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What distinguishes teachers from heroic teachers?

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Jan 23, 2014 3:29:00 PM

heroic teachersAfter two years and hundreds of hours of interviews with teachers from public and charter schools across the nation, Katrina Fried distilled her conclusions about what she calls “heroic” teachers in a book called American Teacher: Heroes in the Classroom.

Her conclusion: Heroic teachers—that is, teachers whose students exhibit high test scores, high graduation rates, and high levels of engagement—are diverse in their teaching styles, yet they also share a common set of beliefs that other teachers don’t.

Below you’ll find five of the twelve distinguishing features of heroic teachers Fried describes in her book. If you would like to read the other seven, blogger Dana Truby has posted them here.

What distinguishes teachers from heroic teachers?

Heroic teachers follow one major rule—but they also know when to break it
Heroic teachers consistently follow one major rule: Be prepared. Yet heroic teachers are also flexible and willing to modify or even scrap plans and start from scratch. As Fried puts it, “Great teachers are human barometers—attuned to the shifting moods of their students and amorphous qualities of their surroundings.” Because of this, heroic teachers know when to throw out the rule book and follow their instinct.

Heroic teachers place essential human needs at the forefront of everything they do
Great teachers know that taking the time to foster a classroom culture that’s built on mutual respect and tolerance sets the stage for authentic learning.

Creating a vibrant classroom culture means that there must be, as one of Fried’s interviewees puts it, a “synergy in the room…a familial atmosphere” that places essential human needs at the forefront of everything students and teachers do. 

Heroic teachers bring their passions into the classroom
Your passion for rock and roll, Shakespeare and post-modern art may not be a part of your curriculum, but heroic teachers find creative ways to bring their passions into the classroom, regardless of what they are.

Why? Because they know that teaching what they love has the power to influence the culture of a school. Take Daryl Bilandzija, one of the teachers Fried interviewed for her book: His commitment to environmental stewardship moved him to turn a half-acre of his school’s campus into an Edible Learning Garden, which has transformed the identity of Odyssey Charter School in Altadena, California, and “put it on the map.”

Heroic teachers never teach to the test
Teachers’ assessments may be directly tied to their students’ performance on state-issued exams, yet there is not an educator among the fifty profiled in Fried’s book who approaches his or her curriculum with the primary end goal of achieving high scores.

Heroic teachers know they can’t do it alone
The vast majority of classroom heroes profiled in Fried’s book know that mentorship and collaboration are integral parts of becoming the best teachers they can be. As one of Fried’s interviewees puts it, “Success does not occur in isolation.”

Teachers often make the mistake of thinking that they have to do it all on their own, but heroic teachers know—and are not too proud—to tap into the expertise of their colleagues and mentors.  

You may not know this, but Marygrove's MAT program offers a course dedicated solely to the topic of Teacher as Everyday Hero. To learn more about our program offerings, click here. 

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Tags: careers in education, highly effective people, effective teacher, heroic teachers, Classroom Climate

5 qualities of an effective teacher—according to those who hired them

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Feb 16, 2013 6:00:00 AM

Effective TeacherIt’s only February, but we’ve got springtime on the brain—and so does an army of portfolio-toting teachers who are looking for new opportunities and “teacherless” classrooms. If you’re wondering what to expect during your interview or what qualities principals are looking for in an effective teacher, you’re in luck: We’ve boiled down five qualities that real-life principals listed as their "must-haves" when hiring effective teachers at all levels.

5 qualities of an effective teacher—according to those who hired them

  1. Passion. Surprised? Probably not. "Passion" or "enthusiasm" is repeated over and over by those who understand what it takes to really be successful in this profession. Depending on where you teach, and what level/subject is your forte, you might come in contact with hundreds of students a day and thousands over the course of a career. You can’t fake passion—and if you don’t have passion for your students and your subject matter, you’re going to have a tough time convincing administrators that you have what it takes to be an effective teacher.

