by Julie DuNeen, Sketch Note
25 Things Successful Teachers Do Differently
If you ask a student what makes him or her successful in school, you probably won’t hear about some fantastic new book or video lecture series. Most likely you will hear something like, “It was all Mr. Jones. He just never gave up on me.”
What students take away from a successful education usually centers on a personal connection with a teacher who instilled passion and inspiration for their subject. It’s difficult to measure success, and in the world of academia, educators are continually re-evaluating how to quantify learning. But the first and most important question to ask is:
Are teachers reaching their students? Here are 25 things successful educators do differently.
1. Successful teachers have clear objectives
How do you know if you are driving the right way when you are traveling somewhere new? You use the road signs and a map (although nowadays it might be SIRI or a GPS). In the world of education, your objectives for your students act as road signs to your destination. Your plan is the map. Making a plan does not suggest a lack of creativity in your curriculum but rather, gives creativity a framework in which to flourish.
2. Successful teachers have a sense of purpose
We can’t all be blessed with “epic” workdays all the time. Sometimes, life is just mundane and tedious. Teachers with a sense of purpose that are able to see the big picture can ride above the hard and boring days because their eye is on something further down the road.
3. Successful teachers are able to live without immediate feedback
There is nothing worse than sweating over a lesson plan only to have your students walk out of class without so much as a smile or a, “Great job teach!” It’s hard to give 100% and not see immediate results. Teachers who rely on that instant gratification will get burned out and disillusioned. Learning, relationships, and education are a messy endeavor, much like nurturing a garden. It takes time, and some dirt, to grow.
4. Successful teachers know when to listen to students and when to ignore them
Right on the heels of the above tip is the concept of discernment with student feedback. A teacher who never listens to his/her students will ultimately fail. A teacher who always listens to his/her students will ultimately fail. It is no simple endeavor to know when to listen and adapt, and when to say, “No- we’re going this way because I am the teacher and I see the long term picture.”
5. Successful teachers have a positive attitude
Negative energy zaps creativity and it makes a nice breeding ground for fear of failure. Good teachers have an upbeat mood, a sense of vitality and energy, and see past momentary setbacks to the end goal. Positivity breeds creativity.
6. Successful teachers expect their students to succeed
7. Successful teachers have a sense of humor
Humor and wit make a lasting impression. It reduces stress and frustration, and gives people a chance to look at their circumstances from another point of view. If you interviewed 1000 students about their favorite teacher, I’ll bet 95% of them were hysterical.
8. Successful teachers use praise authentically
Students need encouragement yes, but real encouragement. It does no good to praise their work when you know it is only 50% of what they are capable of. You don’t want to create an environment where there is no praise or recognition; you want to create one where the praise that you offer is valuable BECAUSE you use it judiciously.
9. Successful teachers know how to take risks
There is a wise saying that reads, “Those who go just a little bit too far are the ones who know just how far one can go.” Risk-taking is a part of the successful formula. Your students need to see you try new things in the classroom and they will watch closely how you handle failure in your risk-taking. This is as important as what you are teaching.
10. Successful teachers are consistent
Consistency is not to be confused with “stuck.” Consistency means that you do what you say you will do, you don’t change your rules based on your mood, and your students can rely on you when they are in need. Teachers who are stuck in their outdated methods may boast consistency, when in fact it is cleverly-masked stubbornness.
11. Successful teachers are reflective
In order to avoid becoming the stuck and stubborn teacher, successful educators take time to reflect on their methods, their delivery, and the way they connect with their students. Reflection is necessary to uncover those weaknesses that can be strengthened with a bit of resolve and understanding.
12. Successful teachers seek out mentors of their own
13. Successful teachers communicate with parents
Collaboration between parents and teachers is absolutely crucial to a student’s success. Create an open path of communication so parents can come to you with concerns and you can do the same. When a teacher and parents present a united front, there is a lower chance that your student will fall through the cracks.
14. Successful teachers enjoy their work
It is easy to spot a teacher who loves their work. They seem to emanate contagious energy. Even if it on a subject like advanced calculus, the subject comes alive. If you don’t love your work or your subject, it will come through in your teaching. Try to figure out why you feel so unmotivated and uninspired. It might have nothing to do with the subject, but your expectations. Adjust them a bit and you might find your love of teaching come flooding back.
