By Bri Tambellini, Secondary English Education Major/ ACH Clear Pathways After-School Arts Program Intern
“Who would like to be our line leader to go to gym class?” Line leader. It’s the biggest honor you can receive as a seven-year-old. Being the line leader meant that you never ran to the door in a hurry when it was time for gym class. Being the line leader meant that you always walked quietly through the halls. Being the line leader meant that during class, you raised your hand in a respectful manner when you wanted to answer a question. I knew that I did all those things, so why wasn’t I picked this time?
As I begin my internship this week, I’ve reflected much on what it means to show leadership. Is it really walking to the door instead of running, remaining quiet in the halls when other students are learning, and raising our hands to speak? I wouldn’t argue against that these reasons show leadership because they all show forms of communication, respect, and responsibility- key points that must be considered when striving to be a great leader- but rather that these components have taken a little different form over the years.
Communication. This aspect of leadership has always been the most interesting yet challenging for me. It can be virtually impossible to create deeper connections and understandings with others without communication. The question then becomes, what is the best way to communicate when we all have different means of doing so? Understanding different forms of communication means understanding the individual with whom you are speaking, and as an aspiring teacher, I frequently think about my students and their families. It is going to be crucial that I know my students’ cultures, traditions, languages, interests, etc. in both my internship and career, in order to know how to properly communicate with them in the ways that work best for them.
Respect. Another key point to understanding leadership is showing respect. As I navigate through my internship and prepare for my career, it is extremely important that I show respect towards students and their families, and my colleagues. I believe that listening is a sign of this. What teaching approaches and styles are working for my students and helping them learn to the best of their ability? In what ways can I improve? This feedback from students, families, and colleagues is an important tool I can use in order to make learning experiences better and more enjoyable.
Responsibility. A teacher is responsible for creating an environment designed for optimal learning. During my work at my internship and in my future classroom, it is my responsibility to ensure that all students feel comfortable and safe in their learning space. By being attentive to this, I will be able to create an environment that is fit for all of my students’ learning needs.
Communication, respect, and responsibility can look very different, as it does now than when I was seven, but these components are crucial when considering what it means to be a strong leader. As I navigate through my internship at ACH Clear Pathways, I am looking forward to strengthening these skills. Challenging myself to improve, will not only help me grow as a person, but also better prepare me for my future teaching career.