The indispensable role that third-year students play beautifully illustrates the wisdom and benefits of letting children lead the classroom. The Grade Threes are critical to the success of our Montessori Lower Elementary learning community, helping establish academic, social and behavioural ideals by acting as role models, and providing expert guidance to younger peers.
Even during the first week of school, their leadership was apparent and invaluable. The Grade Threes each led different brainstorming sessions focused on formulating our classroom constitution, which is a student-generated body of rules and responsibilities that all children in our class agree to honour. Each third-year student worked with younger classmates to come up with ideas on how every person in class can show care for one another, care for our work, and care for our environment. They were excellent at scribing for their peers, and coming up with examples on how to use constructive language in the process.
Our third-year students are regularly sought out by their classmates for help in lieu of the teachers, and are articulate, fair enforcers of classroom rules and procedures. They are given real responsibilities, including the administering and checking of spelling quizzes, and the regular monitoring of playground equipment. Leadership opportunities are also often actively incorporated into their academic lessons, with follow-up work (and ultimate assessment of mastery) being presentations and lessons on the subject matter or concept given to younger peers. Doing so not only reinforces their own understanding of the topic, but also offers rich opportunities to develop confidence and communication skills. They are always so thrilled and excited to create fun and inventive ways to share their knowledge, often incorporating drama or art in the lesson for their classmates.