The Principles of The TeacherFIRE™ Revolution Unfolded

Having spent time to lay the foundation for sharing the principles of the TeacherFIRE™ Revolution, permit me to begin sharing the principles with the profound words of William Arthur Ward:   ‘The Mediocre Teacher Tells; The Good Teacher Explains; The Superior Teacher Demonstrates; The Great Teacher Inspires!’

It is interesting and instructive how V.R TANEJA sees the impact of perfunctory to the society. He saliently submits, So long as there is one child who has failed to obtain the precise educational treatment his individuality requires; so long as a single child goes hungry, has nowhere to play, fails to receive medical attention he needs; so long as the nation fails to train and provide scope for every atom of outstanding ability it can find; so long as there are administrators or teachers who feel no sense of mission, who cannot administer or who cannot teach, the system will remain incomplete.’

In sharing the TeacherFIRE™ Revolution principles, I shall be visiting lives of the following 13 Unforgettable Teachers and lovers of the child and education to bring our senses and stones from their inspirational and instructive stories.

From the biographical studies of the great souls,  we studied, the traits of a teacher on FIRE is summed up in the word, ‘TEACHERS’ as an acronym:

T stands for TRAIN WITH YOUR VALUES/LIFESTYLE

The teacher understands the Triple M™ Principle

Mentoring- Mentoring refers to fostering value and principle-based leadership. He knows, he loves, he protects and he leads. Mentoring, I must say here answers to time and wisdom. If the teacher has time and does not have wisdom, his time is useless. If he has wisdom and does not have time, his wisdom is useless. Therefore, the teacher must make conscious efforts to lean of divine wisdom and make commitment of time for the children under his care.

Modelling- means, in his dealing with children, the teacher understands that he must be conscious of the learning method of children: ‘they do not do what we say; they do what we do.’

Modeling means we are ready to lead by example. It means we are people of values and we are  committed to communicating our values through our actions in our relationship with our pupils. It therefore means that we do not say one thing and do another. It means our words match our actions. Once our words do not match our actions, we become a reference points to our observers (in this case our pupils) a loud and provocative reference point in hypocrisy.

The bitter but very helpful truth is that the teacher has no other message than his life, the values he lives to defend, the virtues he lives to promote and the ethics he lives to enthrone in his personal lives and that of his pupils. It means that both in the times of fun and serious exchange with the pupils and colleagues, the language of value flows freely.

I read in The Economist Magazine of January 4, 2011 as follows:  ‘budget, curriculum, class size– none has a greater effect on a student than his or her teacher.”    

I verily believe The Economist because from my own personal research, I have come to the irresistible conclusion that the teacher is the real curriculum of the school. A child may not remember many things that he or she is taught in school, but I am sure he or she will never forget the impact of the teacher on him or her either positive or negative.

I must say that there is no gainsaying the fact that a school curriculum is critical to the advancement of the child, but more critical is the teacher, who teaches the curriculum. The primary mandate of a teacher is not to teach a curriculum but to demonstrate it with his or her lifestyle.  Someone said, ‘One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings.  The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.’ As Stanford University economist, Paul Romer has long argued, ‘great advances have always come from ideas; ideas do not fall from the sky; they come from people. People write the software, design the products and start the new businesses. Every new thing that gives pleasure or productivity or convenience is the result of human ingenuity.’

In view of the foregoing, I want to suggest that beyond professional qualifications, the policy of a school on hiring and firing of teachers should focus on committing of human and financial resources to the processes of validating the character of the teachers they hire. I think the acid test should be the compatibility of the personal values of the prospective teachers with that of the school.

The teacher does not claim to be perfect. He does not also claim to know it all. He makes it a point of duty to admit his mistakes to his pupils thereby teaching them that human foibles are the lot of all and not a reason for embarrassment.  For him to be in a position to live as just described he must be free from low self-esteem, He must be secure in himself.

Having been in the school system in the last 16 years, I have seen teachers, who are confident and secure in themselves. I have also seen teachers, who are so insecure that they get into competition with the pupils they are called to lead. They forget that their primary responsibility is to teach vision and keep inspiration alive. Unfortunately, competition and inspiration do not go together. It simply means there is a contest over something that is meant for the fittest. The fittest does not inspire while the fit does not trust the inspiration of the fittest. He therefore suspects it as manipulative agenda to get him to surrender to the wiles of the fittest.

In the final analysis the teacher is therefore advised that ‘Teaching is leaving a vestige of oneself in the development of another.  And surely the student is a bank where you can deposit your most precious treasures.’

