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Four Things Teachers Can Learn From Beyoncé

23/07/2015 11:49 BST | Updated 21/07/2016 10:59 BST

Beyoncé Giselle Knowles is a formidable entertainment icon. If you have time to sit and watch some of her live performances, you will look incredulously at the screen as she leaves an indelible image in your mind of her coruscating talent not fungible by any stretch of the imagination. I have had the fortune of seeing Beyoncé perform live and she truly rocks the mic right, so to speak. This, however, is not an article about Beyoncé and her dream coat of talents; this is about four ways teachers can learn from Beyoncé.

Simon Sinek, in an unmissable TED talk, exclaims that great leaders inspire action. He says that if leaders want to see the crowd move in their direction that they must inspire them through a common purpose, a 'Why' question answered symmetrically. Teachers must set out their goal or vision for their students. In my opinion, it shouldn't just be 'to get all As' but also to improve confidence or other soft skills. Headteachers must lead their school to a common purpose, setting out a vision for the school, its students and community. The Future Leaders Trust Competency Framework document sets out that the moral purpose is the presiding factor that embodies a great leader and from that, the leader is able to inspire and have an impact on others. Beyoncé has a clear vision for her fans and her audience. She wants them to be true to themselves, to be powerful and sometimes 'Run the World'. Her medium of communication is songs, mine is the classroom. We have such power and influence if we are united by a common vision or purpose from which we want to succeed.

In order for young people to succeed, best practice must be modelled. Aspiring artists need Emin, Warhol and Monet as catalysts of ideas, young writers need Tolstoy, Proust and Austin to inspire and create curiosity in language. All students of any discipline need best practice modelled, the ability to try for oneself and then feedback or a repeat model to redo. As a Harvard professor once said: the best writing is rewriting. Beyoncé in her music, her interviews and, especially, in her live performances models best practice in her field. I could not have learned the Single Ladies dance had it not been for her exceptionally well rehearsed and choreographed routine (demonstrations on request). Michaela Community School, a free school in Brent, has the motto 'Knowledge is Power' and whilst I'm toying with the idea of students experimenting with knowledge early in their education, one cannot doubt the power knowledge brings when the best demonstration/explanation of that knowledge is given by teachers/Beyoncé.

The current government has been pontificating over the importance of building character in young people in schools. Angela Lee Duckworth is a leading force on the 'Grit' movement circulating around blogs and education spaces around the world (somebody still needs to define grit for me). Whilst teachers lament over the government's lack of trust in how we build character across the curriculum anyway, we must subscribe to the new policy and centralise the idea into our planning and extra-curricular activities over the coming years - mixed with the maelstrom of other duties created by the perpetual hailstorm of policy change. Beyoncé, in her 2011 Glastonbury performance, said: "I will always give 100%". Her success may be inimitable and she will join the greats of generations before us, but we must remember two things: effort and practice. Beyoncé has the same number of hours in a day as us and will spend many of those putting incredible effort and practice into her craft. Students have to embody that mindset. There is no such thing as 'I can't', only 'I won't', as everything depends on effort. Teachers should be sourcing Beyoncé at every opportunity in a drive to evidence the importance of effort, practice and mastery.

Finally, Beyoncé is an emblem of equality. In no conversation about her have I heard anybody refer to her background or the financial circumstances surrounding her upbringing. Beyoncé, despite her unfathomable wealth, appears humble about the life that success brings. One of the reasons why I became a teacher was to help those from low socio-economic backgrounds access the same opportunities as their wealthier peers. Beyoncé redefines my raison d'être. Background should be irrelevant. It shouldn't form part of the conversation. The socio-economic circumstances in which you are born shouldn't be part of any dialogue concerning the ability to be successful. Beyoncé is a celebrity whose background is not spoken about. What is spoken about is her talent, her drive and her incredible skill.

Beyoncé is a fearless leader. She is, unquestionably, a powerful force within her field and, indeed, the world. My message is simple: she leads by example, she is driven by a moral purpose and she exhibits the characteristics necessary for success in any vocation. Master those and the world is your oyster.