Question for the Profession

How do we hold students accountable for practicing leadership?
By Nina Crutchfield, Local Program Success Specialist, National FFA Organization

We’ve got the textbooks with the title of “Leadership” on the cover that walks students through every theory that exists, but how do we hold students accountable for practicing leadership? Where in your grading system does the box, number, icon, whatever exist that identifies a student as practicing leadership?

As I sit and reflect on the students I have been blessed to teach through the years, I can identify those who practiced leadership, whether for the greater good or for evil. I remember efforts to direct their influence, but I’m at a loss as to how I held any of them accountable for at least attempting to practice leadership.

I’m forced to face the harsh reality that I didn’t. Sure, nearly every student was a dues-paying FFA member, but it was the usual 20 percent that did everything. Sure, when it came to grading time I had no problem nudging those students I deemed leaders past a percentage mark if they needed a bit of assistance. Sure, I used positive reinforcement to communicate when a student exhibited a positive leadership trait. But there was no real accountability!

I dare say that we hold our students and FFA members accountable for their academic performance. But I struggle with the idea of lacing their leadership performance through that system of grading. This is definitely one of those gray subjective areas where we can get ourselves in a lot of trouble with students, parents and administrators if we're not real careful and can objectively defend ourselves.

So, how do you hold your students accountable for practicing leadership? Post your ideas, system and resources on the NAAE’s Communities of Practice to share with all teachers struggling with this issue.