As you start this new school year, here are a few proverbs that you can incorporate into your teaching, the management of your classroom and, most importantly, in your relationships with students.
- Behavior rewarded is behavior repeated.
- There is never a wrong time to do the right thing.
- “What we allow, we teach; what we accept, they will do” (Michele Borba).
- The classroom is as much a social setting as it is an academic one.
- Character is about second chances but only if you learn from your mistakes.
- “If it is not right, do not do it; if it is not true, do not say it” (M. Aurelius).
- “Relationships are to learning as location is to real estate” (James Comer).
- “The world is run by ‘C’ students” (Al Maguire).
What can we learn from the practices of effective, competent and experienced teachers? According to the December 2010 issue of Marvin Marshall's monthly newsletter, when over 100 principals were asked to describe qualities they look for when hiring teachers, they listed the following:
- A good attitude
- The ability to take care of problems
- A love of learning that could be passed on to students
- The ability to handle stress and be resilient
- The ability to read emotions and detect when students are apathetic
- The ability to take responsibility for their classroom and schedule
- A willingness to try something new
- A love of children
- A desire to be a role model
- A passion for making a difference
Other admirable characteristics included being a team player, enthusiasm, a good sense of humor, flexibility, creativity and self-confidence.
In “Four steps to close the gap,” Gail Connelly, executive director of the National Association of Elementary School Principals, writes, "Effective teachers do all three of the following. They are extremely good classroom managers. They know how to teach lessons that engage students, spark their eagerness to continue learning and then lead them to the mastery of the subject matter. They have positive expectations for student success."
In February of 2013, internationally remowned author and speaker Annette Breaux she wrote an article for SmartBrief titled, “Can anyone be a great teacher?”
In summary, she writes that great teachers “truly love children; are masters at classroom management; possess a thorough understanding of their subject matter; understand that they are actors on a stage … capable of entertaining, capturing and enrapturing their audiences every day; are positive, kind, compassionate, patient people; don’t impose their moods on their students; [and] have a sense of humor and share it daily with their students.”
She adds that “great teachers recognize the importance of establishing positive relationships with their students [and] have high expectations of all students.” Furthermore, “they are not perfect teachers, and when they make mistakes, they act as good role models do, admitting their mistakes, learning from these mistakes and offering apologies if necessary.”
One of my weekly pleasures is to read Neville Billimoria’s blog, “Soul Food Friday.” The “Positive Teacher Pledge,” which appears below with some minor edits, comes from his July 26, 2013 post. As each of you begin a new school year, I encourage you to take this pledge. Repeat after me!
- I pledge to be a positive teacher and positive influence on my fellow educators, students and school.
- I promise to be positively contagious and share smiles, laughter, encouragement and joy with those around me.
- I vow to stay positive in the face of negativity.
- When I am surrounded by pessimism, I will choose optimism.
- When I feel fear, I will choose faith.
- When I want to hate, I will choose love.
- When I want to be bitter, I will choose to get better.
- When I experience a challenge, I will look for opportunities to learn and grow and to help others grow.
- When faced with adversity, I will find strength.
- When I experience a setback, I will be resilient.
- When I meet failure, I will move forward and create a future success.
- With vision, hope and faith, I will never give up and will always find ways to make a difference.
- I believe my best days are ahead of me, not behind me.
- I believe I’m here for a reason and my purpose is greater than my challenges.
- I believe that being positive not only makes me better; it makes my students better.
- Today and every day I will be positive and strive to make a positive impact on my students, school and world!
Ed DeRoche is a former teacher, administrator, school board member and dean. He has written several books and articles on character education. Currently he is the director of the Character Education Resource Center at the University of San Diego and teaches in-class and online courses on instructional strategies, curriculum and programs, and character-based classroom management. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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