Every school year when President's Day is coming up, I like to explore some basic citizenship ideas, through the process of electing a classroom President. The children will learn that, in an election, several candidates will present ideas; that all of the candidates do so with good intentions; and that they have the right to choose the candidate whose ideas they prefer - or to not choose any of them.
In our classroom election, we will elect a class President, who will also have a Vice President. All the children can be candidates, of course! They will put their idea forward if they want.
To kick off the lesson, we will describe the idea of a leadership team (for example, in the classroom there is the teacher and the teacher assistant). Most of the children are familiar with President Obama, who heads the leadership team for the United States.
To illustrate how the process works, my TA and I will each choose an issue and describe how we could improve it. We will hold a short debate, and the children will ask questions. We will explain that the children should think about our ideas and not just which person they might like more.
We will then ask the children to each write down an idea to improve the classroom (some of them ask their friends what they think should be different - pure empathy), an idea they would try to persuade us to put in practice if they were elected President of the class. With the ideas all written down, we will read each one - without saying whose idea it is - and allow the children to vote, by show of hands, to select the five leading ideas. Then we will have a second round of votes, with paper ballots, to choose among those five. The candidate receiving the most votes will be President, and the candidate with the second-most will be Vice President.
From a young age I want my students to understand that they can be the voice for others, and that their ideas can cause change!
In our kinder class the students around presidents day week interview each other and they discuss what they would like to see happening in their classroom. Afterwards they write their platform. It is interesting for me as a teacher to see our classroom through their eyes. Their needs and wants as well as for the students to see their classroom thought their classmates eyes and be willing to work towards their needs.
The understanding that every action has a re-action. When this ends their present their platforms and we then implement them in our classroom, some will require further iterations, but is of the utmost importance and a delight for them to see their needs/wants/wishes heard and accommodated.
once JAM always JAM!