a goal that is nothing less than making the world a better place

Be a postive ripple

A friend of mine wrote to me last night. He asked,

I am teaching a program called COAST – an outdoor education program for grade 10’s. One of the courses that I will be teaching in second semester, is Leadership and I immediately thought of you. I am wondering how you would structure a course now that you have gone through the various experiences with leadership that you have been exposed to. Any ideas you can send my way would be greatly appreciated – I am looking forward to putting together something really unique and making this course as innovative as I can.

This was my response:


First, download my master’s paper from here: Student Leadership Paper (direct link to pdf). Do NOT read the paper… no need to… Go to page 54 and see all the resources I’ve shared. Some of the activities are great warm-ups to get students thinking about being leaders.

How would I run the program? I’d challenge my group to make a difference in the world! Give them some options or they can come up with their own.

These videos make good discussion starters. Examples include: Raise enough money to build a school or do something like this on a global scale. Or even support a local charity… the key idea:
Do something beyond the school walls, be leaders in the community or around the globe.

Use blogs for your students and create an online learning journal for the kids, either as one shared blog or 1 per kid. Call it a leadership journal and make that the only think you “mark” – That said, don’t give marks! See Why letter grades/percents? (which I did for Planning 10 in your district 3 years ago).

So, give them something real and meaningful to lead and have a goal that is nothing less than making the world a better place.

Expect regular reflections and base you feedback on their reflections, not their successes/failures… Leaders that do not fail, are not taking enough risks to be good leaders.

Finally, for yourself, read The Tao of Leadership: Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching Adapted for a New Age and share parts like this with them, (also on page 120 in my Masters Paper). I’m happy to continue the conversation, let me know if you have any other questions and do keep me posted on how it goes!


A course like this opens the doors for us to be creative and so the only limits to what’s possible are the limits we create. So, what else might others want to suggest?

Cross-posted on Pairadimes for Your Thoughts.


  1. This is awesome, David, or is it Dave?

    We are really working on leadership education at our school too, and one of the great ways for our high school students to learn and practice leadership is to teach it to middle school students, both at our school, and in a project we are doing, for rising middle school student leaders from across the city. It feels great, and is great learning, for our 12th graders to mentor 7th and 8th grade students of wide-ranging diversity to be better leaders for their peers and their school communities– win-win-win.

    We are going to try to use some of your resources in our ongoing program development– I like very much the idea that leadership is about doing something, not just the idea or the practice but the accomplishment!

    Good collaborating with you here at CP!


    November 29, 2010
    • David Truss said:

      Yes, it has been, and it is, great the way a collective ‘we’ have been sharing and learning on Connected Principals.

      From page 38 of my paper… We were at a Grade 6-8 Middle School and our Grade 8 Leaders co-ran this event with me:

      The Grade 5 Leadership Retreats are excellent opportunities for students to
      have truly meaningful leadership opportunities at our school. Students use their
      experience at their own leadership camp/retreat to develop activities that teach the
      Grade 5’s leadership lessons, referred to as ‘Leadership Secrets’. Silver Server
      leaders are fully responsible for the running of the activity and they even come up
      with their own ‘secret’, which is incorporated into a reflective leadership journal that
      the Grade 5’s keep after the afternoon session.

      See Appendix C for resources that I used.

      I completely agree with you… the model is win-win😉

      November 29, 2010
  2. Monica Calligaro said:

    Teaching “leadership” by demostrating leadership is the key!

    December 14, 2010

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