MAT Blog

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. 

Get Your Free Classroom Management Guide

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

Student Leadership and the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Jan 15, 2014 9:19:00 AM

student leadershipWe recently came across an article featuring Muriel Summers, an elementary principal who is perhaps best known for the Leadership Model Program she used to transform A.B Combs Elementary from a struggling school into the number one magnet school in the country.

You can read more about the Leadership Model she used by clicking here, but we’d like to share seven of the basic tenants of the program below. We have a feeling that both students and teachers could benefit from reading them.

Student Leadership and the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Habit 1: Be proactive
I am a responsible person. I take initiative. I choose my actions, attitudes and moods. I do not blame others for my wrong actions. I do the right thing without being asked, even when no one is looking.

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
I plan ahead and set goals. I do things that have meaning and make a difference. I am an important part of my classroom and contribute to my school’s mission and vision.

Habit 3: Put First Things First
I spend my time on things that are most important. This means I say no to things I know I should not do. I set priorities, make a schedule, and achieve my goals. I am disciplined and organized.

Habit 4:
I balance courage for getting what I want with consideration for what others want. I make deposits in others’ Emotional Bank Accounts. When conflicts arise, I look for third alternatives. I look for ways to be a good citizen.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand
I listen to other people’s ideas and feelings. I try to see things from their viewpoints. I listen to others without interrupting. I am confident in voicing my ideas. I look people in the eyes when talking.

Habit 6: Synergize
I value other people’s strengths and learn from them. I work well in groups, even with people who are different than me. I seek out other people’s ideas to solve problems because I know that by teaming with others we can create better solutions than can anyone of us alone. I am humble.

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
I take care of my body by eating right, exercising, and getting sleep. I spend time with family and friends. I learn in lots of ways and lots of places, not just at school. I take time to find meaningful ways to help others.

If some of Summers’ tenants sound familiar, it may be because they are based off of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, a professional development series made popular by best-selling author, Stephen Covey.  

 

service learning guide

Tags: student recognition, student leadership, highly effective people, student independence, student engagement

Subscribe to the Marygrove MAT Blog!

Comments on this Blog Post