Teachers as Leaders
by Susan Hastings
Is there any profession that can make a bigger
difference to the future of our society than education?
Our young people are the future decision makers of our country. Is there any profession where excellent leadership is more important for our young people? In my opinion, the answer is, "no." My answer is based on a decade of experience as a school counselor, and, most recently, on the. experience of. teaching teachers in-service and graduate credit courses. Education is a profession where leadership is paramount for the future of our young people who are clearly our greatest natural resource.
What is leadership anyway?
My favorite definition of a leader is simply this: "A leader is someone others want to follow." So what does this have to do with teachers as leaders? Teachers by virtue of being teachers are role models for our young people.
In my opinion, the most effective way to influence or lead another is through modeling. It reminds me of one of my favorite anonymous quotes: "What you say, what you do, who you are may influence others in ways you may never know. Your influence, like your shadow, extends where you may never be."
I use a number of different programs and materials to teach teachers. Robert Conklin's Adventures In Attitudes and LifePower are programs I use. Another is Dr. Nancy Utterback's Peak Performance in Communication, a course that implements Inscape’s Personal Profile System, Values Analysis Profile System, and the Listening Profile. Because of these programs, teachers I teach in New York are learning and integrating new ways to be leaders. And their influence, like their shadow, extends far beyond their classroom walls.
Teachers are learning that the best way for them to lead is to be their best. With children, one really can't "fake it 'til you make it" because they are quick to recognize a phony.
Which is why these courses are so important. These courses are safe avenues to look within ourselves, to see where our hidden strengths lie, and to give specific strategies to build on these strengths. As teachers "wake up" and see their wholeness, not their brokenness, it's like observing a butterfly emerge from a cocoon — tentatively at first — then with more and more strength, as they fly and soar. When teachers begin acting from their wholeness, they have a confidence that comes from this wholeness that permits them to encourage, and, yes, even insist, that their students do likewise. Most schools are not designed to encourage such creativity. Students are encouraged to pass/fail. To be right/wrong. This, to me, encourages mediocrity, rather than creativity, for creativity does not flourish in an atmosphere of fear.
This new kind of leadership results in a letting-go of control, a control that was fear based, and is replaced by a mutual teaching and learning. It is replaced by a sense of "we're all in this together because we can trust each other, we can give each other the freedom to become the most of who we are." In this atmosphere, mistakes are not failures but rather, invitations for growth.
We live in a society that proclaims the message, spoken and unspoken, that if we have enough material goods, we will be able to do what we want to do, and if we have and do enough of what we want, we will become who we want to be. These teachers are helping reverse that message. What I am witnessing is the evolving of teachers who are willing to be first, knowing that the doing and the having will follow. This takes courage.
Teachers on Long Island are reaching their potential through such programs as Adventures In Attitudes, Life Power, and Peak Performance in Communication. Over and over, I have heard teachers tell me: "This course has changed my life. 1 just wish I had had it 20 years ago."
I see teachers recognizing that their profession can make a difference in a way few professions can. It is exciting to see teachers begin to reclaim their self respect and their self esteem. As they see themselves having the ability to take charge of their lives and create what they want, they no longer are victims or martyrs, but creators of their own destinies.
A leader, as I said, is someone others want to follow. Students want to follow teachers who risk being more and who encourage creativity, love, acceptance, fun, and freedom as the new "norms!"
Teachers as leaders. They make a difference. A BIG difference!
For more information on the Education courses that Susan and her affiliates teach,
==> email Susan Hastings <==or call at 800-733-9349.
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