Build Leadership Capacity
Building student leadership capacity is a primary goal of the Design for Election Week Experience.
At Leadership+Design, we believe that youth voices and actions are valuable and impactful, and students of all ages have the ability to lead their peers. How much of this experience might you hand over to your student leaders to be the planners and facilitators of election-related conversations and activities?
The Election Squad
The "election squad" is a group of students from your school who are pumped up to get their peers pumped up for the election.
Maybe you already have a sense of the make-up of this student group or maybe you want a little help. We have some thoughts about the kinds of students who might make up the Election Squad at your school!
An election squad at any school may vary, but we suggest that schools have somewhere between 2-4 representatives from any given grade-level. These students may already be involved in parts of your school like student government, community service clubs, your student newspaper or yearbook staffs, but we suggest casting the net wide for the Squad and encouraging emerging student leaders. This is a great opportunity to build leadership capacity in students who may not have "elected" student government or other official positions or to work alongside those who do.
Consider the diversity of your Squad and include students with different political perspectives and who come from a wide variety of racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds, as well as students who identify along the gender and sexual orientation spectrums. This diversity will enrich the experience for all students and will also ensure that learning builds empathy and understanding of others' lived experiences that shape motivations, values and perspectives.
Middle School Student Squad
Middle school students, when given the opportunity, can develop skills in many areas. Middle school students can help with:
- Planning election day events.
- Making all-school announcements.
- Introducing speakers.
- Introducing conversation prototcols.
- Making signs and/or communicating meetings, events and conversations.
- Starting discussions with prompts.
- Co-facilitating a conversation.
- Asking questions.
- Getting other students involved.
Middle school squads leaders may need support with:
- Managing discussions and going deeper.
- Maintaining protocols and holding peers accountable.
- Handling logistical details.
Consider co-facilitating conversations with middle school squad leaders.
High School Student Squad
When it comes to high school students, they can and will step up when we step back!
Give high school students the option to lead the classroom activities and also get other students excited and engaged. When prepped and given the authority, high school students can:
- Explain and maintain discussion protocols.
- Plan election day festivities.
- Present on key election issues.
- Identify, call and introduce local speakers and guests.
- Create a school election blog and write posts documenting the school experience.
- Create election podcasts or a video series' to get other students involved.
- Facilitate or co-facilitate classroom discussion.
- Organize a mock election.
- And so much more!
So, before you (the educator) do any of these tasks, ask yourself, "Can I have students take this on?"
High school students may still need help managing boundaries with peers and navigating difficult and potentially heated conversations. But learning and growth is at the heart of this experience!
If you have questions about putting together your election squad you can post them in the Election Week Discourse Slack (which you have access to when you register for the program). We can respond OR you can get ideas and suggestions from other educators around the country,
(If you haven't already done it!)
Build empathy. Stoke civic engagement. Celebrate our democratic republic.
A calendar for election-week experiences.
Next week will share a suggested calendar of experiences for the election experiences. This calendar can be modified to meet the needs at your school. It's flexible and adaptable and customizable to your school.
Created with images by Element5 Digital - "untitled image" • Zachary Nelson - "Jumps" • The Phope - "Happiness of the sunset" • Element5 Digital - "untitled image" • Scott Webb - "👌" • Analia Baggiano - "Happy Hand" • Giulia May - "untitled image"