The modern education system has moved away from the old standard of teaching, and instead embraced the importance of learning about the individual student, and the best ways for them to learn. Nanette Yabiku is an established educator and administrator who’s utilized the philosophies of John Maxwell to create a classroom that emphasizes learning the personalities of each student, and implementing tools and techniques that make the classroom a place of compassion and confidence in everyone.
The educators of our world hold one of the most important and valuable positions needed to aid future generations in their growth and development. Elementary school students especially are not only learning the basics of grammar and long division, but how to be a person in this ever changing world.
More and more schools are embracing methods of teaching that work to create a classroom that is collaborative, compassionate, and tailored to the personalities of each and every student. Nanette Yabiku has been a pioneer in the education system, especially when it comes to the methods of teaching she’s not only implemented herself, but assisted others in embracing in and out of the classroom.
Utilizing the philosophies of John Maxwell, known as the leadership guru of the world, through the Maxwell Leadership program, Yabiku has been able to change the way in which she leads her school, students, and parents. Her skills have also been passed along to other educators in her sphere of influence, and will continue to ripple throughout the entire education system.
“As educators, we want the best for our students the same way a parent does, and through this method of collaboration, we can provide an educational and home environment that promotes curiosity, compassion, and confidence.”
Yabiku’s journey to become an educator and administrator began with her own experience as an elementary school teacher. She learned very early on in life the value of our nation’s educators, and wanted to contribute to that herself.
“I’ve wanted to be a teacher ever since I was in elementary school. When I went to college I majored in psychology, because the human mind always intrigued me, but I knew deep down that teaching was still the passion I wanted to pursue, so I went into the world of education.
I’ve taught throughout my whole career, from kindergarten to fourth grade. When I was teaching fourth grade, I was reaching a point where I realized I needed to become a stronger leader, so I joined the John Maxwell Team, which is now known as Maxwell Leadership.”
Through Maxwell Leadership, Yabiku learned many skills about being a strong leader, which, unbeknown to her at the time, would aid and transition her into a position of coaching. When she first became certified to coach, she was able to practice certain leadership skills and coaching techniques with other coaches, which then naturally transitioned into use in the classroom.
“For example, when I worked with a child who didn’t understand something, instead of re-teaching it over again, I was able to utilize my coaching skills to help them figure out for themselves what exactly they knew and didn’t understand. Then I would ask questions to help them clarify how to find the missing skill they needed. Resilience began to grow, and I started to see a real change in the kids in the ways in which they went about problem solving,” she stated.
“By asking questions on what they already knew and using that information to better understand a new lesson or skill, I was able to create a much more engaging and enriching style of teaching.”
Yabiku explained how she noticed her students becoming a lot more empowered and confident in their ability to work through problems and understand lessons, which in turn made her feel empowered in the ways in which she was teaching. The kids started responding better, leading to more positive outcomes in the classroom.
Yabiku was utilizing her coaching skills in the classroom for about a year and a half when a position opened up at the school she was working at, allowing her to become an academic coach.
“Everything in my path has progressed in a very fluid way. It’s always felt like a journey I was meant to take to better myself as a leader and academic, but also to make a real change in the educational setting and how students learn as well.”
This natural journey for Yabiku led to her continuing to build her repertoire of skills that would continue to strengthen the work she did in her school. Throughout her career, she has earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and teaching certification from Sonoma State University and a master’s degree, Administrative Services Credential Certificate of Eligibility, and Reading and Literacy Authorization from Point Loma Nazarene University, as well as a certification in coaching and DISC through the John Maxwell Team and a certification in Cognitive Coaching through Cognitive Coaching Seminars Foundation.
Every certification and degree has given Yabiku new skills to apply in the classroom, while also strengthening her already massive passion for education. Her position within the Maxwell Leadership team, however, is what truly made a difference in her journey, and therefore made a difference in her school.
