As teacher’s we are seen as educators and leaders in society. If you ask any teacher why they decided to follow this particular career path a few will say “for the long holidays and short work day” but there are also those who decide to become teachers to make a difference in the world, the become role models, to inspire, to help and to care. These teachers make teaching a life mission and strive for greatness not solely in themselves but in their students. We dedicate or lives to serving our students.
Yet how can we as teachers provide an environment for our students to grow, mature and flourish? I believe it all stems from how we perceive and develop our leadership style. I believe that educators show many characteristics of the leadership style known as servant leadership.
A servant leader strives to devote themselves to the wellbeing of those he or she has chosen to serve. Servant Leadership was first introduced by Robert K. Greenleaf. He spent 40 years working for At&T as a manager of research, development and education. When he retired he spent his time pursing ways to create a more caring society. He himself describes leadership as “servant first…It begins with a natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first’. I believe since the role of any educational system is centered on serving the needs of their students and therefore promoting the model of servant leadership is the key to a successful school system.
We as teachers dedicate our lives to serving our students and are natural servant leaders who strive to make a deeper connection with our students.
In order to become successful servant leaders I believe teachers need to follow one simple term: Humility.
Servant leaders are humble in nature. We must push aside our own ego and provide an environment where the importance of others is placed above oneself. Yet do not feel this in an impossible task. As educators we do not enter our field of work to become world famous, have great power and great wealth. We become a teacher to help and serve children, a reason that highlights a clear humble character within all of us. Elevate you students with praise and admiration. Motivate them to learn with connections to their own lives and always be a model of the Golden Rule.
Servant leaders are devoted to serving others right to the point of personal sacrifice. As teacher’s I am sure many of us can relate to late nights correcting homework and planning lessons trying to create new and innovating ideas and resources. We are constantly looking to improve our teaching style to provide the best education for our students. However, although a servant leader will sacrifice a great deal in order to serve others, they do not seek gratitude for their service. Satisfying the needs our our students and becoming witness to their own development is satisfying enough.
We nurture and heal. As educators we operate on the premises that students’ needs always come first. Our mission is to use our knowledge and talents to serve children to help them create their best future. We nurture and heal by getting to know our students and building relationships, understanding their pain and finding ways to help them. A successful servant leader can therefore provide the building blocks for the next generation and therefore need to instill these values that improve relationships in our entire world.
We are visionaries. As educators we have great dreams for our students. These dreams provide direction and purpose for our leadership in the classroom. We guide our students through their school years. This is not an easy task but it can be accomplished through a positive outlook.
We empower students and we thrive to inspire students.
When trying to implement our role as a servant leader it is important to remember however that we are human. Human nature will always interfere when trying to strive to become the perfect teacher. Moods and spirits of us and our students are constantly changing. There are moments in the classroom when we feel a true connection with out students and there are moments when are students could not seem further away. There are moments in our own lives when we are more optimistic and open to this ideal vision of a servant leader.Servant leadership is a unique style of leadership ideology, which flows against the grain of self-interest human behavior. This quote highlights how servant leadership ‘flows against’ human nature. There are many who suggest that Greenleaf’s servant leadership model is too passive for today’s world and question whether it is a practical and applicable approach to leadership in real world scenarios.
It is important to remember that we are human and we do make mistakes. However simply dreaming and trying everyday to become a better person and a better teacher are constant steps in the right direction to becoming a servant leader.