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Beyond Popularity: Lessons to Teach Through Student Council Elections

A student council refers to a group of elected and volunteer students who join hands to serve other students with the help of adult advisors such as teachers. Students who win elections must work within the school’s constitution or bylaws while executing their duties. Through their involvement in early leadership, managing school affairs, and initiating activities, student council members have the opportunity to experience leadership and encourage others.

Due to the stakes at hand, most student council elections are usually intense. Everyone is campaigning, seeking votes and approval from other students. However, for teachers, these elections can be an opportunity to teach about civics, the electoral process, campaign politics, historical contexts, and current political affairs. Here, we provide you with resources, lesson plans, and other election-related content to help you teach through student council elections.

Teaching Tools to Help You Teach Through Student Council Elections 

Student council elections are worth more than popularity — they are an opportunity for others to learn too! The following teaching tools will help you prepare lessons to teach before, during, and after student council elections:

Teaching Tolerance 

Students must learn about voters’ rights, why voting is important, and the deadlines. The main focus of these two-to-three-week teaching tools is to help students understand the need for democracy in elections. It also empowers them to be advocates for civic participation in their local communities. You can find the Teaching Tolerance guide here.

Teaching the Benefits of Voting 

As each year passes, apathy among young voters continues to be a problem. If students are not taught the importance of voting while young, the chances are they won’t see the need to do so when they grow up. With the help of learning resources such as this one, you can teach the importance of voting through student council elections and help breed a patriotic community.

The Need to Accept Results 

In any election, there will be winners and losers. After the campaigns and the voting process, the results are announced. There is a need for voters to accept results. If they have problems, they should learn the appropriate channels for airing their grievances. The student council elections provide the perfect avenue to teach this.

Subjects that You Can Teach Through Student Council Elections 

Depending on the education level of the students you are teaching, you can teach the following subjects through student council elections:


Math is a fundamental subject. Therefore, every opportunity to help students grasp their concepts better and quickly is welcomed. Through student council elections, you can teach topics such as probability. Depending on available resources, you can ask your students to come up with polls of who they think will win the elections. Ask them to analyze what they think the chances of each contestant are. It is also an opportunity to teach data analysis.

Reading graphs and charts is crucial to understanding elections and their results. Take the opportunity to help students create line graphs and pie charts based on the data collected from the student council elections.

Social Studies 

Social Studies is a subject that elections hugely rely upon. There is no limit to what you can teach on this subject following student council elections. For instance, the polls allow you to dive into the constitution; explain what it is, how it works, and why it’s essential for the smooth running of the school.

Other Social Studies lessons that you can teach the students include:

  • The voter registration process.
  • Human rights.
  • The history of past elections.
  • Different branches of the government.

You can also analyze the role of each student council member and how they impact the areas in which they oversee.

Enhance Reading and Writing Skills 

National elections usually trigger a lot of opinions; student council elections are not different. Take the opportunity to enhance your students’ reading and writing skills by asking them to write persuasive essays on who they think would win/deserve to win the elections. They will also learn how to collect evidence and use them to back up their opinions and findings.

The Key Takeaway 

Student council elections can be essential for school morale and leadership opportunities for elected students. However, you should help other students see beyond what is happening at their school. Use the student council elections to help them learn critical life skills to help them become more educated adults.

Written by Mary Joseph
Education World Contributor
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