This week’s Leadership Column is courtesy of Mr. Flam
Imagine yourself back in high school…
Now, think about your favorite teacher, coach, or counselor. What made him/her your favorite? What did they say or do that made them stick out in your mind? Did they go out of their way to make you feel special? Was there a particular comment they made, or a conversation you remember having with them, that had a lasting impact on you?
I recently read an article in Psychology Today titled “Inspirational Teachers” by Dr. Adrian Furnham. The article discusses the tremendous impact a teacher can have on the lives of the young men and women they serve. Dr. Furnham describes an “inspirational teacher” as one who
- has an unbounding enthusiasm, even passion, for their subject area.
- is an “Evangelist” who tries to convert minds rather than achieve exam oriented goals.
- sets high standards… They do not compromise, but they do encourage.
- updates their materials, metaphors and messages to reach their students.
- is able to “Package their brand” differently to appeal to different individuals and generations.
As I read this article, I began to think of teachers in our building that exhibit these characteristics on a daily basis- there are many. Besides teaching kids how to paint a picture in art, solve an algebraic equation in math, or build a birdhouse in carpentry, teachers often serve as counselors, role models and mentors to their students. We never know when our words and/or actions will inspire a child.
This “superpower” (the ability to inspire students) is not limited to teachers. We all play an important role in shaping the lives of the students in our school. As administrators, IAs, coaches, counselors and support staff, we also have a unique opportunity that people in most other professions do not. Through our interactions with students, we have the potential to change lives and inspire children every day!
If I were to ask students to share a story about someone in this building who showed them support and encouragement, I’m sure I could write a book. I have personally seen teachers, secretaries, custodial workers and other support staff go out of their way to help students through tough times and encourage them to do their best. For the adult, I believe they saw their actions as “the right thing to do.” For the student, however, this act of kindness and caring may have been the most positive interaction they had all day.
We should all aspire to be the person a student remembers; the one that inspired them to think outside the box, strive for greatness or dream of bigger and better things. Each interaction we have with a child can be the moment they think of when they look back at their high school career. They are listening to our words, they are paying attention to our actions and they will always remember the people that inspired them to believe in themselves and reach for the stars.