15. Successful teachers adapt to student needs
Classrooms are like an ever-evolving dynamic organism. Depending on the day, the attendance roster, and the phase of the moon, you might have to change up your plans or your schedule to accommodate your students. As they grow and change, your methods might have to as well. If your goal is to promote a curriculum or method, it will feel like a personal insult when you have to modify it. Make connecting with your student your goal and you’ll have no trouble changing it up as time moves on.
16. Successful teachers welcome change in the classroom
This relates to the above tip, but in a slightly different way. Have you ever been so bored with your house or your bedroom, only to rearrange it and have it feel like a new room? Change ignites the brain with excitement and adventure. Change your classroom to keep your students on their toes. Simple changes like rearranging desks and routines can breathe new life in the middle of a long year.
17. Successful teachers take time to explore new tools
With the advance of technology, there are fresh new resources and tools that can add great functionality to your classroom and curriculum. There is no doubt that the students you are teaching (far younger than you) probably already use technologies you haven’t tapped into yet. Don’t be afraid to push for technology in the classroom. It is often an underfunded area but in this current world and climate, your students will be growing up in a world where technology is everywhere. Give them a headstart and use technology in your classroom.
18. Successful teachers give their students emotional support
There are days when your students will need your emotional support more than a piece of information. Connecting to your students on an emotional level makes it more likely that they will listen to your counsel and take your advice to heart. Students need mentors as much as they need teachers.
19. Successful teachers are comfortable with the unknown
It’s difficult to teach in an environment where you don’t know the future of your classroom budget, the involvement of your student’s parents, or the outcome of all your hard work. On a more philosophical level, educators who teach the higher grades are tasked with teaching students principles that have a lot of unknowns (i.e. physics). How comfortable are you with not having all the answers? Good teachers are able to function without everything tied up neatly in a bow.
20. Successful teachers are not threatened by parent advocacy
Unfortunately, parents and teachers are sometimes threatened by one another. A teacher who is insecure will see parent advocacy as a threat. While there are plenty of over-involved helicopter parents waiting to point out a teacher’s mistakes, most parents just want what’s best for their child. Successful educators are confident in their abilities and not threatened when parents want to get into the classroom and make their opinions known. Good teachers also know they don’t have to follow what the parent recommends!
21. Successful teachers bring fun into the classroom
Don’t be too serious. Some days, “fun” should be the goal. When students feel and see your humanness, it builds a foundation of trust and respect. Fun and educational aren’t mutually exclusive either. Using humor can make even the most mundane topic more interesting.
22. Successful teachers teach holistically
Learning does not happen in a vacuum. Depression, anxiety, and mental stress have a severe impact on the educational process. It’s crucial that educators (and the educational model) take the whole person into account. You can have the funniest and most innovative lesson on algebra, but if your student has just been told his parents are getting a divorce, you will not reach him.
23. Successful teachers never stop learning
Good teachers find time in their schedule to learn themselves. Not only does it help bolster your knowledge in a certain subject matter, it also puts you in the position of student. This gives you a perspective about the learning process that you can easily forget when you’re always in teaching mode.
24. Successful teachers break out of the box
It may be a self-made box. “Oh I could never do that,” you say to yourself. Perhaps you promised you’d never become the teacher who would let students grade each other (maybe you had a bad experience as a kid). Sometimes the biggest obstacle to growth is us. Have you built a box around your teaching methods? Good teachers know when it’s time to break out of it.
25. Successful teachers are masters of their subject
Good teachers need to know their craft. In addition to the methodology of “teaching”, you need to master your subject area. Learn, learn, and never stop learning. Successful educators stay curious.
Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia is pushing a constitutional amendment to allow the state to take over low-scoring public schools. He calls it an “opportunity school district” and points to New Orleans and the Tennessee Achievement School Districts as models. He brought called together a group of African-American ministers and asked for their support.
Here is the response from one of the attendees, who knew that neither New Orleans or the Tennessee ASD had helped the neediest students. Governor Deal couldn’t answer his questions, because the ALEC model legislation doesn’t explain why cessation of democracy helps schools or what to do after privatizing the schools and giving them to corporations.