  2. Je ne sais quoi. Teachers have to possess that "special something”—or as the French say, "I don't know what." We all know it when we meet people who have it. It's a little extra heart spark that burns inside them and draws people to them. That "special something" helps teachers relate with a diverse student population at a non-verbal level and lets students know they are valued, understood, and seen as individuals with their own unique needs. Teachers who have that je ne se quoi are beloved by their students, regardless of whether or not their students love the subject matter.

  3. A Plan. There is a good chance your interview will include a question like, "So, describe what we'll encounter when we walk in during the middle of a class period?" or "What is your classroom management plan?" The answer to these questions indicates whether a teacher is organized, has time management skills, has experience and/or is intuitive to the needs of the students. The most effective teachers know that plans change at a moment’s notice, but still—an overarching purpose is always better than a foundation shaped like a big question mark.

  4. Loves to learn. The best students have an innate curiosity that can't be squelched. Likewise, the most effective teachers share this trait. An effective teacher never stops learning. Whether it’s the simple things, like what works and what doesn't, or the hard things, like what the heck is quantum physics all about anyway? Teachers who are excited about learning will have a much better time inspiring the same excitement in their students. Plus, administration can rest assured the teacher will keep abreast of the rapidly changing technological realm.

  5. A sense of humor. If you don't have a good sense of humor, we wish you the best of luck and hope you can find one. There are hard days ahead; if you don’t learn to laugh at the struggles and yourself, it isn’t going to take long for you to burn out.  Miserable teachers are never effective—they’re also the easiest targets for “challenging” students.   

There are very few careers that allow us the opportunity to touch lives on a daily basis. Teaching is definitely one of them. So make sure your "Teaching Bag o' Tricks" is loaded with the five qualities listed above and you will have a great shot at becoming an effective teacher.


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Tags: careers in education, developing teachers, effective teacher

Hot job in education: The Curriculum Specialist.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Sep 5, 2012 5:34:00 AM

The Curriculum Specialist is a hot job in education.A curriculum specialist is a teacher leader who is committed to the creation and alignment of curriculum and high quality professional development. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that curriculum specialists will experience a higher than average growth rate through 2020. This projected growth is a positive indication of the importance that school districts are placing on the position of curriculum specialist. 

A professional seeking one of the thousands of curriculum specialist jobs across the country can expect to perform many duties including:

Organizes, develops, and coordinates curriculum design. Although school districts primarily adopt published curriculum there is also the need for development of additional curricula. This might be designed to supplement the adopted curriculum or to supplant portions that don't align with the standards. The development of curriculum should be thoughtful and deliberate and involve classroom teachers.

Plans and leads professional development. Those that perform curriculum specialist jobs will lead a variety of professional development opportunities. These sessions may cover curriculum design and implementation, instructional strategies, and assessment methods. The professional development should be made available in a variety of settings such as an entire staff, grade levels, or one-on-one with individual teachers.

Leads teachers in standards based analysis of adopted and created curriculum. Any published curriculum should be carefully analyzed for its alignment with instructional and achievement standards. If there are portions that don't align with the standards, the curriculum specialist can facilitate the creation of supplementary curricula.

Collaborates with teachers to adapt curriculum. Teachers are expected to meet the needs of a variety of learners and should be able to use the adopted curriculum with all students. A curriculum specialist can work with teachers to modify and adapt the curriculum to extend the curriculum for students needing additional challenges and to differentiate for learners who need additional support.

Analyzes assessment data. The curriculum specialist should work with a team of administrators and teachers to analyze classroom and school-wide data to determine effectiveness of curriculum and instruction. There is a correlation between achievement, instruction, and curriculum. The team of administrators, teachers, and the curriculum specialist should work together to disaggregate the data and determine areas for growth.

The Marygrove College Master in the Art of Teaching Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment (CIA) program will help to prepare you well for a curriculum specialist position.  The CIA coursework is designed to encompass all of the critical thinking, leadership skills, and knowledge required to qualify.  If you would like more information, contact an enrollment specialist at (855) 628-6279, today!


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Tags: curriculum specialist, curriculum design, careers in education, hot jobs, Marygrove Master in the Art of Teaching

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