What Makes a Great Teacher?

This week I saw an awesome article from the Washington Post that made me think of all the awesome teachers we have here at school.  It was about Ellie Herman and some lessons she has learned.  Ellie worked for 20 years as an American television writer. She worked on some small shows you may have heard of:  Doogie Howser, M.D., Melrose Place, and Desperate Housewives among others.  However, in 2007 she decided to become an English teacher and took a job working in a very different school environment than ours, one where 96% of the students are living below the poverty line in South Los Angeles, California.  In 2013, Ellie stopped teaching and started observing other teachers to try and learn from them.  She also started writing about what she was observing and learning; it is phenomenal stuff.

Ellie is a fantastic writer (as one could assume) and easy to read.  I want to say this as clearly as possible:  If you have never bothered to read something I’ve shared, let this be your first…it’s great.

Once you’ve read that post go ahead and explore some more…start with the front page or this article about why “love is the answer”.

If you need convincing, here are five practices Ellie observed in great teachers (she explains these in her post):

1.  Great teachers listen to their students.

2.  Great teachers have an authentic vision for their students.

3.  Great teachers have an unequivocal belief in all students’ potential.

4.  Great teachers are calm, persistent pushers.

5.  Great teachers practice non-attachment to short-term results.

These aren’t new ideas, they’re not even ground-breaking.  They are good reminders though and the way Ellie describes these traits is very energizing.  I’m most emotionally attached to numbers three and four as you may have guessed, I love to keep pushing (sometimes pulling/dragging) those kids who need the extra support because I very strongly believe in all students’ potential.  I also can’t help but notice how this all keeps coming back to the Mindset conversation 🙂

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