Here is the report by Rev. Chester Ellis:
Governor’s Ministers Summoning Meeting was a School Takeover Sales Pitch
By Rev. Chester Ellis 912-257-2394
Pastor of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia
Governor Nathan Deal is working hard to sell the voters on what he calls an Opportunity School District. But this is an opportunity that Georgia should not take.
Recently, The Governor made a pitch to twenty-nine African American ministers in the basement of the mansion. No media was present. But I was one of those ministers.
If Amendment One was about education and opportunity for our communities and children, we could at least hold a logical discussion about evidence-based solutions. As a retired educator and community activist, it is very clear to me that his Opportunity School District is not about education or the community. He has no plan or roadmap to improve schools.
Gov. Deal was looking for our support. He stated, “I need your help.” But we left with more questions than we had answers. It truly is a takeover, and one whose extent is clear to very few voters.
I was disappointed. I thought the Governor would be able to lay out his plan in detail to us. But, what I got from the Governor is he’s making it up as he goes. There’s really no plan. At best, it was guesswork.
Bishop Marvin L. Winans, who has a charter school in Detroit, was the first to speak to us. Brother Winans is a minister and an award winning Gospel singer. He does not live in Georgia. Marvin talked about why he had established his school in Detroit and why he thought it was a good idea that the Governor was willing to do something to help failing schools. But we didn’t have a chance to dialog with him, ask questions or shed light on anything here in Georgia for him. He left for a concert, almost as quickly as he appeared!
Afterwards, the Governor followed with a spiel about why he thought he needed to take over the schools and why the Black clergymen needed to be in support of Amendment 1, The Opportunity School District. He then opened the session up for questions.
I asked him, what is the student to teacher ratio per class of all the schools on your list for takeover? He said he did not have the answer to that question.
My rationale for asking that question was that research tells us ideal pupil to teacher ratio should be 18 to 1, and the further schools and classrooms go past that recommended ratio, the more they are setting students up for failure. Districts need resources to address that problem. The A plus Act of 2000 provided such resources. In fact, this Governor has taken more resources from our public schools. The governor added that he needed to do more research on that issue, so I invited him to do that and gave him some websites he could Google.
I also asked the Governor if all of the schools that are having trouble, as defined by him, are predominately African American schools. He replied, not so much, but that when they looked at schools that were failing they looked at schools that were in a cluster. And that the ministers summoned to the meeting were invited more for being in those identified clusters of schools.
One of my colleagues asked the Governor for the specifics of his Opportunity School District plan. Deal replied that he was using different models, and two of the models he mentioned were the Louisiana Recovery School District and the Tennessee Achievement School District models. Then the question was raised about both of those state’s backing away from the models because they failed to accomplish their achievement goals. In fact indicators prove that New Orleans is worse off now The Governor replied, “We are going to look at what they did wrong, and correct their mistakes so that ours will be right. You know, we have to do something, we are willing to try this and then if it doesn’t work, we are willing to work on what doesn’t work and straighten it out.” The problem with the Governor’s logic is that he is asking the voters to change the state’s constitution. We can’t back up if the voters do that!
The Governor says OSD is a “plan in the works”. . So I urged the Governor to use Massachusetts as a model rather than one from Tennessee or Louisiana, which have both failed.
According to a recent article in Education Week, scholars at the Atlanta-based Southern Education Foundation and Philadelphia-based Research in Action organization found that some states are proposing to mimic “opportunity school district” takeover models despite evidence that prototypes of these models have gone awry. The esteemed Education Week reports that imitating these models are not an appropriate prescription for providing support for schools that needs it.
Massachusetts put their plan in place with on the ground, in the classrooms education practitioners. . Legislators met with them and applied the educator’s advice and professional know how. They set out on a course working together and didn’t change the course until they got the results they were striving for. They are now one of the celebrated and better school systems in the country. I asked the Governor, why didn’t his planners and plans look at that type of successful model?
He replied, “It’s because of demographics.” I responded that clearly Massachusetts doesn’t look like Georgia but education isn’t rocket science …..It requires an understanding of what you are working with. I also referenced just one of many of our state’s successful public school model, Woodville Thompkins High School in Savannah. I’m a graduate of that school and I have worked since 2006 with that school and the community. As a result it is an award winning school in many disciplines.
