Teaching is Leadership

Teacher AIESEC Global Volunteer 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…

AIESEC Teacher Global Volunteer UK …because they inspire an environment of trust and learning

The greatest differences between average teachers and brilliant teachers is that the latter really care about what sort of environment they are generating for their students.

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.

AIESEC Confident teaching abroad …because they can make you believe in yourself

When teachers look around the class, they should not see an array of numbers of grades. They should see a room brimming with potential. Even if some of them do not see it in themselves already.

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.

AIESEC Teaching Africa LAtin America …because they give you a new perspective of the world

Alright, there are teachers that simply read from the textbooks and stick to the schedule. Then again, there are teachers that love you to tell you about themselves and share stories that they think you love to hear. My favourite math teacher in high school had a strange habit of digressing of his notes to talk about his exciting childhood in Bangladesh and all the little lessons that he learned through experience. Obviously, we reveled in the joy of spending less time working through question sheets but on top of that, we were all glad to take something real and special out of the classroom that would not only be in an exam.

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.

AIESECUK Teaching …they encourage you to think for yourself

The teachers that I learned the quickest from were not the ones who gave me the answers, but the ones who asked the right questions. They would point me in the right direction and encourage me to walk through the door myself. As the quote goes, “leaders don’t create followers, they create leaders”. By giving me the courage to carve a path for myself, they are intending for me to lead my own life purposefully and hopefully achieve something great. And I intend not to let them down, because these teachers, these leaders, they gave so much of their time to make sure that I make the most of my education.

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.

AIESEC abroad teach With AIESEC, you are trained to develop your leadership potential. Many people ask me how traveling abroad to teach children does that exactly, and this is my answer.

You can impact many lives, including your own, by taking initiative here.