Courage through autonomy: Autonomía para la valentía

Faolan Jones

How do you inspire deep self belief in students who have spent years believing that they have limited potential? How do you build the courage to dream in students deprived of opportunity? How do you develop the independence and leadership in students that’s necessary for them to take ownership of their dreams and make them a reality?

These are the hard questions Claudia Araya (Enseña Chile ‘12) was confronted with when she first met her students in Limache, Chile. Claudia started to think about how she could create a space in her classroom for her students to build confidence and develop independence in order to successfully pursue an unlimited vision for their own lives.

1. Create a culture of support 
Claudia split her class in to small teams where students commit to support the development of their fellow team mates. This created a culture of support where students were encouraged to take joint ownership of their collective development.

2. Opportunities to practice leadership 
She assigned each team a group leader who was responsible for keeping the group motivated and focused. She invested time with each group leader to develop their leadership skills and then group leaders would model these skills to the rest of their group.

3. Let the students take center stage 
She designed her classes so that each group would work together to tackle specific maths problems & then nominate a member of the team to stand up and explain how they arrived at the answer to the rest of the class. The class as a whole would then offer feedback on presentation and grasp of the subject. This enabled Claudia to take a step back and let her students take center stage.

4. Explore pathways to achieving goals 
Claudia orientated her students to what opportunities were available to them. By dedicating sessions to exploring college course options and scholarship opportunities, she was able to raise her students' sense of possibility and prepare them to lead themselves in the next step towards their aspirations.

Join the Discussion

The work that Claudia has done with her students to build confidence and leadership exemplifies how building student leaders in the classroom prepares them to be leaders in their own lives and successfully guide their life path towards their personal goals and aspirations.  This video captures Claudia’s student Nicole just starting to discover her leadership potential by way of being a leader in her classroom but it is the beginning of her lifelong leadership journey.  Fostering student leadership to fuel system change was one of the main topics  explored at the Teach For All Global System Change Conference on April 4th in Santiago, Chile. Join the discussion by following @TeachForAll and @ensenachile on Twitter or search for the hashtags #TFALLNLT and #5AÑOSECH.