Answering the Call to Teach with the Heart of a Servant Leader

By Joyce Jamerson, Ed.D.

Teacher helping young boy with the computer

Many elementary teachers enter the profession of education because they are called to the high purpose of meeting the needs of children. Because the specific needs of children are vast and diverse, this can be a daunting task for classroom teachers. Furthermore, meeting the needs of the “whole child” requires differentiated and inclusive instruction that meets students’ mental, physical, emotional and moral needs.

How do effective teachers do it? How do successful teachers build classroom environments that are conducive to learning?

I believe that effective teachers are servant leaders.

Robert Greenleaf coined the term “servant leader” and defined it as someone with a natural desire to serve and meet the needs of others. Larry Spears further defined servant leadership by identifying characteristics of servant leaders that are observable in effective teachers and can be demonstrated in the following ways:

  1. Truly listen and be in the moment with students
  2. Demonstrate empathy and understanding
  3. Promote wellness through healing when you sense something is wrong
  4. Be aware of student needs
  5. Achieve student buy-in through shared leadership and consensus building
  6. Keep the ‘big picture’ and end goal in mind through conceptualization and reflection
  7. Demonstrate foresight by asking questions and anticipating things to come
  8. Demonstrate stewardship through engagement in purposeful, meaningful and productive work
  9. Be committed to student growth, personal growth and the growth of others in your organization
  10. Build a positive and engaging community through authentic learning experiences
  11. Embrace your calling by making a positive difference and lasting impact in the lives of the students who have been entrusted to you

Being an educator has been rewarding and fulfilling to me for almost 20 years because it gives my life meaning and purpose. I was able to personally overcome many life challenges as a child and become a successful educator today because of teachers who not only taught me, but also empowered me, affirmed me, challenged me, loved me and gave me one of the greatest gifts of life: quality time.

If you have been called to do the honorable and privileged work of an educator, do it with a servant’s heart and you will do it well.

More About Joyce:

Dr. Jamerson has served the field of education since 1997 as a literacy coach, administrator, teacher, childcare facility owner, university professor and researcher. She is a servant leader who is dedicated to helping others grow and increasing the positive impact educational organizations have on student success. Some of the community service activities that she is most passionate about include hosting Family Literacy Night events at homeless shelters, writing grants to fund professional development opportunities for educators and literacy programs for students, reviewing manuscripts for publishing companies, serving as an officer at the state and local levels of the Arizona Reading Association and supporting the Children’s Ministry at her church. In her time away from professional responsibilities, Dr. Jamerson enjoys being a mom and wife. She spends quality time reading, writing, watching her children play sports and taking leisurely walks to behold nature’s beauty.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.