With this being the standard week of giving cards of love and yesterday Valentine’s Day, I would like to touch on how teachers and leaders can reach the hearts of their students and followers.


Understanding that one box of chocolate does not fit all and more importantly, you throwing a red rose blanket at the feet of others does not cover all; there are certain points a teacher can make that are exemplary of their leadership for others that truly comes from the heart.

Challenge them

Great teachers are not afraid to challenge the heart of a student. How do you do this? You step into the unknown, looking for opportunities that can help a student grow. You inspire their hearts to the point that they want to do and be better. Sometimes, that even means going against what the pacing guide or the curriculum says to do that day. No one is ever for the better if they are always staying the same and unchallenged. Challenge students to succeed, not to fail.

Make your classroom a shared vision

While you are the teacher, your classroom should be more about your students than you — a shared environment, where ownership exists between both parties. What is the vision you want your students to see? Too many times, teachers “box” their students in, keeping the lid closed, stifling their growth. A shared vision pulls students forward. Be willing to speak their language and have an idea of who they are. Together, your classroom becomes much more conducive to teaching and learning.

Model the mature way

Someone has to be the adult in the classroom; please let it be you. Yes, you, as the teacher or leader, must model the mature, professional way. This is the behavior that wins the respect of others. Do not be the clownfish who drowns in their own immaturity. You set the standard, let them be high. Why would you set them low? Having a quiet strength has been shown to win the day more often than not.

Teach from the heart

This is why we teach and lead… or suppose to anyway. It is our calling that enables us to build students up who are torn down by society. With the concept of “me first” being propagated everywhere one looks, the one constant has to be your teaching from the heart. This is the only way we can lift spirits, and promote a better way. Knowing what to teach is nowhere equal to knowing how to teach.

While every one of the above topics aligns with servant-leadership, it goes without asking, “What are we here for as teachers?” As an educator, are you trying to pull the best out of a student from the inside, where their heart is, instead of pushing something down their throat from the outside? Like anything else in life, for all involved, understanding the why of something increases the likelihood of a better effort given. Why a person does anything can always be seen by where their heart is.

Teach with the language of the heart, you just might be able to see a heart melt and turn into something solid.

©2019 J Clay Norton

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