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A Teacher A Leader
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
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