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Inspired Teachers Foster Young Leaders

Seek to Build Confidence, Goal-Setting in Students

Students at Sparta’s Appleview Elementary are setting leadership goals this year, with the help of teachers who have spent the past two summers mastering the skills it takes to succeed.

When third-grade teacher Tammy Singleton and fifth-grade teacher Jenny Frazier attended a Teacher Leader Academy workshop at the Kent ISD, they were tasked with bringing a “change” project to their school. They chose to adopt “The Leader in Me,” a program that inspired them to change how they viewed their roles as teachers and individuals.

The Seven Habits of Happy Kids

  1. Be Proactive
  2. Begin with the End in Mind
  3. Put First Things First
  4. Think Win-WIn
  5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the Saw

More information on these habits from the Leader In Me

They proposed to the staff last spring a building-wide plan which would implement the steps from “The Seven Habits of Happy Kids,” a tool from “The Leader in Me” designed to help teachers pass on leadership skills to their students.

“Both of us thought, if we grew that much thinking of ourselves as leaders, having that confidence, how much that could do for our own students,” Singleton said.

Beginning this school year, students are charting their progress toward personal goals that involve curriculum and social skills.

Lawrence Thompson, a third-grader in Singleton’s class, said he’s working to bump up his reading level a few notches and focus on a couple of specific math skills.


“I’m going to do it by pushing my limits and reading every day,” Lawrence said, adding that he enjoys the task ahead. “I like to read different informational books. I like to read National Geographic stuff and fantasy books, about imaginary creatures.”

Third-grader Jocelyn Schoenlein sets her reading goal: “more minutes every day”

The Little Things Matter

Happy student habit No. 1 is “Be Proactive,” encouraging students to choose their actions and attitudes. The second is “Begin with the End in Mind” — setting a course for success from the onset.

“Having a goal is good, but unless you have a plan to go with it, it’s just a wish or a dream,” Singleton explained.

The goals aren’t just focused on learning, but on making the classroom environment work better.

“There’s tons and tons of pencils on the ground and we’re always short on pencils,” Lawrence said. “So I pick them up.”


Classmate Jocelyn Schoenlein thought of ways set an example and do her part outside of school. “If I eat something outside, maybe I sit on the deck, I don’t just chuck it in the yard,” she said. “I put it in the trash.”

Jocelyn is also attacking a reading goal by a simple method: “read more minutes every day.”

Students moved in November to habit No. 3, “Put First Things First,” and are nearing the halfway point of the yearlong initiative. The program’s purpose is to prepare students for longterm success as they face more complicated obstacles down the road, Singleton said.

“It’s really about teaching the students life skills that more and more, research proves, they’re not learning in the home environment,” she added. “It is more and more up to educators and school systems to be teaching them things for life.”


Teacher Leader Academy

The Leader In Me

The Seven Habits of Happy Kids

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