The task of leading with your value and lifestyle is difficult where the teacher does not live by values. It is important to note the operating word in this instruction. It is the word, YOUR. It simply speaks of the values, with which you are identified. They are yours. You have identified with them long enough that they are like your name now. They have become your nature and identity.

Values are not quick-fix rules of behaviour. Human beings or organization spend time to build them and become them. Values are the moral principles and beliefs or accepted standards of a person or social group. These moral principles and beliefs guide the activities of the person or group in private and public. The person or group has a commitment NOT to do anything outside their set values.

In asking you to lead with your values and lifestyle, the first question we must ask and answer is, who are you? This exercise is not only very important but critical to the successful dissemination of the TeacherFIRE program. Why is this critical?

This is the truth, everything in life produces after its kind. Human beings and institutions alike cannot give what they do not have.  I found an authority for this in the Holy Writ. Hear this: “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.  Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.’

According to Robb Thompson, ‘You are either a prisoner of your past or a pioneer of your future.’  The summation of this saying is that there are two kinds of people in life. The first: those who are prisoners of their past. These ones are held bound by their past and therefore cannot progress in life. The second are the pioneers of their future. They are people who have been able to put their past behind them and author a new future. This is a privilege God Almighty has given every man and woman.

How do you take hold of this awesome privilege to become the author of new generation, a pioneer of your future?  I think the beginning of the journey of authoring your own future is to embark on a journey of self-evaluation.  For embark on this journey of self-discovery, I strongly advise that you Take RESPONSIBILITY to take the following 5 steps:

  • Accept and love yourself that you are and know: If you do not love yourself that you are, you will never love yourself that you hope to be become. Love is NOW.
  • Identify positive and negative impact of your upbringing: do not live in denial. Open your heart, face your past and decide to identify positive and negative experiences.
  • Identify the requirement for healing
  • Subscribe to the healing process
  • Submit to the healing process 

The truth is that when you take the journey, you will land in the realm of becoming the pioneer of your future. When you go through the process, you will not only be set to become the pioneer of your future, you will arrive at your destination with your values. Until you become the pioneer of your future, you do not have the capacity to lead your pupils into their own future.

Moulding- Mentoring and Modeling are not ends in themselves. Their main goal is POSITIVE INFLUENCE.  Here we call it MOULDING. For a teacher or leader to arrive at MOULDING through Mentoring and Modeling, he/she must consciously Keep These in MIND:

12 LAWS of INFLUENCE:

  1. Relationship: relationship is foundational to influence. The deeper the relation the more opportunity you have to prove your motive
  2. Sacrifice: What have you suffered or you ready to suffer for the cause of the one you desire to influence?
  3. Character: Do your words march your actions? Question of integrity
  4. Relevance: Do you identify with their needs?
  5. Insight: How much of the person you seek to influence have you taken time to have insight to? That is do you have beyond-the-surface knowledge about the person?
  6. Vulnerability: are you genuinely transparent? Are you ready to admit your mistakes, knowing that followers, including children are not fools? There is not faster way to lose confidence in you than to claim perfection in the face of obvious mistake.
  7. Experience: people listen to us because we have succeed in the past
  8. Humility: Humility and meekness are critical to influence. Do you consider it a privilege to play the role of a mentor that you become humble in your dealing with the followers.
  9. Competence: what abilities and expertise do you have in the area where you seek to help others? How often do you update yourself?
  10. Courage: how much are you ready to wisely demonstrate and defend your convictions?
  11. Patience: the mentor trade in value system transfer. Are you patient enough to understand value system transfer takes time and patience must be embraced as long as there are signs of improvement?
  12. Faith: How much do you believe in the person you mentor?  Faith is foundational. Also note that without LOVE we cannot have faith because faith works with love.  Someone said, ‘The task of the excellent teacher is to stimulate “apparently ordinary” people to unusual effort.  The tough problem is not in identifying winners:  it is in making winners out of ordinary people.’

Note: INSPIRED by John C. Maxwell

Meet our Models

The Unknown Teacher and the Bathroom Slippers: It was career day in a primary school and children were asked to come to school modeling the profession they intend to pursue in the future. A child, who wanted to become a teacher, had a running battle with her parents, when she packed a pair of bathroom slippers. The parents insisted that a pair of bathroom slippers is not in the dress code of a teacher. The child insisted it was. When the parents further probed, the child said, ‘our teacher in some cases wear a pair of bathroom slippers to the class room to teach.’

