TEACHERS AS LEADERS
TRANSFORMATIVE IMPACT OF TEACHING IN SOCIETY
I remember my days as student and always wonder how come my teachers made me do what I did in those days despite me hating all those with all my heart. I hated Math but managed satisfactory performance in the subject. I hated my SUPW periods and today when I look back I find myself recalling most of the skills acquired in that class as if coming naturally to me. I hated running around, doing yoga or taking part in co-curricular activities like public speaking, but I did and I faired quite well. Big question that arises then is- How? Why? I was able to do not only all those then, but also till today.
Answer surprisingly is easy. All my teachers were not just teachers but they were true leaders, who were able to make me do what I was able to do but just wasn’t aware of my capabilities. They were the ones who identified my strengths and weaknesses even before I myself could discover them or may be accept them or use them to my benefit. They understood the importance of being adaptive to changing scenarios in society and prepared us for all those responsibilities that would come to us in future. They were the visionaries and that’s the beauty of all leaders, Make people do what they are best at and think before times.
You may find leaders in all walks of life and that too of different kinds. Some have the ability to set examples , take charge and lead from front while others stand besides you and lead without you even realizing that you are being led and some others that act like shepherds and stand behind the flock and make others feel as if they are the ones who are leading but actually are being led. Different leaders have different beauties, strong and weak points but a common goal of leading people to the desired end. Because it’s the people who constitute the society and the thinking or mindset of these people that will decide the destiny of a nation and mankind at large.
Who is the teacher? The one who stands in front of the blackboard in the class guiding students through their lessons are not always the teacher, but everyone, in fact, anyone who can contribute to your growth is a teacher and a leader.
‘Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.’ -John C. Maxwell
I still remember the time when we were asked to choose Salwar suits in school as our uniform and we fought to retain our skirts or may be during my college days when everyone was talking about reservation policies and its consequences that may have on our career options, we all went out to register our displeasure. Sometimes I wonder why we did all that. We were young at that point of time and were least bothered about what was happening around and more concerned about the way we looked and dressed and perceived by our peers. How come we started thinking about such grave issues?
Today as teachers, when we take students out for Sanitation Drive or ‘Each one Teach one‘ programmes or may be Save Elephants or Save Tigers or Save Environment programmes, I realize how our thinking was molded by the acts and thoughts of our teachers. Every time anyone criticized us, our teachers use to ask us not to bother about the comment but work on our weakness and come out winners or when somebody tried to rub us the wrong way, encouraged us to give them a fitting reply. All this in some ways shaped my attitude, thoughts and my behavior. ‘Leadership is an action, not a position.’ Donald McGannon. Same thing applies to everyone in the society that means a teacher’s actions, encouragement and motivation shapes a society.
Things learnt early in life remains for life thus lies greater responsibility on teachers as they are those silent leaders that will design the destiny of a nation.
Teaching in any form in today’s world isn’t easy. In fact it never was. Teachers have to perform varied roles, as mentors, as guides as sometimes learners themselves and also as visionaries. All this require great courage and finest of leadership skills. That means teachers have to be good leaders first. In today’s world the biggest challenge any teacher is going to face is to remain the ‘know all ‘of yesteryears and set examples. All this is not possible looking at the vastness of knowledge base, requirements of present day’s learners and the huge amount of information made available by Google search engines and social media apps.
If world would have had only black and white shades as felt and perceived earlier, life would have been much easier but that is not the case. A teacher today has a greater role of being there not only as resource of knowledge but also the one who can develop the ability of learners to identify and differentiate amongst different shades of grey and choose the appropriate one. That in fact is the most important job of teacher that of developing sensibility and sensitivity amongst young learners.
Every time Bujho asks and Paheli answers…. During story time - in the story, mother goes to work and father helps in household chores….. Discussion of latest news during Newspaper reading time….Pictures of girls and boys moving around together in business suits in text books and magazines ….. Assembly time - children sharing responsibility of putting up a great show…… all these shapes up ones personality and removes disparity of different kinds from the society…. Indeed a great responsibility. All this is carried out seemingly effortlessly by teachers. But is it actually so? A lot of sweat and blood goes in it
Listening to learners problems, academic or personal all has to be handled with utmost care and finesse A teacher has to be on toes, be a learner first and have to think and device ways of modifying surrounding in the least disturbing manner . Guiding girls through teenage problems, sensitizing boys about the same, working through gender disparity prevalent in society and inequality in all respects in different sections of society all this have to be tackled with utmost care. As the famous saying goes’ With great power comes greater responsibility’, Teachers have to evolve as the most effective leaders.
"Surround yourself with great people; delegate authority; get out of the way" Ronald Reagan
Good teacher is a must for every society as is good teaching practice. Developing teaching practice that makes learning fun and makes learners skillful is a challenging task. Same teaching methodology does not work well with different kinds of learners and thus have to be customized to make them effective and interesting. Only an effective and dynamic leader would be able to manage that. Creating opportunities of self learning, delegating responsibilities and making learners accountable for their actions, devising newer and simpler methods of imparting knowledge, creating interest in social issues, bringing in attitudinal changes is not for fainthearted.
Society is changing. With changing times needs of learners change and thus arises the need for effective leaders. Only a proactive, vigilant, sensitive and responsible teacher can handle such huge pressure.
“The day the learners stop bringing you their problems is the day you stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership." Colin Powell, Same applies to teachers and teaching practices. Teachers can change the world, provided, they have the ability to bring in the desired change within themselves first and lead society members from front or back or being with them but lead effectively. That’s the gurumantra.