For the last two years, Woodville-Tompkins Technical and Career High School has had a 100 percent Graduation rate. They have also been cited as being one of the top 30 programs worldwide in Robotics. There is a way to turn schools around and it doesn’t require a Constitutional Amendment. I don’t see the need. It takes a little elbow grease and total involvement from parents, community and legislators to sustain evidence based solutions and models that are already working.
I don’t buy the Governor’s program or plans. He’s selling the public on a quick fix. I think the Governor has some friends who see education as a carte blanche card; something they can make money off of. It’s about the money, not about the children. The legislation doesn’t even define what a failing school is. The Governor has spent little or no time educating the public on the thirteen pages that compose all of the little devils in his plan per Senate Bill 133. He is spending lots of time though, selling his plan.
The Governor is a lame duck, yet he’s asking citizens to trust him blindly and give him all the power over their schools, public property, pocketbooks and children by changing the constitution.
I thanked the Governor for inviting me, but I told him before I left that there are too many uncertainties and too many unanswered questions to go before my congregation and say we should support this. I’m not comfortable with the Governor’s answers or his solutions. His Opportunity School District has no facts and no plans to improve schools. This is an opportunity that citizens can’t afford to take. It is all about the money. It’s just that simple.
The young lady (Allyssa Banks) who was murdered recently at Largo the other day was one of Babygirl’s classmates and her teammate in the Team America Rocketry Challenge a few years ago. She was also the SGA President for her graduating class this past year. We covered her sad story here. Her family is soliciting assistance with her funeral arrangements. Anything will help….especially your prayers.
DISTRICT HEIGHTS, MD (WUSA9) – Some parents at one Prince George’s elementary school feel like they are in the dark about their child’s education.
Ajia and Robert Cooper have generally had a good experience at Concord Elementary School in District Heights but they have noticed a troubling trend.
Last year, their son’s second grade teacher left the classroom towards the end of the year and now their son’s third grade teacher has been gone for more than a month.
Ajia Cooper gives her son Elijah assignments at home because she’s convinced he’s not learning in school.
“Elijah is not getting any third grade curriculum,” she complained.
The couple said their son gets busy work like alphabetizing classmates’ names. In fact, they just started receiving classwork only after they started raising questions.
“He said when a specialist doesn’t come to class, they throw the homework away and no one ever checks it. Sometimes they’ve had recess for hours,” she said.
“I don’t think we’re doing what I’m supposed to learn in the third grade,” said Elijah.
We have learned both third grade teachers at Concord have been on administrative leave since September 19th .
A school spokesperson says they are investigating allegations made against the teachers.
“I feel like that should be told to the parents,” said Mr. Cooper. “Then we would know what’s going on. Maybe if we had more information about what’s going on behind the scenes we wouldn’t feel left out.”
A letter was sent home stating the teachers were simply on leave for personal reasons, but the Coopers missed that note because Elijah was absent that day. They said not only have kids left the class, they’ve left the school.
“If it’s not a good third grade program let’s find a solution,” said Mrs. Cooper.
A school spokesperson said there has been a permanent substitute in that classroom. It is against policy to replace a teacher who is on administrative leave who may return to class when he or she is cleared from the investigation.
UPPER MARLBORO – Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) has fielded numerous transportation complaints since the beginning of the year, but, with 10 percent of the school system’s drivers absent on any given day, PGCPS is struggling to get transportation running smoothly.
Reports of late busses, busses that never show up and of school children dropped off without parents present have popped up numerous times over the first few months of school, but PGCPS wants parents and residents to know they are working on the issues. However, it may take time to find permanent solutions.
The PGCPS transportation office gave a presentation at a Prince George’s County Board of Education work session last week, where the staffers updated the board on progress made with the office and the hardships it has faced in the first few months of the 2016-17 school year.
“We specifically requested, given a lot of what we heard, and we’ve had some work on transportation. So, since the board has gotten so many (complaints), and since many of us have heard from our constituents about transportation concerns, we wanted to do a follow-up,” Segun Eubanks, chair of the board of education, said.
