Martin Luther King Jr. Day has come and gone for this year. I’m sure most of you had wonderful lessons and really made an impact on your students with Dr. King’s words and powerful messages. Why stop there? Just like we advocate for weaving SEL into every class and content area, you can weave Dr. King’s messages into most lessons and events in the school.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.There are plenty of articles to reference that show what traits good leaders have. This article from Inc. Magazine discusses 3 main skills that made Dr. King an incredible leader. What was #1? Empathy.

Martin Luther King, Jr. made it a point to spend time walking a mile in the shoes of the people he was fighting for.

We discussed in our last blog post how leadership is actually a combination of our foundations. We touched on the power of empathy and helping others. It can be argued that empathy is the most important skill needed for success. Empathy can help people be better equipped to work on a team, understand where other people are coming from when faced with a conflict and show they understand others when in leadership roles. While this is a trait that comes naturally in some students, we have provided lessons to show students what empathy is and how to show it.

As you continue to use Dr. King’s messages, it is a great time to work on career exploration. Focus on careers where leadership is obvious and explore what skills it takes. Discuss how people in workplaces might be leaders and see if students can come up with any examples. Weave it into your content area by choosing careers that students would use what they’ve learned. For example, discuss careers in marine biology and how the skills they have learned in science have equipped them with some of the knowledge they will need. Then explain some leadership roles a marine biologist might take on.

The teachings and lessons of MLK Jr Day are far reaching and should be revisited often. We have offered only a small sample of the many ways you can continue to spread his messages throughout the year. He was a strong advocate for education and would want his life lessons and legacy to have an impact on students every day – not just on his birthday.


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