Friday, September 04, 2015

Teacher = Leader

If someone asked me what is the one thing that I would take with me if my house was on fire, I would take all the cards that my students made for me during my fellowship days, especially the ones given on Teacher's Day (like this one or this one). I would take these cards because they are a reminder of the lives I touched and the lives that touched me, of the seeds of change I planted and the seeds of change that were planted in me. I would take these cards because they reflect the shared value we stood for, students and teacher, together. I would take these cards because they are the most honest expression of emotion that I know. I would take these cards because they are an acknowledgement of the leadership skills I developed and showed as a teacher every single day.

 Whilst the other factors were apparent from day one of the fellowship, I wondered, during the initial few months of the fellowship, where the leadership is in creating and sharing a vision (what does that even mean for a 12 year old?), making and executing five-step lesson plans, planning for and implementing culture, teaching and driving values, having school team meetings and meeting parents. I later realize I glorified leadership often thinking it is a big deal. It actually isn't. It is a set of many small things, consistently done everyday with a clear vision in mind.

Think of two of the greatest leaders in human history - Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. How could they have inspired people into action without having clarity of vision and the ability to make people see the possibilities? How could they have succeeded without creating a value that formed the crux of the movement (non-violence in their case)? How could they have organized nations into a movement without a plan? How could they have implemented the plan without trusted people? How could they have won without awakening the sleeping conscience of the masses? Don't forget that each one of their struggles ran into decades. They tried, failed, learnt and tried again. And then they succeeded, not because of being who they were, but because of the one small thing they did - STAY.

My school was a microcosm of a nation, my school team my trusted people and I was one of the leaders in its movement towards change. I had the community to awaken to bring about change in the classroom. I had 2 years instead of 2 decades.Even in these two years were long for I faced situations that tested me to my limits, made me want to accept compromises, but I kept telling myself one thing through the challenges - "STAY. This too shall pass."

I wouldn't say I succeeded in achieving my vision. But then, is that failure? Probably not. Again, think of Gandhi and ask "Is India truly free now?" or think of MLK Jr. and ask "Is there equality between races in the US?" Probably not. But Gandhi and MLK Jr. remain legends of the Indian Freedom Movement and American Civil Rights movement respectively. My reflection was that my legacy is the function of only my actions towards change for the good.

If you are a teacher, remember, you demonstrate leadership in everything you do in school and in your classroom. And what you do everyday becomes a part of you in seemingly unknown ways. There is no success, no failure, only the journey to a better you and a better world.

 Happy Leaders' Day. Oops, Happy Teachers' Day.

PS: If you feel inspired reading the post and want to join Teach For India's movement for educational equity in our country, click here.

1 comment:

Dhaval said...

Amazing.. Happy Teacher's Day :)