Booker T. Washington, who gave all of himself to his pupils, employed the Triple M™ and became a beacon of hope to many of colleagues. Booker T. Washington was born into slavery to Jane, an enslaved African American woman. He knew little about his white father. His family gained freedom in 1865. As a boy, he invented the surname Washington when all the other school children were giving their full names. After working in salt furnaces and coal mines in West Virginia for several years, Determined to get educated, Washington made his way east to Hampton Institute, established to educate freedmen. There, he worked his way through his studies and later attended Wayland Seminary to complete preparation as an instructor.

Washington was later to become the first leader of Tuskegee Institute Alabama. The new school opened on July 4 1881 to thirty students with Washington as the only teacher 1881, initially using space in a local church. The next year, Washington purchased a former plantation, which became the permanent site of the campus. Under his direction, his students literally built their own school: constructing classrooms, barns and outbuildings; growing their own crops and raising livestock, and providing for most of their own basic necessities.  Both boys and girls had to learn trades as well as academics. Washington helped raise funds to establish and operate hundreds of small community schools and institutions of higher educations for blacks.

Washington believed in his students. While the general opinion was that black people could not learn. He raised the bar of expectation of their performances. He treated his students with courtesy and also disciplined when necessary. The result was astounding success. He said, ‘I have never taught pupils, who gave me such genuine satisfaction as these did…’

He also suffered with his pupils. He recalled an experience: ‘the weather during the second winter of our work was very cold. We were not able to provide enough bed-clothes to keep the students warm…I recall that on several occasions I went in the middle of the night to the shanties occupied by the young men, for the purpose of comforting them. Often, I found some of them sitting huddled around fire, with the one blanket which we had been able to provide wrapped around them, trying in this way to keep warm.’

Johanna “Anne” Mansfield Sullivan Macy (1866 – 1936), also known as Annie Sullivan, was an American teacher best known as the instructor and companion of Helen Keller.

Michael Anaganos, director of the Institute, then located in South Boston, was approached to suggest a teacher for the Keller’s deafblind daughter. He asked Anne Sullivan, a former student, herself visually impaired and only 20 years old, to become Helen’s instructor. It was the beginning of a 49-year relationship, Sullivan evolving into governess and then eventual companion.

Anne Sullivan arrived at Keller’s house in March 1887, and immediately began to teach Helen to communicate by spelling words into her hand, beginning with “d-o-l-l” for the doll that she had brought Keller as a present. Keller was frustrated, at first, because she did not understand that every object had a word uniquely identifying it. In fact, when Sullivan was trying to teach Keller the word for “mug”, Keller became so frustrated she broke the doll. Keller’s big breakthrough in communication came the next month, when she realized that the motions her teacher was making on the palm of her hand, while running cool water over her other hand, symbolized the idea of “water”; she then nearly exhausted Sullivan demanding the names of all the other familiar objects in her world.

As lifelong companions Sullivan and Keller continually lived, worked, and traveled together.

The last story we will be sharing with you here is that of George Muller. While we will share his full story later, we will like to share a part of his life which demonstrated   integrity and unquestionable character.  Muller was an educationist, who also ran an orphanage. It was written of him as follows: although he never asked any person (only God) for anything, Müller asked those who did support his work to give a name and address in order that a receipt might be given.

The receipts were printed with a request that the receipt be kept until the next annual report was issued, in order that the donor might confirm the amount reported with the amount given. The wording in the image reads: “Owing to the great increase of my work, I have found it necessary to authorize two of my assistants (Mr. Lawford and Mr. Wright) to sign receipts for donations, if needful, in my stead.-Donors are requested, kindly to keep the receipts and to compare them with the “Supplement” to the Report, which records every donation received, so that they may be satisfied that their donations have been properly applied.-The “Supplement” is sent with the Report to every Donor who furnishes me with his or her name and address.

Muller further said, ‘I would earnestly request all Donors (even those who feel it right to give anonymously) to put it in my power to acknowledge their donations at the time they come to hand; and should any Donor, after having done this, not receive a printed receipt within a week, they would much oblige me by giving me information at once. This interval must, of course, be extended in the case of Donors who send from places out of the United Kingdom.’ Every single gift was recorded, whether a single farthing, £3,000 or an old teaspoon.Accounting records were scrupulously kept and made available for scrutiny.

Thank you for visiting…Think the CHILD…Think TODAY…Think the FUTURE…

Note: Excerpted from my forthcoming book: ChildProtectionCREED Handbook. Watch out…

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