Monday, July 27, 2009

Becoming a Great Teacher

One of my favorite books is What Great Teachers Do Differently by Todd Whitaker. I blogged about it last fall and how I hoped to use the books ideals to set the course for my school year. This summer, with school looming near on the horizon, I am writing my own steps to Becoming a Great Teacher, with Whitaker as my inspiration.

1. Forget about whose job it is and just do it. I personally often catch myself thinking.... hmmm.. I don't need to THAT, it's the secretary's job, or the principal's, or the custodian's, or another teacher's... I think I have enough to do to fulfill my own job requirements, why would I step outside that box to help someone else. This year, I will strive to help others as much as possible, weighing the cost to me carefully, and if that cost is minimal, things like answering the phone, putting the next person's copies on to run, or grabbing a kid to sweep the hallway when there is a mess. All those take a minute amount of MY time but can make the other party's day run smoother.

2. Focus on the students I do not connect with or particularly like. I know, I know...... you have never had a student YOU didn't like! I confess, I have, usually one or two each year out of the 70 students I teach. There is no real reason I don't like that particular young lady or man, they have done nothing undeserving of my attentions, but for whatever reason, I find myself detached from them. My goal this year is to make the extra effort TO CONNECT ON A PERSONAL LEVEL with those kids. I want them to feel worthy in my classroom, to avoid any chance they sense my dislike for them. I will strive to truly find characteristics in them I appreciate and dwell upon these.

3. Be supportive of other teachers in their goals, their curriculum and their personal lives. I tend to be all business at school, rarely socializing in the lounger, or working with other teachers to coordinate our curriculums. This year, I want to reach outside my own classroom to work more openly with others, encouraging their projects, and finding ways to support what they are doing in their classrooms. Perhaps this will be a way to help those teachers who struggle with classroom management and meeting their curriculum goals?
4. Be a stronger advocate for our students. I am non-confrontational as a general rule, but as the years go by, I have become more and more certain that we as teachers must be the protector of all that is right for our students. We cannot stand by and allow others to slight children when it comes to education. While it may not be "my place" to tell others what to do in their classrooms, that does not mean I cannot be more proactive in making suggestions about teaching, curriculum or classroom management. I can offer articles and books to share, engage in conversations, as well as just gently point out how their decisions may be impacting students and their learning.
If I can attack those 4 goals with gusto and finesse, I think my year will be off to a great start. I will know I am making a positive impact on students, other teachers, and ultimately my own classroom!

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