These last couple of weeks have been extremley busy- school is picking up, my jobs are accelerating in work load and it is time to finnaly begin to apply for teaching jobs!! I still can not beleive that after four years at the University of Regina, and a life time of working towards becomming a teacher, it is finally time for my career to begin. In these last couple of weeks I have felt the pressure and stress of trying to find a job- frantically filling out applications, and preparing for interviews. I was finding my self overwhlemed by the pressure of getting everything I need to get done -done, that I did not take the time to reflect on how exciting it is that my career is about to begin.
My mom, probably sensing that I was overwhelemed, sent me this article that a parent had wrote about the diffrence that teachers make to the lifes of their students and to society. Although it is a little bit of a typical cheezy-teacher article, it really got me excited and reaffirmed some of the reasons why I want to be a teacher! The author talked about how some teachers are great instigators of the curriculum, while some just teach and go home, while another type of teacher strives to be a leader- a person whom challenges and inspire their students to acheive their potentials and beyond. The latter is the type of teacher I want to be. I have always been drawn to teaching because of the potential to inspire others to reach their potential. I was student that at times got lost in system. It was the teachers that challenged me, beleived in me, and were there to help discover my potentials that really shaped who I am as an individual, and who I hope to be like as a teacher.
I hope that this article provides other with inspiration and reaffirmation as you finish your last semester of classes and university!
Lessons From School Teachers
Last weekend I attended my daughter, Hayley’s, high school graduation. I’ve been in a reflective mood since, thinking about how she’s grown into an amazing, gifted young woman. But, I’ve also reflected on something else. In the graduation programs I heard many of her teachers speak. I was genuinely moved, not just by their eloquence and wisdom but also by their presence. There is much to learn about leadership from teachers. In Oprah’s final show, she introduced and praised her grade 4 teacher, an early “liberator” who made her feel valued. And even the two American Idol finalists acknowledged the teachers who inspired them. Think about your own teachers. There are those who just meet the curriculum requirements and help you get into the next grade, while others inspire you, build your character, and mentor you to be a better person, not just a better student. And think about the bosses you’ve had. Some merely help you get your work done, some get in your way, but some change your life. Some help you be a better employee, while others help you be a better person. Hayley has had some amazing teachers over the years that have deeply impacted her. I wish all of them could have been there to see her graduate, to know the difference that they made.
How is it that some teachers are merely teachers, but others are leaders, mentors, and life-changers? And how is it that some bosses are merely bosses, while others influence and build your moral fibre, model and teach new attitudes and behaviors, and create a constructive legacy for future generations? It is this distinction that makes a “mentor leader.”
While there are many leadership practices that amplify one’s impact on others, “mentor leaders” possess three qualities of leadership that exemplify their presence:
1) Leaders who make a difference are authentic. They are human, and humble, and present. They also aren’t perfect or attempt to create an illusion of perfection. To impact others, you can’t be phony. People will see right through it. By being who they are, they create a space where others are inspired to also be authentic. Authentic people love what they do and are open to learning about themselves. They are inspired by a purpose and a passion, so their heart’s in the game, and by being inspired, they inspire others.
2) Leaders who make a difference are accountable. They can be counted on and don’t make promises they aren’t prepared to keep. They create a place where blame is viewed as a waste of time. They have high standards, both for themselves and those around them. It’s inspiring to be around people you can count on. You aren’t a leader until someone says you are, and you won’t earn the credibility to influence and be trusted if people can’t count on you.
3) Leaders who make a difference love. They genuinely care. They love their work and they love the people around them. They understand that leading is largely a matter of caring about people, not manipulating or controlling them. Leaders who love measure their success by the trust they build and the value they bring to the lives of people. Mentor leaders know that their work is a means to a higher end and put people above products and processes. It’s about changing lives.
Seeing so many examples of such fine mentor leaders last weekend made me optimistic about our future leaders. Great leadership goes well beyond merely “getting the job done,” and cannot be reduced to technique or position or power. Great leadership inspires others and comes from the strength of one’s identity and integrity – their presence. When teachers possess this presence and inspire it in their students, we are truly fortunate to have them in our lives. When it happens at work and in our lives, we reach unimaginable potential.