At this point, I would like to draw upon the experience and guidance of the IFSTA text, Fire Service Instructor to illustrate how the hierarchy of needs can use within the confines of the classroom.
MASLOW'S HIERARCHY OF NEEDS
• Self- Actualization: Performing beyond what is required
• Esteem: Recognized by peers. Praising in front of peers
• Social and Belonging: Being accepted by others determines classroom behavior
• Safety and Security: Adequate knowledge base to belong in class
• Physiological: Pleasing classroom environment
Like many other parts of individual human behavior these needs are progressive in nature. That is to say that we may not move on to a higher level until the needs at the lowest level are fulfilled. It is hard to be an active class participant when you are hungry, thirsty or have a need to go to the bathroom.
Further, it is very difficult to reach a high level of self-esteem when you are not accepted by your fellow students. As the leader and teacher, it is up to you to see that these environmental needs are met. In the absence of a proper environment, learning will be stifled. The motivation of the student will be thwarted by the lack attention paid to the environment by the instructor.
I have seen cases where an avid learner was confounded by the negative actions of their fellow students. Their need to learn was over come by the harmful manner in which they were treated by their fellow learners.
The sad thing about this sort of interaction is that the instructor involved was not sensitive to the parameters of the situation. Either they liked the negative people and let them run rampant, or they were too dense to see what was happening in front of their eyes.
The mind is an extremely complex tool. When it is ready and willing, it can do wonders. When it does not want to perform, it is difficult for the person possessing the mind to achieve anything. It is also critical for me to stress the delicate balance involved.
There are also influences outside of the classroom that can have a deleterious impact upon the ability of the student to participate actively in the educational experience. Illness, marital stress, family problems, and job-related hassles can all take a toll on the ability of the learner to play their part in the educational interaction.
The actual motivation for the student can come from a variety of sources. Whether it is the need for money, recognition, or promotion, the need drives the actions of the learner. It is this desire of the student to learn that must be nurtured by the leader.
Over the past several months I have worked to convince you that if you are to succeed as a leader, you must success as a teacher. If your troops cannot look to your for the new skills and knowledge they need to do their job, the will look elsewhere. And your time as a leader will have passed.
As I have said, a good leader is a teacher. And a great leader is a great teacher. Keep this thought in your heart and ponder it frequently. Wouldn't it be a really sad thing to arrive at the end of your life and discover how many opportunities to teach and share knowledge you missed along the way?
If you are a poor instructor, work to become better. If you are an adequate teacher, work to be good. If you are a good teacher, strive to be great. It is all up to you my friends. Rest assured that your organization will profit from your efforts. The journey to success as a teacher will be well worth the effort.
Have a great trip.