Teachers Are Leaders
Teachers Are Leaders
Touching more lives, affecting the outcome of so many futures a teacher is the epitome of a leader. Just as a leader has his or her own style, their way of motivating their students, also plays an important part in a students success. Spending more time with our children then most parents do, a teacher is fundamental in shaping our children. If they are poor leaders our children suffer. When they shine as leaders our children blossom and the universe is wide open to them. As a teacher it is of utmost importance that you tune your leadership skills and find the best style of teaching for the students you are teaching.
In finding resources for this paper it was interesting to note that all the information fell under the category of leadership and not teacher qualities. It was also interesting to note that the principle the US Army teaches on leadership are included in an overwhelming number of corporations as well taught mostly by retired military themselves. The intrinsic characteristics of a teacher can be categorized into a few main teaching styles or leadership styles. Directing, Participating, Delegating, and Combined styles are the main forms of teaching and leading.
The qualities associated with these styles are imperative to any teacher. The purpose as teachers is fundamentally the same as leaders, to provide purpose, direction and motivation while operating to accomplish the mission in this case to educate. All four of these actions must be present in order for a student to benefit. A leader or teacher is not born but cultivated through his/her upbringing and environment. In my experience as a leader, teaching in Educational Psychology, being a parent, I have learned that what you as a leader or teacher bring to your students or audience is imperative to their development and learning.
A teacher’s personal characteristics are also crucial factor in students’ development and motivation. The first principle is purpose, which has to be conveyed to the student. “Why do I need to learn Math? How will studying History benefit me? ” Without the “why’s” we as students are lost. A teacher must give the purpose. “It is important to you because? ” If this question is left unanswered the student will not consider the value of the topic being discussed. To move from purely acceptance to questioning and understanding denotes a higher level of learning. This is the main objective of teaching.
Moving the students from regurgitation to higher realization is the ultimate goal. Teachers need to take the time to explain the “why’s” and in the long run it will benefit both the teacher and student. Direction is tied to purpose. Direction is the steps we are going to take to get to that important purpose. Without steps or direction, we lack the framework in which to learn. By prioritizing small tasks (you must teach numbers before adding them) your lessons will be more effective. By conveying the direction or path to your students you are setting up the checklist for them to follow on to higher learning.
Purpose and direction are essential aspects to convey to your students. Without motivation however these factors will not be effective. The motivation will give your students the will and desire to do things. You can tell a student the purpose of a task and the direction in which to go but without the internal motivation of that student, sparked by your personality and learned tactics in dealing with students, these will be meaningless. Motivation is the drive and will to do what needs to be done to accomplish the mission. To instill motivation a teacher has to know his/her students and their capabilities.
A teacher must know what the students can relate to, what tasks the student are capable of, and what method of teaching will relate to the students. If a student can handle not being supervised on a task, then the teacher doesn’t baby-sit them. Some students need a teacher looking over their shoulder at all times; it’s important to know which student you have. To instill positive motivation when they succeed – praise them; when they fail – show them how to succeed next time. If this is done properly it will be a teacher’s strongest tool!
Motivation is not just the words you say to your students, it is the actions that you do and the example you set for them. I have found that no matter what I tell my subordinates, or my son, the best way to teach them is by setting the example for them to follow. We all have someone watching and emulating our actions. If you want to convey hard work, proficiency, and the desire for learning to your students, then you must first emulate those qualities. The best teachers and leaders in my life have made me want to take some of their personality traits and copy them.
In front of the classroom, who is looked at more than a teacher is! All of these factors combine to make a somewhat effective teacher or leader, but without the right combination of teaching the leadership will be ineffective. Effective leaders are flexible enough to adjust their leadership styles and techniques to the people they lead. Some students will respond best to coaxing, suggestions, or prodding while others may need a “chewing out”. If you treat all students the same you are probably being unfair because all students are not the same.
You must use the directive, participating, delegating, and combined approaches to teaching. Obviously every situation dictates common sense and some adjusting, but you would not want to use a purely free and laid back approach with a group in a juvenile prison. The directive style of teaching is purely lecture which puts most students and myself to sleep. This is teacher centered with detailed instructions and no input from the class. Now this can be done effectively with students who have an innate interest in the subject but for the majority of those who have “no choice but to take this class” this becomes boring.
Without the lecture or instruction part of teaching, however, most students would not be given the instruction for proficiency and understanding that the subjects may require. When students don’t have the expertise in a subject, a crucial aspect of the subject is the introduction itself. In certain subjects like math it is imperative that formal instruction takes place. The “do this to get this” approach must exist. However too purely drown your students with facts and tedious instructions will turn off the students’ motivation. On the opposite extreme of teaching, the delegating style would be employed.
