• Encourage many students to run. The more students who run the less of a popularity contest it becomes. Students have to listen to multiple view points and begin taking their vote more seriously. It also means that students who lose the election will be in the majority. This helps ease the pain for
students who don’t win.
• Give each student multiple votes. This works best if your class has more than one representative on student council. By having more than one vote, students get away from voting for their friends. By having multiple votes students are once again encouraged to listen to the quality of one another’s speeches, and think of each individual’s character.
• Use campaign regulations. You can put limits on campaign spending in your classroom. Do not allow buttons, flyers or other promotional materials to come into your classroom. Give each candidate large sheets of construction paper that they can make posters out of. Give students time in class to make their posters.
• Limit the actual campaigning time. Plan your student council lesson out and carefully map the time. You will want to spend weeks discussing government, and the importance of representation, and the role of student government. The election process itself should be very abbreviated. Only allow a few days between the time you actually announce your election, to the time students are able to vote. This prevents parents from taking over their student’s campaign and disregarding everything you’ve set up to make the election equitable and fair.
• Hold your campaign on a Friday. Students may vote at any point during the day, but announce the results as close to the end of the day as possible. The reality is everyone will not win, and this allows students to heal their wounds over the weekend privately.
For more ideas, or to view my full lesson, click here: Building Community in Your Class Through a Student Council Election