6 Tips for Keeping Leadership Notebooks Alive
August 14, 2018

Do you struggle to find time for Leadership Notebooks®? Have you ever found yourself around mid-December, looking back at notebooks that haven’t been opened since August? Leadership Notebooks are a lot like plants. If neglected, they’ll wither away…but if given regular attention, they’ll thrive—and so will students.

What notebooks won’t do, though—like plants!— is clamor for attention. It’s up to us to intentionally weave them into our classroom routines.

Try these six tips to help students care for and “feed” their Leadership Notebooks on a regular basis:

1) Build them together from the start.

Teachers commonly start work on notebooks before students arrive, often with a focus on data trackers. Let’s take a different approach. Let’s build the notebooks a little at a time, with a focus on student voice. Make a big deal of “gifting” empty notebooks. Maybe even wrapping them like presents! Ask students to decide on and create the cover. Encourage them to give beginning-of-the-year activities, like mission statements, interest inventories, and self-portraits, a more permanent home in their notebooks.

2) Model with a notebook of your own.

Create and share your very own Leadership Notebook, starting with a My Self section; students like learning about what’s most important their to teachers. As the year progresses, try modeling a personal WIG® in your My WIGs section or sharing your work on an action team in the My Leadership section. As students see teachers using Leadership Notebooks, they will become more independent in updating scoreboards and reflecting on progress.

3) Make them a Big Rock.

Build notebook updates into your daily arrival and dismissal routines. If a daily check-in sounds like too much, consider a weekly WIG Session. Think about a fifteen-minute “WIG Wednesday” slot, or a regular weekly time for students to huddle up with Accountability Partners to review and update their Leadership Notebooks.

4) Use them with small groups.

Students tend to write goals like “I’ll get better at reading.” Help them to be more strategic by creating goal menus, strategy pick-lists, and data trackers connected to small-group instruction. Update and reflect on Leadership Notebooks when small groups meet.


5) Hand the decision-making over to students.

Work with students to create a system the can use to identify items as “Leadership Notebook-worthy.” For example, include a sticker stash near the finished work basket so students can add stickers to documents they want to to include in their Notebooks. Or encourage students to use “ATB” to commemorate an “all-time best” performance destined for the Leadership Notebook. Dream with students and come up with ways for them to call the shots.

6) Tie them into leadership events.

Just coming back from a field trip? Returning from Club Day? What about a schoolwide celebration? Invite students to flip to the My Leadership section to write about those experiences. Include school, class, and community events as a way to ensure Leadership Notebooks are more than data notebooks.

When we give attention to Leadership Notebooks, we give attention to student growth. Learning to consistently care for and “feed” Leadership Notebooks helps students build habits for life-long learning! Which of these six tips will keep your students and and their Leadership Notebooks healthy and fruitful?

Learn More

Watch this video to learn more about Leadership Notebooks.


Use this Leadership Notebooks eModule to think about other systems!

Classroom Resources:

Not sure about what all goes into a Leadership Notebook? This handout outlines five sections commonly included in a Leadership Notebook.

Check out these handy templates for Leadership Notebooks.

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