Social media has really changed the way we respond to the word “follower”. Often, we understand it as a signifier of popularity, but without doubt it hints at a two-part relationship: followers need someone to follow.
As teachers we need followers, individuals who are inspired to follow our lead. Especially within the classroom, teachers influence most positively when they are driven by a will to serve their students, rather than to be served. There are many ways to influence others: on the one side of the spectrum there is influence through force, punishment, intimidation and persuasion; on the other end there is a more effective and long-lasting way to influence ⎯ through respect.
At school, we work together with students to form a team and we should treat everyone as a 10! The greatest gift a teacher gives is to express belief in the students when the students don’t believe in themselves. If we influence our students solely on school grounds, then there is no real connection or impact. But if we encourage students to be a better version of themselves beyond the school, then we have succeeded in making a real connection with them.
We must lead by example and listen not only with our ears but also with our eyes. After all, teaching is a form of leadership, and leadership is influence ⎯ nothing more, nothing less.
Eleni Papaspyrou attended Nadi Abdallah's "Becoming a Teacher of Influence – Learn to Positively Impact the Lives of Your Students and Others" at the Bi-communal Innovation Camp, which took place at the University of Nicosia. She teaches Accounting and Economics GCSE and A-Level.