions and recognise and respond appropriately to the emotions of others is a highly valued leadership quality.

Student leaders need to put many skills and behaviours into practice to be effective in their roles.

For instance, when students truly work together, they will begin to share the ball around in a team game rather than be the star. They delegate jobs quite naturally rather than complete every task themselves.

By focusing on establishing leadership mindsets as well as helping students develop the various skills needed to become leaders in a personal or public sense, teachers are maximising the chances of training effectiveness.