Think about the greatest teachers you have ever had in your life. How did they make you feel? Did they inspire you to pursue your goals? Did they make your education worth enjoying? Did you they make you think in any way that a textbook could never do?
I am a firm believer in the statement ‘teaching is leadership’. That is, if you are a teacher, it is not only your role to provide education, but also to provide others with the correct mindset to make a difference in the world.
And why do I think this is true? Let me tell you: teaching is leadership…
…because they inspire an environment of trust and learning
For example, many teachers focus on results – they base their entire system of rewards on how well their students have done in their exams. However, this took into no account their effort levels. Where teachers truly took the step forward was when they rewarded improvement, commitment, and curiosity. In other words, they focused on factors that students could control – like how much someone contributes to discussions, how much extra distance someone goes to understanding a concept, or how much their attitude has developed. This meant that students make a conscious decision to develop their character. These are the teachers that students are most likely to trust when they are struggling or they need help because they prioritize learning over grades.
I say this because it is very similar to leaders. Leadership is about inspiring and motivating others to behave in a way that allows them to develop themselves and the world. Leadership is about spreading the environment of trust and positivity to others because these individuals will remember how you made them feel and they will pass that on others.
…because they can make you believe in yourself
I was once the shy twelve-year-old in an environment that made me feel slightly insignificant…the kind of person that you would not notice at all. I was struggling to adjust to high school, could not make friends and was feeling lost in life. So when my science teacher in high school randomly told me one day that I was destined to be prime minister of the country one day, it had a massive impact on me. Was there any evidence to the statement? No, but when you were in my situation, having anyone – especially your favourite teacher – tell you that they believe in you really transforms the way you see yourself.
A leader’s purpose is to create impact. But the impact does not happen straight away, it happens as a chain reaction; by changing one person at a time. Therefore, in the moment that my teacher told me what I had never been told before, she was able to inspire one person to keep going because one day, I would have the chance to one day empower others myself.
…because they give you a new perspective of the world
When you are traveling abroad to another country to teach young children, you will have a similar influence. The ones you meet may never have left their country or even their hometown. So when you speak to them about life, culture, and food where you come from – you are inspiring curiosity about the world. You are giving them a small unique jigsaw piece of the world and encouraging them to find the remaining pieces for themselves. You are inspiring travelers and global citizens.
…they encourage you to think for yourself
As you can tell, these teachers have had a big impact on me. But that is only because these teachers actively took the initiative to be much more than their job description. The best teacher is more than just the person who stands in front of you and gives you homework. The best teachers are story-tellers, inspirers, motivators, and give you permission to challenge the world for yourself – apparent traits that are shared by leaders too.
You can impact many lives, including your own, by taking initiative here.