With the start of a new school year shortly upon us, I thought it would be a good time to talk about some of the bare essentials that I have learned through my experience leading youth organizations.
Respect and courtesy earn courtesy and respect.
If you follow this rule, you’re 90% there already. Students really appreciate this. It means treating them with dignity and not talking down to them. When you treat students with respect and courtesy, they will act the same way.
You need to have a plan for your meetings. You won’t be an effective leader if you’re bumbling around, still trying to figure things out yourself. This does not mean just staying a week ahead; it means having a strong vision for what you want to accomplish on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis. Proper prior planning prevents poor performance.
Maintain high expectations and unconditional positive regard for each student.
If you let thoughts like, “she’ll never get this” or “he just doesn’t care” enter your mind, your actions will follow your beliefs, and you will fail as a youth leader. It’s true that not all students have the same ability, and it would be wrong to assume that they do. Maintaining high expectations is simply a belief that each student is capable of great accomplishments. Your job is to show them the way.
You will have students that are challenging. They will test you and, at times, annoy you. Youth leaders need to look through this behavior and see each student as a human being. Start each day with a clean slate. If a student made you angry yesterday, you should be delighted to see him today!
Teach kids first and content second.
Your organization’s goal, whether it be providing education, volunteer services, making art, or whatever, is important. But when you’re dealing with you, those things are really secondary. There is a saying in the teaching profession: “teach kids first and content second”. We should keep this in mind in any youth organization.
Photo credit: https://flic.kr/p/nxNiDK
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