For our family, servant leadership plays out every weekend when we take our motorcycles to the mountains to ride. As the most experienced rider, my husband is the steward of our time, talent, and resources. He knows everyone’s riding level and chooses trails that will challenge, but not frustrate the family. He has chosen the best bike for each person based on their size, riding ability, and the type of riding we are doing that day. It is a joy to watch our son’s take care of one another on the trail and the teamwork and collaboration they demonstrate are beautiful. If one goes over, the other is there immediately to check on the person and give them a hand up. Just this weekend my teenager lost his sprocket going about 30 miles an hour. His back tire locked up and he lost control of the bike and crashed but had no major injuries. It was a freak accident and we were in the middle of nowhere with a disabled bike and the potential for a great lesson in stewardship.
Time- In this case, time was on our side. It was still early in the day and although it was chilly, we had lots of daylight left and plenty of time to plan on how we were going to fix the bike and get everyone back to the staging area. Time was our friend because there were no major injuries and the day was young.
Talent- My husband was the only person with the talent necessary to fix the sprocket so we could ride out. Although he was the only one with the mechanical talent to fix the bike, the rest of us had work to do too. My oldest was the muscle and helped with the physical aspects of fixing the bike. My youngest son and I were in charge of finding the missing sprocket and the bolt along the trail.
Resources- The necessary resources was the biggest challenge we faced. We were about 3o minutes from the truck, which held most of the tools we needed to fix the bike. With only 3 bikes that were working, my husband took my oldest back to the truck to get both tools to either fix the bike or rope to tow it back. I stayed in the mountains with my youngest, to watch over the bikes while they were gone.
I am happy to report that we worked together to get the bike off the mountain. Gravity was on our side, and we jerry-rigged a solution to get the disabled bike back down to the truck. We relied on leadership from our most experienced rider/mechanic and the talents of the other people within the family.
Servant leaders are stewards of their gifted student’s time, talents, and resources. Below are 4 stewardship strategies teachers (and parents) can leverage to become a fierce ally to the gifted learners they serve.
Holding all aspects of the learning in trust- Holding all aspects of the learning in trust means the teacher oversees the student’s time,
resources, space, learning, etc in the utmost confidence of the learner. This requires a great deal of trust because they must be able to match the needs of the student with the content they are teaching. This requires an ability to individualize. In future articles, I will share how technology can transform learning and help a teacher differentiate lessons for all learners. Teachers need to be willing to give control of the learning experiences over to their students and then respond to the unique need of each learner. This approach empowers the student with an appropriate level of freedom to explore his or her own learning objectives.
Foster joint decision making- Servant teachers exercise stewardship by fostering joint decision making. Sharing the power over decisions creates a shared passion for the outcome of the process. Shared thinking takes place and the experience benefits from the input of both the teacher and the student. This mutuality is important because it balances out the learning experience.
Give the students what they need, no more, no less- When practiced, the teacher offers guidance for the students but does not take on the learning. The teacher one source of learning, but brings together the best human, print, and digital resources for the student to make meaning of the content and make it their own.
Be a fierce steward of educational time, student’s talent, and classroom resources- As a fierce steward of time, the gifted teacher might assess a student’s prior knowledge and design curriculum around the student’s passions and interests because they have already mastered within the prescribed curriculum. As a steward of talent, the teacher must assess each student’s abilities and match the content to the learner’s individual needs. As a steward of resources, the teacher must assess the needs of each learner to bring forward the best human, print, and digital resources to meet each child’s needs.
When the teacher has a servant’s heart and puts the student’s needs first, students can reach their full potential. In the comments below, or on your favorite social media using the hashtag #giftedresources, please share how you are stewarding the time, talents, and resources of the gifted students in your life.