Sunday, December 30, 2018

Reflections on Exceptional Teachers

When I think back on my teachers who were most effective, there is something they all had in common: they all seemed excited to be teaching us.  Teachers should always be aware of the attitude and energy they bring into class. I promise you, the students are aware of it.

When teachers show up for work, deliver quality lessons, and treat the students well… even when they don’t feel like it… they demonstrate their professionalism.  And they earn the admiration of their colleagues.

My daughter has talked for several years about how much she loved her 5th grade teacher.  When I asked her what she liked about her. Her response: “She liked us!” So simple… yet so profound.  Kids gravitate to the teachers that like them.

There is a teacher that both my sons had in high school.  They both raved about her. When I asked my younger son what he liked about her.  Without hesitating her, he said: “She cares so much! She cares so much about her job!”  The kids notice. Never forget… the kids notice.

We talk a lot about students being engaged.  It occurs to me that one of the hallmarks of an exceptional classroom is the TEACHER being engaged.  Kids love it when their teacher is active, involved, and energized. And they can tell which ones are really “into it” … and which ones aren’t.

In a great classroom, the students aren’t the only learners.  The TEACHER is a learner also. When teachers are curious, when they are vulnerable, when they continue to grow… they provide stronger instruction, and they provide a great example to their students.

It’s nice when teachers are creative, dynamic, and innovative… but I actually think I prefer patient, flexible, and kind.

I asked a principal one time what makes his teacher so awesome.  He said she is relentless about trying new strategies or finding resources to help kids understand math.  She will do whatever it takes to help them succeed. Exceptional teachers will do whatever it takes!

Good relationships with students usually do not happen accidentally.  They are cultivated by exceptional educators intentionally.

Teachers don’t have to be funny, creative, innovative, inspiring, or charismatic.  But they have to care about their students and take pride in their work. If they do those two… they will have a remarkable career.

Exceptional teachers teach… and then reteach… and sometimes tutor individually… because they realize not every student gets it the first time, (or even the second time.)

We can’t control the home environment of our students, but exceptional teachers control their classroom environment.  Under their care, the students can feel safe, feel supported, and feel loved.

Exceptional teachers don’t need WiFi to engage their students.  Technology is a great thing… but the passion of the teachers is always the most important variable in the classroom.

Great teachers make it look easy…. But they actually work really hard at it.  Greatness never comes without commitment and sacrifice.

The most effective teachers are the ones who realize they’re the most important variable in the classroom.

The legacy of an exceptional teacher is not built in their lesson plan book… but in their conversations with students.  The lessons are important… but the relationships are essential.
Passionate teachers don’t just inspire their students… they inspire their colleagues.  They have the potential to impact the culture of the entire school.
Most exceptional teachers did not start out that way. But... they reflected on what worked and what didn't; they learned from their colleagues; and they always kept their focus on students.
Every teacher has the potential to be a better teacher.


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