The Leader in Me at Ralls County Elementary By Diana Duckworth, Elementary Counselor

by Diana Duckworth, Elementary Counselor

The mission of Ralls County Elementary is posted not only on the front office wall, but also in the hearts of every administrator, teacher, and staff member at our school. Our mission is simple and powerful: “To provide a leadership centered environment that honors the greatness in every child.” As a school, we are involved in Steven Covey’s Leader in Me initiative that works to develop leadership skills in our students. After all, every child has greatness, we just need to seek to find and foster that greatness and speak it so clearly that our children also see it in themselves.
Before going further, let me take this opportunity to introduce myself. My name is Diana Duckworth and I am the K-4 counselor at Ralls County Elementary. The Ralls County Herald Enterprise has graciously allowed me to write a weekly column to share the greatness happening at our school and with our students. It is my desire to use this column to introduce our community to the Leader in Me program and to showcase the wonderful students in our school. After all, one of the greatest resources we have as a nation is our children.
The Leader in Me program strives to teach “Seven Habits of Happy Kids” to students. The first habit, “Be Proactive” is the focus of this week’s column. Being proactive means, “I take initiative. I am in charge of me. I am a responsible person. I do the right thing without being asked, even when no one is looking. I choose my actions, attitudes and moods. I do not blame others for my wrong actions.”
I teach a life skills class each week in every K-4 classroom. At the beginning of the year I was teaching that in order to be proactive, we need to set goals and work hard to accomplish our goals. We talked about having a growth mindset. I told the students that they needed to have the courage to believe that they were capable of doing great things and then work to make their dreams a reality. I told them to never say they couldn’t do something. Instead I instructed them to say, “I can’t do that, yet.” Then I made a big mistake. Someone mentioned that they could hula hoop and I said, I can’t do that!”
You can imagine what happened next. I was caught in my own trap and the fourth graders in my class jumped on this opportunity to hold me accountable for what I was teaching. One of the students piped up and said, “You should have said, “I can’t hula hoop, yet!”
What a great teachable moment for me. I told them that they were right. It became evident that I needed to practice what I preach.
This year, all students and teachers were asked to write a WIG. A WIG is a Wildly Important Goal. In addition to writing the goal, action steps are written to pave the way for reaching the goal.
My WIG this year is to learn to hula hoop. I have always wanted to be able to hula hoop, but every time I hula hoop my body just doesn’t cooperate. I told the students my goal at the next morning’s school assembly and even stood before the kids and showed them how pitiful my hula hooping skills were. I even gave them permission to laugh “with” me before I attempted it. It was a great exercise in humility.
I can’t hula hoop yet, but I have a great motivation to do so now. I desire to learn this skill so I won’t let my students down. My action steps are to practice hula hooping five minutes each day and two days a week I go to recess with my fourth graders so they can teach me how to hula hoop. I love recess because these kids generally want to help me succeed and they all give pointers to help me out. Last week, I actually kept the hoop up for seven rotations and I think that I will probably win the hula hooping contest on the last day of school this year (or at least that is what I keep telling them!)
Being proactive is all about taking responsibility for our own life and our own learning. What a great lesson for adults as well as kids. The 7 Habits teaches about a concept called our “circle of control”. There are some things that we can control in life (who we hang out with, healthy/ unhealthy lifestyles, etc.); but there are other things outside of our control (how others react to us, divorce, sickness, etc.). It is great to know that happiness comes as we focus on those things we can control, and let loose of those things that we can’t.
I will leave you with this challenge. What great things would you accomplish if you were not afraid of failing? Be proactive and develop a growth mindset. Step out and attempt to do great things. Our children are looking up to us. Let’s not let them down, as our future depends on it.