PGCPS Chief Operating Officer Wesley Watts said the school system has dealt with a number of issues in regards to student transportation over the past several months.
“Our biggest issues, basically, (are) the late busses and busses that are not showing up, or they’re showing up so late people think that they’re not showing up,” Watts said.
One main contributor to late busses and missed stops is a combination of vacant positions and an alarming absentee rate. Lori Cater-Evans, the director of the transportation office, said PGCPS had 48 bus driver vacancies in August and although that number dropped to 11 vacancies at the end of September, Carter-Evans said there are still 31 drivers on extended leave.
The school system’s human resources department is working on filling those vacancies, though. Over the course of the past year, Carter-Evans said the school system has held a number of bus driver fairs and asked retired bus drivers to come back to the system.
However, filling all those positions takes time. Training can take anywhere from two to six weeks depending on how much experience a recruited person has. For someone who has driven a bus for a school system before and already has his or her license, all that is needed is a refresher course. But for those who walk into an interview without experience or a license, the process could take longer, especially if they need to get their license to drive a bus.
“We currently have 14 drivers in training and in our next class we have 18,” Carter-Evans said.
PGCPS transportation is also dealing with a 10 percent daily absentee rate, meaning on any given day approximately 10 percent of the bus fleet call in sick or have taken personal leave.
The school system currently has more than 1,070 bus routes to get students to and from school and approximately 1,097 drivers. With approximately 100 drivers missing on any given day and a short list of substitutes, the transportation office has to make quick decisions to be sure routes are covered.
According to data provided by the school system, over the past two months the number of drivers absent on a given day has topped 100. On Sept. 16, a Friday, 133 drivers were absent and Carter-Evans said she sees a trend of high absenteeism on Thursdays and Fridays.
“It is important to note that in the beginning of the school year, we do not have our non-public schools operating, not all of them. So the drivers who are assigned to transport our students with special needs to non-public schools were available to help provide service the first week of school,” Carter-Evans said. “So in addition to not as many, we don’t have the 97 drivers off on that first week.”
Watts and Carter-Evans said they are working on ways to improve retention of their drivers to avoid so many vacancies, but said they are also working on ways to incentivize good attendance – a suggestion made by multiple board of education members during the work session.
Carter-Evans said PGCPS is looking at a number of solutions to address other transportation issues as well and is considering hiring for a position directly in charge of hiring for transportation only.
Another large complaint lodged toward the transportation office is its perceived lack of communication. According to PGCPS data, the transportation office received nearly 11,000 phone calls in the first week of school. Of those only 2,000 were answered.
“That left us with 81 percent of our customers frustrated after waiting on the line,” Carter-Evans said.
The school does have a phone bank and temporary employees were hired to handle the large amount of calls in the first week, but PGCPS has had to ask those temporary workers to come back to help increase the number of answered calls and resolved issues.
PGCPS is also working on launching a text service to inform parents on where their child’s bus is at a given time, if there are any major delays and other transportation-related information.
Carter-Evan expects that service to be available by February 2017.
“We’re also investigating ways to push the transportation information to the student portal. Parents would get transportation information and related updates that apply specifically to their child and their child’s bus route,” Carter-Evans said. “So the communication will be in real time.”
Watts said he isn’t sure when that specific service will be available to parents, though. Putting transportation on the School Max site will be possible, thanks to an update in the transportation office’s data system. Still, it will require creating a new section of the web page.
“The portal has to be built. The portal does not have a transportation page. It will have to be built by staff,” Watts said.
Watts said PGCPS is still in the beginning phases of creating the new transportation portal and is currently looking at how much the programming and design would cost.
UPPER MARLBORO, MD. A school bus aide accused of molesting special education, pre-kindergarten children on a Prince George’s County school bus has been indicted, according to the Prince George’s County state’s attorney.
Michael Patopie 38, of Capitol Heights inappropriately touched two students while they were on a school bus in November 2015 and in May 2016, police said. He was indicted on multiple counts of child abuse, assault and sex offenses.
Prosecutors said Patopie was on a bus last November carrying children home from James Ryder Randall Elementary in Clinton. They said he molested two special-needs students, a four-year-old and a five-year-old.
