Last week something exciting happened for my little second grader. Her teacher split the class up into groups of four and they were to pick a leader for each group. The leader was to be someone they’d go to for the last month of class before asking the teacher a question. My little second grader was ecstatic to announce to me after school last week that she was chosen as the leader of her group. That surprised me,
not because I don’t think she’s capable but because generally those things always seemed like more of a popularity contest to me. She’s very well liked but it’s her first year at this school and the other kids have been going to school together since preschool. Nevertheless, I was excited and proud of her.
As we walked home I asked her a few questions as I tend to do.I asked her what it meant to her to be a leader. She told me that being a leader is about being a good helper. It’s not about being better or more than anyone. Everyone has their special talents and qualities and that everyone is needed in the group. She gave me an example of her liking dance and her best friend liking soccer. Neither was better it was just a difference and down to preference. She said the same was true for her friends in class. She told me she was very grateful they thought so highly of her and she was really surprised when the other three in her group unanimously chose her.
I asked her what the difference was between being a leader and being bossy. She told me that being bossy means telling people what to do. It can mean that you have people do things that you don’t want to or that you are higher than them. Being a leader means that you’re equal because everyone is all the same. That you are willing to be the same as everyone else you just have a different responsibility.
I asked what type of leader she’s going to be and she said definitely a regular leader not a bossy leader. Nobody likes to be bossed around and she’s just like one of them. I asked how she’d help someone that has a question about schoolwork. She gave me an example and in that example she gave the student the answer. I had her think about when we do homework together and asked her if I ever gave her the answer. She said no and then thought about it for a moment. Why don’t I ever give you the answer? Her response was, “Well you have before but when you do, it’s really hard for me to remember”. Exactly! Why do you think that is? “I guess because if you give it to me, it’s not the same as me working it out in my head for myself”. Ohhhh she gets it! She went on to give me another example of how she would help a group member if they had a math question and this time she explained how to get the answer so they could work it out for themselves. I told her that was an excellent approach! Sometimes people just don’t understand things the same way we do, what if you explained it great but they had a hard time understanding? What would you do then? She replied, “Well I wouldn’t get mad or frustrated, because sometimes we just need to see things differently. So I’d just try to think really hard to explain it in another way. And keep doing that until they understood. If I just couldn’t explain it in a way they understood, then I’d have one of my friends in the group help or the teacher because I did all I could.”
She said that even though she’s the leader, she might have questions because she can’t know everything! I asked what she’d do in that case and she said she’d ask one of the kids in her group because they might know the answer. If none of the kids in her group knew, then she’d ask the leader of another group and as a last resort ask her teacher. She told me that she already appointed one of the other girls in her group to be the leader of Lengua (which would be the equivalent of English class but since we live in Spain it’s Spanish class). She said that’s the class she struggles the most in so she’d have more questions than them. She said she’d feel bad not being able to help so it made more sense for the girl that has the highest grade in the group to be the leader of that class, that way she can help us. She said that made her feel good too because she had a responsibility.
I was so amazed by her after this 15 minute conversation! I was so proud of her and her comprehension and the maturity she displays at such a young age! It was a proud mama moment because sometimes you don’t think what you’re teaching is sinking in. Then something like this happens and all things spoken and unspoken are showing that you’re doing something right! I’m not tooting my own horn here folks but I asked her how in the world she knew so much about being a leader and what the difference between a leader and a boss was since it’s not something we’ve ever talked about. She said “Because of you Mom. You’re a good leader. You’re a leader to me and so I just thought of what I could do to be like you.” Oh my gosh, made me get all teary eyed on the walk home from school!
She was all nervous to go to school on Tuesday, hyper aware of being one of the leaders in the class. I told her to relax and just be herself, they’d chosen her for a reason and she was going to be great! She said that she just wanted to be a good leader and she took it seriously. I showed her a little picture I found on Pinterest that summed up our conversation the day before perfectly! That brought a smile to her face and she was reassured.
When I picked her up from school she was all but in tears! She’s been bullied most of the school year so I immediately thought it had to do with that. She told me that when they went to tell their teacher the name of the leader for each group, one of the girls suggested they take another vote and my second grader was no longer the leader of the group. She said she didn’t understand, just yesterday they all said that she would be the group leader and today one of them wanted a revote. She said the girl nominated herself and the other two voted for her. She said she’d never vote for herself! She nominated one of the other girls in the group (the one she designated as Lengua leader) and as we know 3 to 1 the other girl won the vote.
Now it all made sense, the popular girl won the leader position. I felt bad for her that she was so excited about it and then so let down. That’s the way the chips fall sometimes so I told her to shake it off. The funny thing about being a leader is you don’t have to be appointed or chosen, you just are. So even though her title was stripped it was just a title, she is all of the things that makes a good leader and her gentle actions, kind nature, considerate attitude and helpfulness is always welcome title or not.