Teaching Guide

Teaching PBIS: Leadership

Because your students will be our future politicians.


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Why hasn't there ever been a ship named The Leadership? It would be the perfect name for a battleship, or a submarine, or a zeppelin, or a spacecraft. It has "ship" right in the name! It's so unoriginal, that it, in fact, becomes original.

Leaders are the type of people who think outside the box… which sometimes means thinking inside the box. So maybe leaders are the people who know where they should best do their thinking. Outside the box. Inside the box. Beside the box with a fox in socks. Before we get too carried away, we'll lead you to our teaching guide.

In this guide you will find

  • discussion questions helping students define leadership, determine which leaders are good, and figure out which leaders are bad (like Darth Vader).
  • scripted lesson plans on communication, problem solving, and leading by example.
  • a group activity about group activities. Again, so obvious it's original.

So hop abord the USS Leadership—that stands for Uber Shmoop Spectacular on Leadership—and full speed ahead.



Today's lesson is all about communication, problem solving, and leading by example—three skills that are useful for would-be leaders, both at home and out in the real world. In class, students will put their noggins together to solve a series of brain teasing mysteries. For homework, they'll take stock of what it means to be a role model.

Before you get started, here's a video you can show to your class.

Key Skills and Learning Objectives

  • Communicating your ideas and listening to others'
  • Problem solving
  • Leading by example


  • Yesterday: Start thinking about leadership.
  • Today: Take a role model inventory.


Materials Needed: Copies of the "Riddle Me This" handout; instructor's "Riddle Me This" answer key; copies of the homework handout ("America's Next Top Role Model")

Estimated Time to Complete: 50 minutes

Leaders are communicators. Think about it: Malcolm X. John Wooden. Regina George. Whether they use their influence for good or for evil—I'm looking at you, Regina—leaders have the gift of gab, and it comes in handy all the time. Whether you want to motivate people, share a brilliant idea, or solve a problem, knowing how to communicate is key. And I don't just mean talking; I mean listening, too. Communication isn't a one-way street.

Communication is also super-duper important at home. For starters, it'll keep your relationships with your parents and siblings strong. If you can take the lead, articulate your ideas, and listen to others, there's no problem your family can't fix. Your household will run smoother than a Slip 'N' Slide covered in Crisco.

But wait, there's more: With great communication comes great responsibility. Establishing yourself as an attentive leader at home also means pulling your own weight around Casa de You, and showing respect for every member of your household. Yes, even your obnoxious little brother who secretly idolizes you.

For today's activity, you're going to pump up your communication and problem solving skills by unleashing your inner Sherlock Holmes-es-es and working together to solve a six-pack of brain twisting mysteries.

[Put students in groups of three to four and administer the handouts. Have each group appoint a scribe; they'll write their group's notes and answers on a separate sheet of paper.]

If your group is going to crack these cases, it's going to take talking, it's going to take listening, and it's going to take some creative thinking—all skills that will come in handy just about anywhere, but especially back at the ol' homestead. Good luck, gumshoes!

[During the activity time, circulate throughout the classroom to check for any issues. If a question or mistake is widespread, pause the class to address it as a group. If you want to allow students to ask you questions about the mysteries themselves, you might limit them to "yes" or "no" questions.]

[Give students thirty minutes to work through the six mysteries. Naturally, some will take more time than others. There's also a chance that a couple of your students will have heard variations of these old chestnuts before.]


[Reconvene as a class and go over the answers, one mystery at a time. Encourage all groups to share their answers, especially if they come up with different solutions. Even if they're wrong, give them the space to work through their line of thought]

[Then debrief. What was challenging about working together? Did a leader emerge? Did everybody's ideas get listened to? Which mysteries were the easiest? The most difficult? Did thinking laterally shake some cobwebs out of your brains? Was it difficult to communicate your theories? How can you use these problem-solving skills at home to be a better leader?]


What do you think of when you hear the phrase "Role Model"—you know, aside from a dopey 2008 Paul Rudd movie? [Discuss students' answers.] Tonight for homework, I want you to think about who your role models are, what qualities make them worthy of your esteem, and perhaps most importantly, what you can steal from them on your quest to become an awesome leader. Today we focused on two vital qualities of leaders: communication and problem solving. What else makes somebody a thoroughly boss boss? [Administer handouts.]


  1. What do you think of when you hear the word "leadership?"
  2. Who's the top dog in your household? You know, the boss? The big cheese? The commander-in-chief? Why?
  3. Why is patience an important skill for leaders?
  4. What does it mean to be a role model? Why are they important?
  5. List four to six things that are super-duper important to you. How does understanding your personal values make you a better leader?
  6. Why is it important for a leader to listen to others? Is it ever okay for a leader not to listen or to do their own thing?
  7. What are three ways that you can be more of a leader at home? If you already have some sweet leadership responsibilities, what are three ways that you can be a better leader?
  8. Does a leader need power?
  9. How can a leader avoid being corrupted by power and turned to the dark side like Darth Vader?
  10. Why is important for a leader to stay as cool as a cucumber under pressure?