We have all seen servant leadership in school. If we think about what is taught in elementary school, and then compare it to what is taught in high school, there is a clear difference. Teachers are an excellent example of the leaders in Servant Leadership.
Servant Leadership emphasizes a leader who has the desire to serve others so that they can then develop themselves, and eventually develop others (PSU WC, 2013, L.11, p. 3). When a teacher helps a child develop, these children can then think for themselves, take care of themselves, and then help take care of others. Each grade that a student moves up, this becomes more and more obvious. A teachers job changes from grade to grade as children no longer need to be taught the essentials, such as, proper etiquette. In elementary school, teachers set the foundations for learning basic subjects and acceptable behavior (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012-2013). When high school teachers receive students, they assume and expect that students have built a strong foundation in these areas. At my high school, we had several programs for students to work with younger kids. An example of this would be the after school tutoring program. This tutoring program was for kids of all ages who needed extra help in a certain subject. If you were a high school student who was advanced in a certain subject, you could volunteer some of your time to help younger kids. Here we see the cycle of servant leadership. It all started with a teacher that aided in a student’s ability to flourish in a given subject, and now this student is able share their knowledge and help another student.
Lesson 11 also talks about the ten characteristics of a servant leader: listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community (PSU WC, 2013, L.11, p. 3). The following is how each of these relates to a teacher: based on the definitions that Northouse (2013) give us.
–Listening is important for teachers to understand the best way to communicate with their students.
-Empathy is essential in understanding where their students come from. It may be difficult to reach students of much younger ages.
-Healing for a teacher would be for them to take into account students school life and home life. If a student is not performing well in an area, they should be able to identify if it is a “learning problem” or maybe a personal problem (Northouse, 2013, p.222).
-Awareness may be hard for a teacher at times as they are expecting to make an impact on their students who are at a much younger age from them. They must work to provide information in their students “age context”.
-Persuasion is probably the easiest for a teacher as students trust their teachers and are easily convinced when told to change something.
-Conceptualization is a main characteristic for teaching, students must always have a set schedule on things that need to be learned to take students from grade to grade.
-Foresight tells the students what they should expect to learn upfront from the class and how it will help them in the future.
-Stewardship is the teachers’ oath about taking care of their students in both well-being and academics.
–Commitment to the growth of people is how teachers must treat each student as an individual. Each student has their own strengths and weaknesses which must be addressed.
–Building community is for a teacher to build a classroom atmosphere where their students will work together to, feel safe, and feel connected (Northouse, 2013, p.223).
As we can see, all of these servant leadership characteristics exist in good teachers. Teachers use them all because they want their students to grow into functional members of society. Members of society- that can then help others!
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2012-2013). What kindergarten and elementary school teachers do.
Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Education-Training-and-Library/Kindergarten-and-
Northouse, P. G. (2013). Leadership: Theory and Practice (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA:
Penn State World Campus (2013). PSYCH 485 Lesson 11: Servant Leadership. Retrieved
on June 21, 2013, from https://courses.worldcampus.psu.edu/su13/psych485