It is no coincidence that some teachers are adored by their students and some teachers are not. And while teachers that are adored by their students are not always great, all great teachers are always adored by their students. During my 17 years as a classroom teacher, instructional coach and vice principal I have noticed that are certain things that great teachers do,that whether they realize or not, make them great.
Great Teachers Treat Students Equitably Not Equally
All students are not the same. Great teachers realize this and they make it a point to give each one of their students exactly what they need, when they need it. They create a classroom culture such that each child realizes this and they are okay with it because they know that when the time comes, their needs will be met.
Great Teachers Give Students a Fresh Start Every Single Day
Everybody makes mistakes. Especially children. Great teachers realize this and they allow their students to start over each day. They don’t hold grudges and they don’t treat children based on something they did the day before. The German writer Goethe believed that “the way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they become.”
Great Teachers Realize It’s About the Person, Not the Product
It is easy to get so caught up in instruction that teachers sometimes fail to notice destruction. Self destruction that is. A great teacher does not place completion of an assignment above the well-being of a student. Their student comes in hungry on test day. They give the test later and feed the child now. A child comes in and is noticeably upset about something unrelated to school. They stop what they were going to teach them and start to help them put their pieces back together. People first, products second.
Great Teachers Make an Effort To Connect With Their Students
Great teachers make the effort to learn about their students and what interests them. They attend their games, recitals, concerts, etc. Because if is matters to their student then it matters to them. It doesn’t matter if they like rap music, understand baseball or enjoy dance. Great teachers pretend that they do and this means the world to their students.
Great Teachers Celebrate Strengths and Help With Weaknesses
Students already know their weaknesses. It is not important to constantly point them out. The great teacher will gently help them with their weaknesses without making them feel less than whole. More importantly, the great teacher will point out students’ strengths in order to build them up. A great teacher will help their students create a highlight reel, not a bloopers page.
Great Teachers Apologize When They’re Wrong
Teaching can be very difficult and very stressful. There will be days when teachers make mistakes. They are human. Just like their students. Great teachers realize this and freely admit when they make mistakes. And they apologize. In front of the class. And they mean it. Their students appreciate this and in turn learn to do the same.
Great Teachers Don’t Bring Baggage Into the Classroom, But Instead Help Students Carry Their’s
Many teachers these days are juggling multiple responsibilities. Raising families, taking classes, working a second job, etc. It is very easy for teachers to let stressors outside of school affect their behavior and attitude at school. Great teachers don’t do this. Period! On the other hand, they realize that their students bring much baggage to school that is oftentimes way to heavy for them. So they help them carry theirs’, instead of unloading their own.
* In rereading my post I have realized that a couple of my reasons are simply regurgitations of Todd Whitaker’s thoughts and ideas. This was not deliberate, I think I simply have internalized so much of his thinking, especially from his book What Great Teachers Do Differently, that it has become a part of my own. His writing, thinking and speaking have had such a profound impact on me that I simply wanted to give credit where it was due. Thank you Todd!