What Great Teachers Do Differently – 17 Things That Matter Most

Todd Whitaker is a colleague that is very generous and helps all educators throughout the nation.  To me, he is one of those “rock star” educators that you may feel afriad to go up to and have a conversation.  The best thing is, he is so approachable and wants to give back to the field. I seem to be in his presence at least once a year or more, and along with his wife, Beth, they want to help all educators be the best in their field.  Beth called me out and another colleague this summer, in front of the entire NAESP national conference during her presentation.  She looked at me and then at Erin and made us stand up and talk to the crowd about being a connected lead learner.  That was interesting to say the least! My heart dropped – on the spot talking to thousands of principals.  Yikes!

I have shared with you many times What Great Teacher Do Differently by Todd Whitaker and Beth has contributed to this book as well.  They recently edited the book and came out with a second edition, adding three extra reasons; Meaning What You Say, Focusing on Students First, and Putting Yourself in Students’ Postion.  Here they are again below:

Teachers are the filters for the day-to-day reality of school.  Whether we are aware of it or not, our behavior sets the tone.  If students overhear us whining or complaining about something, it may be the talk of the school for days even if it was something minor.  By the same token, if we always approach things in a positive manner, then this is what the students reflect.  The most effective educators understand this and choose their filters carefully.

How Is Your Day Going?

        As educators, we hear this question many times a day.  Our response not only influences how others view us, but also affects the frame of mind of the person who asked.  What’s more, we have choices about how to respond.

        You can smile at a fellow teacher and say, “Things are great!  How about with you?”  Or you can respond, “That Jimmy Wallace is getting on my nerves!” – and all of a sudden Jimmy Wallace is getting on that teacher’s nerves too (whether the teacher knows him or not).

        You may be thinking that you could not do this because you would never lie.  Hmm:  So when the second graders ask if you like the mural they drew, what do you tell them?  How do you answer the question, “Honey, do these pants make me look fat?”  Again, it is always up to us to determine what gets through our filters and what does not.

What Great Teachers Do Differently

17 Things That Matter Most

  1.  Great teachers never forget that it is people, not programs, that determine the quality of the school.
  2.   Great teachers establish clear expectations at the start of the year and follow them consistently as the year progresses.
  3. Great teachers manage their classrooms thoughtfully.  When they say something, they mean it.
  4.   When a student misbehaves, great teachers have one goal: to keep that behavior from happening again.
  5.   Great teachers have high expectations for students but even higher expectations for themselves.
  6. Great teachers know who is the variable in the classroom:  They are. Good teachers consistently strive to improve, and they focus on something they can control – their own performance.
  7. Great teachers focus on students first, with a broad vision that keeps everything in perspective.
  8. Great teacher create a positive atmosphere in their classrooms and schools.  They treat every person with respect.  In particular, they understand the power of praise.
  9. Great teachers consistently filter out the negatives that don’t matter and share a positive attitude.
  10. Great teachers work hard to keep their relationships in good repair – to avoid personal hurt and to repair any possible damage.
  11.  Great teachers have the ability to ignore trivial disturbances and the ability to respond to inappropriate behavior without escalating the situation.
  12. Great teachers have a plan and purpose for everything they do.  If things don’t work out the way they had envisioned, they reflect on what they could have done differently and adjust their plans accordingly.
  13. Before making any decision or attempting to bring about any change, great teachers ask themselves one central question:  What will the best people think?
  14. Great teachers continually ask themselves who is most comfortable and who is least comfortable with each decision they make.  They treat everyone as if they were good.
  15. Great teachers have empathy for students and clarity about how others see them.
  16.  Great teachers keep standardized testing in perspective; they center on the real issue of student learning.
  17.  Great teachers care about their students.  They understand that behaviors and beliefs are tied to emotion, and they understand the power of emotion to jump-start change.

Put this at the forefront of everything you do, every day!  Have a great week!


Other News

  • Bus Duty for Dec 8- Dec 19:  Team 7:  Jennifer Prevost, Marci Woods, Bev Phelps, Pam Ault Upcoming bus duty: Jan 5 – Jan 16 Team 8 : Kelly Ayen, Tanya Charron, Gina Caldwell.
  • For teachers who received my email about the second walk through evaluation, please make sure you schedule a time with Mrs. Sheen on my calendar before the break.  Thank you for your help!
  • Budgets are due to Mrs. Sheen by January 6, 2015.
  • The Sheriffs Department will be here December 15th and 16th to get our students their picture id’s for the Operation Safe Child id’s for your planning purposes.
  • Mrs. French will be at East Side on Wednesday, December 17.  Please see her email.  (Just a note, I will be out this day as I need to run down to Syracuse to check my eyes.  Hold the fort down!)
  • Happy Holidays to all!  Scott and I are traveling and out of the country the majority of the weeks.  We both wish you and yours a safe and relaxing two weeks.  Enjoy it.  We won’t see this for a while!
  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!   Just do right!

Other Items of Interest (Read at your leisure!)

  • If you are looking for a clear, concise explanation of high school requirements and how they are changing, this deck will help.
  • Has school changed? Not so much. This video juxtaposes schools of the past and present and compares the world, past and present.
  • One of the math shifts is fluency – but it is commonly misunderstand to mean a return to rote memorization of math facts. This article explains mathematical fluency very well. It’s a great article to have teachers of math read and discuss.
  • The American School Board Journal has sharedThe 12 Rules of Christmas” with advice for school at this time of year.
  • You might hear the question: “How do I fit in PBL with everything else I have to do?” The answer is that PBL is the way you do it all in an engaging, meaningful way. Read this for a more thorough explanation.
  • A quick review of the literature reminds us that it’s not STEM that makes a difference, it’s the teaching and learning that makes a difference no matter the subjects. Teaching science, technology, engineering, and math can be done well or not.
  • If you are taking a good, hard look at the Essential Elements of Standards-Focused Middle-Level Schools and Programs, think about the Essential Elements: Schools-to-Watch program. You can learn from the list of middle-level schools that have been recognized in New York (great schools to visit). If you are thinking about applying, the 2015-2016 materials have just been posted.
  • It’s a long list, but it identifies the traits of effective leaders. In this case, it’s a timeless list.
  • Commissioner John King is leaving SED to take a job with USDOE.
  • These ideas for creating more teacher time came from teachers.
  • This quick guide describes a variety of Web 2.0 tools that are common in schools.
  • Not many of our high school graduates complete their college degree in 2-years or 4-years, which has all sorts of financial and social implications.
  • A teacher urges us to end the game of school and replace it with Standards-Based Grading.
  • If you are considering a New Year’s resolution to eliminate extra credit, thispost will get you thinking.
  • Icon Play
    Watch how a math teacher partners with an inclusion teacher to create a step-by-step method for solving equations and supporting every student in a classroom.
    Icon Play
    Using the arts as a scaffold helps all students develop key skills in an accessible environment. Notice how Lindsay Young introduces activities that gradually release responsibility to her students.
    Icon Play
    See how one school pairs student needs with teacher expertise to improve learning.

A Touch of Humor


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