Colleagues & Friends,

What makes a great teacher? Clearly a teacher is part salesperson, a little drill sergeant, an actor, exhibits a great sense of humor, and so much more – oh, and – they need to know their content area too. Teaching is one of the most complicated jobs today. It demands broad knowledge of subject matter, the district curriculum, and maybe Common Core Standards. They must understand PARCC testing or semi-PARCC testing, have enthusiasm even on a bad day, be a caring person every day, love learning themselves, and have an overwhelming desire to make a difference in the lives of young people. With all these qualities required, it’s no wonder that it’s so easy to find great teachers.

But for today’s Message to be of any help to you, I need to list a more useful list of what you expect in a great teacher…that is over and above those already mentioned. Below are some characteristics of great teachers that are pretty much generally accepted:

·        Great teachers set high expectations for all students. They expect that all students can and will achieve in their classroom.

·        Great teachers have clear, written-out daily objectives. Effective teachers have lesson plans that give a clear idea of what they will be teaching and what the necessary assignments

·        Helping students clearly know the grading policy is, what assignments are expected, and give students ample opportunity to practice new skills. The teacher is consistent in grading and returns work in a timely manner.

·        Great teachers are prepared and organized. They are in their classrooms early and ready to teach. They present lessons in a clear and structured way. Their classrooms are organized in such a way as to minimize distractions.

·        Great teachers engage students and get them to look at issues in a variety of ways. Effective teachers use facts as a starting point, not an end point; they ask “why” and “how” questions and encourage students to predict what will happen next. They ask questions frequently to make sure students are following along. They keep students motivated with varied, lively approaches.

·        Great teachers form strong relationships with their students and show that they care about them as people. Great teachers are warm, accessible, enthusiastic and caring. They often stay after school and make themselves available to students and parents who need them.

·        Great teachers are masters of their subject matter. They exhibit extraordinary expertise in the subjects they are teaching and spend time continuing to gain new knowledge in their field. They present material in an enthusiastic manner and instill a hunger in their students to learn more on their own.

·        Great teachers communicate frequently with parents. They reach parents through conferences and frequent written reports home and they don’t hesitate to pick up the telephone to call a parent if they are concerned about a student.

Pretty daunting list and I’ve just hit a few of the high points. How does your staff measure up? We know that lists are not causal (having them all does not make you a great teacher). If we could reduce what great teachers, great principals or great schools to lists our jobs would be infinitely easier. It’s not that easy. Personality, likeability, and so many intangibles factor into the final judgment, but it is a place to start.                                                                                           

Now, for the list for principals.
Be Well, Do Good Work, & Keep In Touch,

SLC Congratulates our colleague and former Fellows Director John Brown for being selected to fill the empty seat on the Orleans Parish School Board last Friday. With his vast experience – we know he’ll be a welcomed asset.


Great Teachers