“John Maxwell is the leadership guru of the world. He eventually partnered with Paul Martinelli to form the Maxwell Leadership team; a platform to give others like myself the chance to learn and grow through their online university and weekly access to high quality faculty and mentors.”
Yabiku explained that what John Maxwell is doing is training the leaders of the world while teaching them how to help others within their field.
“Maxwell Team Members learn how to become better speakers, coaches, and trainers. Their purpose is to develop leadership in others. Learning to communicate well is an important part of the training. Through studying the Maxwell Method of DISC, we are able to train people to understand their own style of personality as well as recognize the personality styles of the people in their lives. This helps them build stronger relationships and to communicate more effectively which leads to having greater influence. All of this creates stronger leadership ability, and stronger leaders in the classroom are a difference maker.”
“I’ve used all the materials and the skills I’ve learned within the past eight years not only in the classroom, but with the parents of the students as well.
In our school district, we have a very strong Family and Community Engagement (F.A.C.E.) department which includes a liaison on every campus. The FACE team strives to strengthen the relationship between parents, schools, and the District. It provides opportunities to bring parents and guardians into the schools, because when parents become a part of their child’s education, research shows they do better in school. The FACE department is also responsible for providing the parents with educational opportunities which includes parenting skills and helping the parents understand the education their children are being provided.”
Yabiku’s role within this sector of her district has been to train staff and parents how to use the Maxwell Method of DISC in their roles as leaders within their schools and their families.
D.I.S.C. is the Maxwell Team’s method used to “help individuals identify their personal strengths and capitalize on their talents to make them more effective individuals. In identifying one’s own and others’ innate abilities, attributes, weaknesses and fears, the report helps people communicate better and work together more effectively.”
The FACE staff members learned how to use these skills to build stronger relationships with each other and the families they serve. Stronger relationships with families help our students succeed in their educational experience.
According to the method: “The concept of the DISC is based on William Marston’s theories, which postulate that people basically possess one or more of four different personality styles:
Dominance – this describes someone who is direct, decisive, a problem-solver, a risk taker and a self-starter.
Influence – this describes someone who is enthusiastic, trusting, optimistic, persuasive, talkative, impulsive and emotional.
Steadiness – this describes someone who is a good listener, team player, possessive, steady, predictable, understanding and friendly.
Compliance – this describes someone who is accurate, analytical, conscientious, careful, precise, meticulous and systematic.”
Yabiku teaches her DISC class “Family Stressed to Family Best” through her district’s Parent University, an educational program where parents attend classes on six Saturdays throughout the school year. She is responsible for teaching four of the six Saturdays. The parents learn how to communicate better with each other and how to cope with various stressors that appear in life within a family dynamic. This leads to families who complete each other rather than compete against each other.
“When I started this journey as a teacher, I knew that I was growing as an individual, but I didn’t realize that I was growing in a way that other people could see, which I think is something not a lot of us actually think about as we progress through life. I had my friends and family telling me that I changed, for the better, and truly that’s always what I wanted when it came to my career and life. I wanted to become a stronger leader in a way that would positively, and noticeably, impact the people and students around me.”
Yabiku explained the shift she and her staff had experienced firsthand when implementing the DISC method, as well as other skills from the Maxwell Leadership team. Previously, it could be frustrating for educators to try to methodize a way to help kids learn and grow, however, now an important question to ask when a child struggles to behave and learn is, “What is this child’s personality style and how can we utilize that knowledge to shift how we educate them for a more positive and successful outcome?”
“When I’m working with children, I’m able to analyze and understand their personalities and draw comparisons to their learning experiences.
For example, I had a student that I worked with who has a Dominant personality (the ‘D’ in ‘DISC’) which essentially can be defined as someone who’s a born leader, and has a tendency to want to be in control. Thanks to my knowledge through Maxwell Leadership, it’s easier for me to tackle any resistance to the learning process. It no longer becomes a battle that I am unresourced to handle.
