As I complete my thirteenth year as an educator, I would like to share thirteen lessons learned throughout my time as a teacher and/or principal.
1. I’ve come to realize great educators take responsibility for their own learning rather than waiting for the school district to tell them when and what to learn.
2. Great educators take responsibility for student learning and believe wholeheartedly that failure to reach mastery is not an option. By the same token, they understand that failure is a success in learning.
3. Great educators continuously rethink the way in which they learn and are comfortable with being uncomfortable. They work to remain intellectually curious inside and outside the classroom.
4. Great teachers never fail to plan and understand that 90% of differentiation happens before the students ever enter the classroom.
5. Talking about great ideas and actually putting these ideas into action are two very different things. Great educators let their actions speak for themselves.
6. I’ve experienced first hand that excellence doesn’t happen by accident. Great educators believe there are no 9 to 5 jobs in education, only opportunities to make a difference.
7. As an educator, if you find yourself stuck between two decisions, I’ve learned the one that requires more work is the best decision for kids.
8. As a school leader or teacher, “Because I said so” or “Because its the way we have always done it” is never an appropriate response to the relevant question “Why?”
9. “No news is good news” is no longer the case when it comes to parent communication. Effective educators strive to establish partnerships with parents to support student learning. Great teachers understand this relationship may be the most important ingredient in a child’s success.
10. Great teachers refrain from grading students during formative assessments and assist students in learning from their successes, failures, mistakes and misconceptions.
11. “I’ve never heard of a student not doing his work; it’s our work he’s not doing.” If you give homework at all, it should be meaningful, purposeful, efficient, personalized, doable, and inviting. Most important, great teachers allow students to freely communicate when they struggle with homework and can do so without penalty.
12. Competition can’t beat collaboration! Great educators improve the curriculum together. They not only share responsibility for the achievement of all students but also admit other teachers contribute to their success.
13. “I see the student as myself.” Great teachers move beyond the narrow vision of content, skills, and knowledge and ensure that all of their student’s educational needs are met. They are committed to educating the whole child.
What lessons have you learned? Please share.
Stay connected, Shawn