I know you've probably heard of Sheryl Sandberg (of Facebook fame) and her campaign to end the word "bossy" (read or listen to an NPR story HERE), but I was hesitant to come straight out and use that word in our class. Instead, I wanted them to think on terms of "boss" and "leader" to recognize the differences between the two and to think about their own language choices in the classroom, in small groups, on their sports teams, and more.
We first looked at this picture and talked about what we noticed:
They were then given instructions about our activity.
I had printed example cards on two colors: blue for boss and green for leader (although they didn't know that yet) and they needed to read their card and find someone with an opposite color card and opposite example (good time to incorporate the word antonym, too!).
I dismissed them to their tables and first had them converse with students in their table group to ensure they understood the word or phrase on their card. When they gave me the thumbs up, I told them to find their match and them meet to discuss why they went together and be able to give examples.
We then began assembling our Anchor Chart. Each pair would come to the front of the class and would explain which card was descriptive of a "boss" and which was descriptive of a "leader" and why. They gave examples and I elicited a lot of help from the classroom for additional examples and language that both a boss and leader may use during that example. I would tape the cards to the Anchor Chart and we continued through each pair. There were two groups of three (with two leaders to one boss) and that worked out perfectly with my class (definitely feel free to adjust if you have lower numbers).
Our completed anchor chart looked like:
It was so powerful to see how often kids may think they are helping, but instead find themselves on the "boss" side of the chart instead of the "leader." I know several of the examples are repetitive, but we really talked through these and used examples from our own lives to recount when using "leader" words and language set us up for success. I also explained the "me vs. you" mentality of bosses versus the "we and us" mentality of leaders.
Overall, it was a very powerful lesson and I look forward to referring back to this Anchor Chart this year, especially when "bossypants" behavior leads to conflict. I think these concrete examples can help guide the naturally strong leaders in my class to make better language decisions that can help grow them as leaders and really inspire others, just like the Adams quote!
If you'd like a copy of these cards and quote, you can download this as a *freebie* HERE. How do you address bossy vs. leader behavior in your class? Share in the comments, I would love to build on this lesson!