Every report card I can remember bringing home had one thing that stayed constant from Kindergarten to Grade 12. My marks varied on each report, but the line “Spencer is a leader” was always present. For the longest time, I just brushed it off. There were other students that I would recognize as much more powerful leaders than me. I was never on Student Council in high school, I was never the captain of a sports team, and I was never had the top mark in the classroom. But year after year, teachers recognized me as a leader.
Thinking back, I can remember times when I would have my desk moved beside a student that was struggling with their school work. I was also sat beside special education students throughout elementary school. It never occurred to me until later in life that I was sat beside them as a positive role model; a leader.
I’ll admit, I always thought of teachers as authority figures and “adults”, but rarely as leaders. Only those teachers that coached sports teams or ran leadership programs were leaders in my eyes. But what never occurred to me is that teachers could perhaps be the most under-appreciated leaders in our lives. Maybe the lesson they taught us was dry and boring, but it’s the skills they didn’t blatantly teach us that fostered leadership skills in each and every one of us.
I’ve had teachers that I hope to one day be like, and I’ve had teachers that I hope to never be like. Regardless, these teachers have given me a sense of idealized influence, pushing me to pursue a career in teaching to either emulate or correct their teaching strategies. A good teacher makes you want to be them when you grow older. Perhaps this is what happened to me in Kindergarten?
Teachers can also be motivational inspiration. I’ve had teachers that, despite the trials that they are going through in their personal life, they perform every day at work at an exceptional level. Teachers who have lost loved ones, broken up with partners, or had medical complications with their pregnancies, yet they stand strong at the front of that classroom and give their all for the sake of their students, showing them that no matter what is going on in your life, you are always able to help someone.
Students that feel as though their teacher has given them individualized consideration speaks volumes. These are the teachers that go out of their way to set goals with the student, help them to achieve them, and celebrate with them when they accomplish those goals. They go out of their way to make personal connections with each of their students, displaying a genuine concern for what each person needs to develop fully.
Of course, you cannot just place any leader at the front of a classroom. In order for the students to succeed academically, the leaders must be a teacher, providing the students with intellectual stimulation. This does not equal teaching out of a textbook (BORING!), but rather facilitating activities that engage the students and allow them to further their knowledge in a creative and interactive way. These teachers encourage students to think outside of the box, rather than allowing them to regurgitate knowledge on a test.
Some of the most influential role models and leaders in my life are the teachers that went above and beyond their role, treating and shaping me as a person rather than just a student. My passion for helping others and my desire to provide a positive school experience for a child is the drive behind me wanting to become a teacher. I look forward to having an opportunity to shape youthful minds and foster the personal growth of students one day, when I become a teacher.