In this series about practices, strategies and tools used during remote instruction that should be considered to remain best practice as we return face-to-face, we will look at an idea from Larry Ferlazzo, called “Leadership Teams.”
The idea of Leadership Teams materialized when Larry Ferlazzo realized that he would need help teaching his classes fully remote, and what better people to rely on but his own students? So he began by identifying students he thought had leadership capabilities, and called them into a breakout room for a meeting. He discussed his expectations of the Leadership Team and gave the students an opportunity to ask questions before agreeing to be a part of the team. Once he gathered his team, they began working together with the rest of the class to help ensure success for all.
Requirements for Leaders
Some of the requirements to be leaders on the Leadership Team was that they had to lead breakout rooms, man the chat in video conferences or in a backchannel, welcome and assist new students, and meet weekly with the teacher to reflect, problem solve, and set goals for the upcoming week. Mr. Ferlazzo would ask them to rate themselves as leaders, asking questions like “How would you rate how you’ve done helping lead small groups this past week?”, and “How would you rate how you did in small groups to get everyone participating?”. The group would also recommend other students they felt were possible Leadership Team candidates. This model of team leadership gave everyone a chance for whole class success.
Face-to-Face Leadership Teams
So when we return to full time face-to-face instruction and learning, how can we, as teachers, initiate Leadership Teams in our classroom? Well, Team Leaders can still run small groups. Whether in a breakout room or in person, Team Leaders can still help to ensure maximum participation and interaction, and answer questions from other teammates. They may report back to the teacher about who may need more assistance, or about other challenges facing their team. They can also work with new students to welcome them and help familiarize them with classroom routines and procedures, as well as with absent students who may need some help catching up on missing work. And finally, they can continue to be good role models for kindness and good citizenship.
Finally, the concept of Leadership Teams is a great example of ISTE standard 7b: Students use collaborative technologies to work with others, including peers, experts or community members, to examine issues and problems from multiple viewpoints. Using videoconferencing or discussion boards for communication and collaboration with peers is an excellent example.
Whether online or in person, Leadership Teams in the classroom just seem to make sense.