A former Prince George’s County school bus driver and former President of ACE-AFSCME Local 2250 Ms. Shirley Adams (shown below) discovered the illegalities and reported the crimes to her bosses who failed to act and instead covered the issues. Months later, she anonymously reported the incident to Child Protective Services (CPS).
CPS then alerted the parents of one of the victims, a 4-year-old boy with special needs. The victim’s parents were told bus cameras caught the abuse and they were shown enough video to identify their son, but they had not seen the alleged abuse.
The parents said they were told the same thing happened to another child on the bus. According to charging documents, the second victim is 5 years old and reported the alleged abuse to his mother.
The children involved have verbal delays and trouble communicating.
The bus was carrying students from James Ryder Randall Elementary School in Clinton, Maryland. An unrelated investigation found students in the school’s Head Start program were forced to hold objects over their heads for a long time as punishment in June. The events in question occurred last year when Dr. Shawn Joseph, Dr. Monique Felder, and Dr. Sito Narcisse all held positions of leadership in PGCPS. Let’s be clear here, they engaged in nefarious behavior after they covered up the crimes. Dr. Shawn Joseph was cleared of any wrong doing, though it is a little disconcerting that he oversaw the department in charge of the Head Start program, and one of the emails that led to the dismissal of the PGCPS Chief of Staff is addressed to him.
Prince George’s County Police confirmed they are investigating the incident, which was reported to CPS May 24 and to police June 20. The boy reported more information to police in August, according to sources. The boy’s father said the incident happened in November.
PGCPS CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell said he didn’t find out until August, when school started.
Seven months ago, the community was horrified after learning a former teacher’s aide was reportedly sexually abusing students at another county school. The case is ongoing and investigations on other issues continues.
As we move unto the future, We need to further keep an eye on several developing issues connected to the events for two reasons. First, because as the investigation unfolds, it has been moving away from a single incident into being an indictment of the culture within PGCPS. If we are going to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars creating a new culture within PGCPS, We must argue that it is financially prudent to make a close examination of the culture that we are importing to ensure that we are, in fact, morphing into a healthier culture and not a soggy soggy culture which has no direction for the future. It’s time to demand answers on these issues.
Upper Marlboro: Prince George’s County police have identified the teenage girl killed in a double shooting in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
Allyssa Banks, 18, and an unidentified man were found shot in a car in the 10200 block of Prince Place at about 1:45 a.m. Wednesday.
Banks graduated from Largo High School this past May 2016, according to Prince George’s County Public Schools spokesperson Raven Hill. The principal of Largo High School confirmed Banks was president of the school’s Student Government Association during the previous school year.
Family and friends described Banks as quiet, but also sweet and kind.
“I think she ran for SGA president to let people know that you don’t have to be very loud and outgoing to take control and help out,” said Dyonna Nelson, a friend of Banks. “She just wanted to be a big help.”
Nelson added, “Whoever did it, they don’t know how much of a great person she was to have around and they don’t know how she affected many people’s lives in Largo and her family and just anywhere she went.”
According to Corporal Lamar Robinson, spokesman for the Prince George’s County Police Department, officers were called to investigate a report of a shooting near a condominium complex in the 10200 block of Prince Place near the intersection of Swiss Gap around 1:45 a.m.
Once on the scene, which is a little over a mile and a half from Prince George’s Community College, police found a man and a woman suffering from gunshot wounds to the upper body.
The man was transported with non-life-threatening injuries, however the female victim was taken to a nearby hospital where she was later pronounced dead.
“I heard four shots,” one neighbor told the press. “I heard lots of screaming. I was too scared to look out of the window.”
Banks was pronounced dead at the hospital, according to police. The man’s injuries are not life-threatening.
Right now police have no information to release on possible suspects or motive for the crime. Homicide investigators were on the scene and appeared to be focusing their attention on a red sedan parked in the area.
There are unconfirmed reports the two victims were found in the vehicle, along with a pet that was not injured.
Police say Banks and the other victim knew one another; the relationship between the two was not released.
Investigators are still working to figure out what led to the shooting. Anyone with information that can help police is asked to call 1-866-411-TIPS or call 301-772-4925. Callers can remain anonymous and there may be a cash reward.