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leaders who make an impact on the world

Providing Our Students with a Compass

Do you know any teachers who have a second job to help their families pay the bills and make ends meet?

Many do, but these second positions of employment are actually their third jobs…because every teacher already has two jobs.

In Mr. Holland’s Opus, which has quickly become one of my favorite movies, Glenn Holland wanted to be a famous composer of music. This was the grand vision he had for his life and the dream he wanted to pursue. However, he also needed to make money so he could support himself and his wife, Iris.

Mr. Holland accepted a job teaching music in 1964 at the newly renamed John F. Kennedy High School. In his mind, this was simply a temporary gig so he could make some money while he composed music in his free time.

In the beginning, Mr. Holland was not very fond of his principal, Mrs. Jacobs. And she was not very impressed with Mr. Holland’s mindset about his teaching position. Early in the movie, Principal Jacobs invited Glenn to participate in a curriculum meeting which was scheduled for a Tuesday evening. When he declined the invitation because he was too busy, Mrs. Jacobs chastised him for exiting the school building as quickly as the students at the end of the day. Glenn said he showed up on time every day and he did his job the best he could.

Principal Jacobs told Mr. Holland teachers have two jobs. One is to fill their students’ minds with knowledge, but their second job is to give those students a compass so they have a way to apply that knowledge to their lives after school. She declared this second job of providing a compass was more important because without fulfilling it the knowledge students gained would go to waste.

Mr. Holland really didn’t like it when Mrs. Jacobs told him that, as a compass, he was stuck.

So WHY is providing our students with a compass important?

Our students don’t just need us to teach them…they need us to lead them. If we want to truly succeed as teachers, we need to embrace the fact we have a responsibility to provide our students with a compass through our leadership.

We need to stop thinking of ourselves as just teachers because that will only help us perform our first job. We must also fulfill our second, and most important, job to help them apply what they learn to live a successful life.

So WHAT do we need to do in order to provide our students with a compass?

We need to move from managing our classrooms to leading our students. It is vital we build our leadership skills so we can write our own stories to make a difference in the lives of our students by giving them our unique gifts and abilities.

Leadership is not about doing more and accomplishing more. It is about becoming more…so we have a greater capacity to give to others.

By building our leadership skills and giving away our gifts, we can grow stronger relationships with our students which will help us create a legacy of impact.

So HOW do we do provide our students with a compass?

Over the last several years, I have developed and refined the 12 Fundamentals of Success into a system…the Teach for Impact system…to help teachers provide their students with a compass.

Have a Vision to live as the person we truly want to be…a person who impacts the lives of others.

Pursue Our Dreams to do what sets our soul on fire…and connect what we do with who we are.

Know Our Integrity so we can live from our heart…rather than from what the world tells us is important.

Live by Principles so our students can have confidence and trust…that we are leading them in the right direction.

Seek Excellence in the work we do…so we can add value to the lives of young people.

Grow Character Skills to create a better version of ourselves each day…which takes us closer to our full potential.

Rise Above the storms in our lives…to gain wisdom through a new perspective.

Overcome Obstacles to show those we lead how to handle adversity…and follow the signs to what we are called to do.

Be a Lighthouse that provides direction, guidance, and hope…so others can create a path on their own.

Lead by Serving the needs of others first…and being present and engaging in our students’ lives.

Seek Peace and Fulfillment to discover and live our purpose…and give away our gifts and abilities through our relationships and connections.

Enjoy the Journey of the moments we share with others…and writing our own story to make a difference in the lives of our students.

These 12 Fundamentals of Success which create the Teach for Impact system will help us…

…do less of what doesn’t matter and focus on the fundamentals of success.

…become more by increasing our capacity to add value to our students.

…serve others by providing them with a compass.

So WHO is the Teach for Impact system for?

Maybe you are like Kenzie, one of my former students who is now a teacher herself. She says she has a good handle on curriculum and classroom management, but there are still situations where it is hard to know what decision to make.

Many of us are like Kenzie…we are looking for a plan to give us the answers we are searching for. This system is not designed to supply the answers to our leadership questions.

The objective of the Teach for Impact system is to help us find the answers within ourselves.

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Jon Barth

Jon Barth

Teacher - Coach - Mentor

I love to share stories, tools, and resources to help students become leaders who make a difference in the world by giving away their gifts and abilities.

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