‘Influencer’ personality types, or the ‘I’s’, they’re the personalities who love attention and tend to get attention. They’re the pencil tappers in the classroom who can’t really sit still and want to be engaged in conversation all the time. Understanding that, I’m able to break down what they need; whether it is movement, engaging their physical bodies while also learning, or just being heard..
In my coaching role, I’m able to help educators figure out how to give the child the attention they need so the child stays engaged.”
While these methods aren’t fool-proof in terms of alleviating the responsibility of managing an entire classroom of various personalities, it does provide a longer list of tools and techniques that benefit the educator and the students in creating an engaging collaborative learning environment.
“When I was growing up, you were assigned your seat and row and were expected to listen to the teacher and follow every instruction exactly as it was presented to you. You were meant to be obedient, but education no longer works like that because we’ve learned that every child learns differently, and deserves a chance to get educated in a way that benefits their personality.”
“Our principal has two main philosophies when it comes to the goals of learning: creating leaders on campus, both adults and children, and inclusion. With special education, the typical model is when a child is identified as having special needs, they’re typically pulled out of the classroom into a separate location to work with the special education teacher.
There’s positive aspects of this, as some kids need those adjusted settings to feel more comfortable in their learning, however, there is a negative side too. I remember when I was a teacher that kids with special education would leave my class to get instruction in a different setting. They missed a big chunk of my instruction. They would come back into the classroom usually during independent practice, but since they weren’t part of the learning in my room, a disconnect appeared, which wasn’t fair to the child. They often felt out of the loop and had a difficult time adjusting to what was happening in the room at the time.
What our principal did was implement methods to create fully inclusive classrooms where students who needed extra support and services would receive it, but in their general education classroom. So instead of leaving the classroom to get help, the help came to them. All the students in the class received the same lesson, but then were supported according to their individual needs.
The cool thing about our campus is that it’s never called out as a special education teacher or aide coming into the classroom. It’s identified as ‘we’re so fortunate because we now have two teachers in the classroom to help progress learning overall.’ There are of course specific children who do need that separation to progress and learn, which is important to note, but through this method we’ve already seen a lot of success.”
Every child needs some level of extra help every once in a while, so by having two teaching leaders in the classroom, the educators can more effectively delegate how and when to either collaborate on a lesson, split up into smaller groups, take turns on certain days teaching, etc. Like Yabiku explained, these methods work to create a learning environment of collaboration, compassion, and confidence in both the educators and the students.
“As a result, what we’ve personally found is that children are generally more well behaved in the classroom. They feel better and feel more supported and confident in their learning by having two adults in the room to help. It’s this intriguing way of utilizing our staff and the creative minds that run a school to be involved in the process of teaching young minds, while giving every single student what they specifically need.”
Just like students, it’s important for educators to constantly be learning in and out of the classroom. Committing to the older standard way of teaching is no longer feasible in the modern education system. In today’s world, our teachers are valued as some of the most integral members of society, as they’re literally giving the future generation the tools, techniques, and knowledge to succeed as they grow older. Implementing the methods that Yabiku has committed to places students, teachers, and schools in general on the path towards that very success.
In the future, Yabiku is planning to focus on consulting, to bring DISC into more classrooms and to help teachers understand their students in a new and different way. The changes she experienced firsthand through implementing these methods has been awe-inspiring, and she wants to give that same valuable knowledge to educators and administrators everywhere.
“Teachers are the leaders of the classroom, and every leader has a lid on their skills. That lid determines the effectiveness of what happens in their classroom, and how much their students can grow. If you help teachers to have a better understanding of their leadership strengths and underdeveloped areas, then provide them with opportunities to grow, they can become the best educators possible, creating stronger connections in the classroom and developing positive influence over their students,” Yabiku concluded.
To learn more about Nanette Yabiku and the Maxwell Leadership program and its methods, check out her page by clicking here!
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.