The delegating style involves giving students the power to solve problems and make decisions themselves, without checking with the teacher in most circumstances. This can be effective with very mature students in whom a teacher wants to create independence and expand their thinking. This simply stated is the teacher giving a problem, minimal instructions, and expecting the student to find the solution. In some aspects this can be effective only if the students have a basic understanding and the fore knowledge of how to solve the problem.
With too little amount of instruction this will be a disaster! The participating style centers on both the students and the teacher. The teacher gives the students a problem, gives instruction and possible solutions, and asks the students for input. The teacher, although dependent on recommendations from the students, makes the final solution however. This is most effective for teachers who have time as their advantage, which many do not. When this style is used, the students feel as though they are at least a part of the discovery process and it gives them a sense of ownership of the final plan.
Again the factor here is time, so this can be ineffective when there are strict time constraints and many lessons to accomplish. The most effective teaching style is the combined approach. Just as the name implies it uses all of the benefits of the delegating, participating, and directive approaches. It is a flexible and transformational tool for any given situation. To become an effective teacher you must learn when, to what degree, and how to use this approach. This approach is best used when you have students with a conglomeration of experiences, knowledge, motivations, and maturity.
This may sound like common sense, but too often do when have those “pure lecture” teachers, or those who are on the other extreme and let the students “learn on their own”. With all the styles of teaching and leading, who the teacher is plays a significannot role in what the student learns. As I sat in the first day of Educational Psychology I noted how many times the teacher looked at the clock. She noted when there was one minute until the class was to start and has promptly kept the same attention to time since that first day.
This shows two of the characteristics – awareness and perception – that a teacher needs to bring to the classroom. Other characteristics include: listening receptively to what others have to say, accepting others and having empathy for them, foresight and intuition, awareness and perception, highly developed powers of persuasion, an ability to conceptualize and to communicate concepts as well as establish goals, empowering people, using multiple options thinking, and being passionate about what they are teaching.
These are forged by our personal beliefs, and just as important our life experiences. Having these combined with the right approach; purpose, direction, and motivation are the key to effective teaching and leading. Leaders can’t be “trained, but they can be developed. Development needs to be ongoing and highly personalized in its nature. Teachers, true leaders, are so strategically important that schools cannot afford not to provide them with the support and developmental resources they need to grow. But not everybody is capable of being an outstanding leader.
However, it is going to be the key to better education in a world of change, complexity and uncertainty. As I look back on the semester, I remember how it started. Never have I been in a class where the classroom students taught the instruction. What a weird, bizarre, and radical way of teaching. I have to admit, I hate to work in-groups and I didn’t like this idea at all. In light of my stubbornness and repulsion I see why this had to happen. To me the process was not really about learning the material but bluntly seeing how you can be inspired put to sleep, or appalled at other students, or yourself.
The fundamental concept is not really about what you are teaching, but how. The “with-it-ness” of the teacher makes the student learn or care about the subject. The lack of enthusiasm in an instructors voice, the laziness as they slouch on the podium or smack their gum, or the sheer brilliance of their presentation is what inspires and motivates a student to learn. The Army is the same way with winning wars and making heroes. Many civilian corporations have emulated the leadership principles applied in the Army doctrine and regulations. This is what I have applied this course to.
As a supervisor in the Army in charge of those many years younger than me or twice as old as me this course has shown me in a less obvious way to adapt and be flexible to the situation. Also I feel that beyond the regular courses that teachers take they should be shown how to develop their leadership skills. They need to be shown which style to teach which students and how to be flexible. Teachers also need to have and develop some personal qualities that will make them successful. Without the characteristics mentioned they will not be successful teachers.
The leaders of the most powerful army of the future need to be shown how to lead. They need to know how to give to their students meaning by showing the purpose, providing the direction and the motivation while they accomplish their mission, to educate. Teachers need to use different approaches to teaching based on the students and they need to be flexible in their approach. Sometimes it is okay to think (teach) “in the box” and sometimes we need to think (teach) “out of the box” but I believe we can think both ways at the same time. Sources Blanchard, Kenneth, Patricia Zigarmi, and Drea Zigarmi.
Leadership and the One Minute Manager: Increasing Effectiveness Through Situational Leadership. William Morrow & Company. 1985. Hesselbein, Frances, Goldsmith, M. , & Beckhard, R. , Eds. The Leader of the Future: New Visions, Strategies, and Practices for the Next Era. Jossey-Bass Publication. 1996. Covey, Stephen J. The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. Reprint Edition. Fireside. 1990. Covey Leadership Center US Army Field Manual FM 22-100 Army Leadership. U. S. Government Printing Office: 1999.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 23 October 2016
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