As a classroom teacher, I often shared with the children one of the biggest things I enjoy the most--making a difference in the lives of others. This was central to my teaching philosophy, and when schools foster the spirit of servant leadership within their students--whether they are in school, home, or the community, they become productive citizens who make positive and meaningful contributions. Although Make a Difference Day is typically celebrated on the fourth Saturday of October, here are several ways to connect your curriculum and servant leadership in a meaningful way for your students:
1. Read a book highlighting the various ways we serve our community. A great suggestion for you to use is Beyond Government, a book written by Frank Muschal. As it is a part of the Citizens and Government series, it highlights different areas of service from careers that primarily provide a service for the community to citizens organizing community cleanups. Have students discuss how each group of people are making a difference and then have them recall an experience that they have either being helped by someone or helping someone. You can find this and many other related books on Big Universe!
2. Write an essay about someone who made a difference. After finishing the essay, invite them to school for a Make a Difference Celebration, and have the students read their essays (or portions of their essays) in person or recorded. You can serve light refreshments afterward and have students help serve their guests.
3. Choose a class service learning project. Whether it is reading to younger students, collecting coats or food for those in need, or writing to senior citizens and members of the military, the class should take part in the decision-making, preparation, and implementation stages. Afterward, get students to express what they learned and how they may have made a difference by recording their reflections or creating a photo collage of them helping others to post on a bulletin board at your school.
4. Find a creative way to spread awareness. Have a Make a Difference Rally with a fundraising partnership with a community partner [ie. local service organization or nonprofit community group]. Make up a song or dance and record it for the school--or the world--to see via a video sharing website. Start a service club and have random days where you do acts of kindness for different grade levels each month. Use butcher paper and create a mural showing ways to serve others.
Remember, you don’t have to do it alone! Some of my most successful projects were in part because of the collaborations my class had with other teachers, so use as many resources as possible to make this a meaningful learning experience for your students. Let these ideas inspire you to make a difference!