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Strive Toward the Best Teaching
By Terri Fuller
Every school administrator strives to hire great teachers and help them to be their best. It is inspiring to observe the best teachers in action. You know the ones: those who analyze student work and revise instruction to meet student needs on a consistent basis—without being told; those who communicate with parents and administrators in a timely manner; and those who build positive student relationships. These are the teachers we want teaching our students.
However, the “best talent,” “best communicators,” “best team players,” and “best teachers” don’t materialize overnight. As administrators, we have a responsibility to support teachers so they can be their best.
During his plenary session at NAESP’s 2013 Annual Conference, Todd Whitaker provided practical tips for helping teachers excel. His session was engaging and humorous, and it left my colleagues and me energized to develop, implement, and execute changes in order to impact student achievement.
Whitaker shared several strategies that I am certain I will implement this school year:
- Teach, don’t tell. Teachers are usually doing the best that they know how to do. Administrators must model and establish expectations, and “teach them what we do.”
- Treat everyone as if they are good. In his session, Whitaker stressed the importance of creating a culture that “puts life back into teachers.” He argued that administrators cannot afford to deliberately ridicule ineffective teachers. Instead, we must ignore their ineffective behavior so that they don’t create a toxic culture. Further, said Whitaker, that principals must have the ability to encourage average teachers who are striving to be the best.
- Bring teachers to each other’s rooms. Create a mutual exchange among teachers who want to be the best. Create walk-through teams, visit classrooms with a non-judgmental attitude, and create mentor relationships between new teachers and the best teachers.
- Use technology to support learning. Encourage teachers to use social media.Twitter allows for the best teachers to correspond with excellent educators across the nation and the world. Teachers will benefit from viewing videos of their colleagues to gain insight into various instructional practices.
- Carefully assign mentors with student teachers. Administrators must think critically about mentoring partnerships. You want to create a successful experience for both the student-teacher and the mentor. We must have the courage to inform teachers who are not the best that this is not the time for them to have a student-teacher, and that they should focus on their own professional development goals.
“We need all of our teachers to be good teachers,” concluded Whitaker. He truly inspired me to become a leader to all teachers. I’m confident that I and many of my fellow attendees will inspire deliberate, positive changes this coming school year. We are on a mission to be the best, thanks to Todd Whitaker!
Terri Fuller is assistant principal at Ben W. Murch Elementary School in Washington, D.C.
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