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We Must Look to the Best

I recently finished reading Todd Whittaker’s What Great Teachers Do Differently: 17 Things That Matter Most. While I’m always skeptical of the promise of “best practices” or any type of guarantee, I quickly realized that the things that Whittaker discusses in this book really are the things that the colleagues I consider to be the best really do.

And Whittaker makes the argument that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to the worst to improve our practice. Part of the problem lies in the fact that “many ineffective teachers also think they are doing a good job,” and that building the ability to self-reflect is really hard work. But we can only deeply self reflect and improve our practice when we have exemplars to emulate.

Although there were 17 practices that he shares, I’m really thinking about these:

-“When a student misbehaves, the great teacher has one goal: to keep that behavior from happening again. The least effective teacher often has a different goal: revenge.” (25)
-“Great teachers look to themselves for answers, while poor teachers look elsewhere.” (38)
-“The very best teachers —whether they are eager first adopters or a little more cautious—ask themselves one question: ‘Is this the best thing for students?’ If the answer is yes, they will move forward. Others ask, ‘Is this the best thing for me?’ That is one reason getting everyone on board is such a challenge.” (44)
-“One easily remembered standard for classroom management is that we always treat eour students as if their parents were in the room.” (86)

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