Leader In Me

Elementary SELect Program

Program Design

Leader in Me is a whole school improvement model that uses teaching practices to promote social and emotional learning for students in grades kindergarten through sixth grade. Leader in Me takes an organizational approach to engage all members of the school community, including professional learning that focuses on helping teachers collaboratively create a school culture where students and adults practice social emotional learning through a leadership lens as part of their everyday school experience. Leader in Me also provides yearlong, free-standing lessons for each grade-level that classroom teachers may use as they choose.

Leader in Me aims to shift mindsets with five core paradigms: everyone can be a leader, everyone has genius, change starts with me, educators empower students to lead their own thinking, and develop the whole person. The program provides teachers with a variety of practices that support leadership, culture, and academics.

The Leader in Me process has Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and The 4 Disciplines of Execution as its foundation. These principles and practices are prevalent throughout the process, including the staff professional trainings and in direct student lessons. There are also student leadership notebooks that students can use to record their learning. Lessons and teaching practices are designed to support both interpersonal and intrapersonal awareness and competence, including critical thinking, goal setting, listening and speaking, self-directed learning, and the ability to work in groups.

Implementation Support

Leader in Me consultants begin the implementation process by engaging a school in consensus-building opportunities to ensure staff knowledge and buy-in. Leader in Me is a whole-school transformation process that requires approximately three years to implement and includes five core training experiences.

During the first year (considered “Level 1”), staff participate in two full days of training in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People which provides a common language and is designed to lay the foundation for a holistic school culture. “Launching Leadership” comes after the 7 Habits training and is designed to help schools develop plans to bring the principles learned during the 7 Habits training into their specific context. “Creating Culture” is next. This training focuses on intentionally creating a high-trust culture. “Aligning Academics,” teaches goal setting and tracking through The 4 Disciplines of Execution, as well as introducing Leadership Notebooks and Student-led Conferences. “Empowering Instruction,” teaches empowering instructional strategies that are designed to help teachers shift ownership of learning to students.

The Leader in Me process includes on-site coaches. Coaches tailor learning experiences to the unique strengths, needs, and goals of each school. Coaches work with a school-based team consisting of staff members and teachers that is led by a “Lighthouse Coordinator”. Together with the coach, this team helps design and lead the implementation process. A variety of coaching session topics are available, examples include “Empower Student Academic Growth,” “Build a High-Trust Team,” “Close Your Class-Proficiency Gaps,” and more.

In addition to professional learning opportunities and coaching, Leader in Me offers a variety of tools and opportunities to strengthen implementation. For example, principals and Lighthouse Coordinators have two regional opportunities each year to join role-specific Professional Learning Communities. Teachers and administrators also have access to Leader in Me Online, where they can access curriculum, download student consumables, and view over 100 videos.

Evidence of Effectiveness

Results from a quasi-experimental study conducted from 2009 to 2015 support the effectiveness of the Leader in Me curriculum for elementary students. The evaluation included students from 154 schools in urban, suburban, and rural parts of Florida (Hispanic = 30%, Black = 16%, FRL = 65%). The evaluation found that kindergarten through fifth grade students who participated in the program had fewer disciplinary incidents compared to students in the comparison group (outcomes reported as a cross section approximately 6 years after baseline while controlling for outcome pretest).


Schilling, S. (2018). A quasi-experimental study of the effect of the Leader in Me school intervention on discipline incidents in Florida schools. Unpublished manuscript.