10 Things that Teachers should do.

A member of my PLN recently posted a link that gave a brief summary of the “Ten Things Teachers Should Unlearn“. Looking it over I agreed with many of the points, however disagreed with one in particular. Well I didn’t so much as disagree with it as I did with the wording of the point. Someone suggested that I write my own list, however upon reflection I thought why not make a list-  of what teachers should be doing, in opposite of the Unlearn List.

The list states 10 points which means, that I will try and have ten points, but best of all the post had a video of the coolest teacher in world, well not of this world. However, the clip ended short of the his most famous teaching, which I have posted at the end of  my list. Here is the full clip though.

10 Things teachers should do:

1. Teachers should be ready and willing to accept that they don’t know all the answers.

However, remember this is a good thing, most of all it makes you real. It shows students and others that you are comfortable stating that you don’t know everything. As well the journey to finding the answer brings teacher and student together during a common goal – learning.

2. Teachers should have an understanding with students of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors within a classroom.

You must however be aware and prepared to point out rules and if necessary give out consequences. Keep in mind that it is the behavior that is unacceptable not the student, which means you will have to reflect after an incident as to what the precursor’s were.

3. Teachers should be prepared to interpret the curriculum and facilitate learning.

To me this means that as a teacher I bring to the classroom, what key concepts and transitions should take place within a year. That I should also have a starting and ending point in mind, but that the journey should not be controlled or regulated by myself alone. That students, other teachers, and other resources like online and social media can all play a role in a students education.

4. Respect is a reciprocated entity. You have to give it to earn it.

The title of teacher has changed in meaning and in importance over the years. Where once no one spoke in a classroom unless they were given permission, there are now classroom where open discussion is the format of teaching. A teacher inherits only some respect by title, the rest will have to be earned by building trust, building relationships and other key elements like honesty.

5. Describe a students abilities and areas of need using words not using letters and numbers.

It is too easy to grade all year, mark assignments and then translate that into a percentage or letter grade. One should report how a well a student is able to meet the curricular requirements of their age group or learning level. This is more than saying a student is approaching standards or not. The more time and detail put into a report the more clarity is provided.

6. Teachers need to assess a student based on what they have learned and how they have learned it.

Although there is a huge push in many areas regarding standardized testing. Most standardized test that are group administered are only  check reading ability and the ability to recall information, and regretfully some individuals use the results to sort students. In my opinion you can only assess a student on information that is covered or has been covered. As a teacher one should never teach to the test, it is an injustice.

7. Teachers should create an interactive and engaging learning environment that uses many methods of learning.

The old concept of teaching students, in neatly organized rows, in a stringent time line is leaving, if not gone. Students, like teachers need to be able to communicate to learn from each other through conversation. A classroom that regularly is so quiet that you can hear a pin drop teaches only one thing, the ability to sleep with ones eyes open.

8. Teachers should use many methods of teaching to increase learning, especially technology.

Technology and the use of technology is the current direction of both education and society. With this in mind, where else should students be learning to use it, work with it and essentially play with it. Personally, without it I wouldn’t have made all the connections I have in my PLN so why would I deny this experience to my students.

9. Teachers need to use many methods to support learning.

I am not saying that worksheets are archaic, but I am saying that you can not solely rely on worksheets and practice to support learning. You have to think about projects, activities, games, and other methods that will support learning but excite students about learning. When it doesn’t seem like work it is more interesting.

10. Teachers need to assign more than homework to ensure learning.

On a daily basis, I can easily say that I rarely assign homework. Home work to me was something that I did not enjoy as a student and rarely put a lot of effort into. I will ask students to work on a project or to read something, but if the student was unable to grasp the concept in class, why would I assume they would grasp it at home. Use sparingly.

There are a multitude of other suggestions that are swimming in my mind as to the advice that I would give, however I will keep my post similar to the one that I read. When I graduated from university and enter my first teaching position the elements that teachers should Unlearn were regretfully some of the things I believed, but in my defense, I had just graduated and most of my understanding of teaching came from a text. Experience, combined with watching and talking with experienced teachers has changed many of those old ideas, but like my students I am still learning and still excited about learning.  Most importantly I have learned don’t just try to implement something, or try to change something.  Do it, if it fails change it or do something new.

Do or Do Not, there is no Try


19 thoughts on “10 Things that Teachers should do.

  1. Thanks for responding to my post.
    I have written several lists of ways teachers can best facilitate learning (and other non- list posts too) I confess this particular post was only written in ‘unlearn’ form because that’s what the video clip inspired!
    I like your list 🙂 although I don’t entirely agree with all your points. I’d like to suggest for #2 (just for example!) that rather than having teacher imposed rules, teachers and students should discuss what helps and hinders learning and create an agreement of classroom behaviors that support the learning. I have found it so much easier then to refer to the agreement when they aren’t sticking to it and remind them that this is what THEY agreed to rather than enforcing rules that I imposed. What do you think?

    • Thank you very much for responding to the post, it is great to have the person who inspired the post commenting on it. In regards to comment 2, I fully agree with you. It is always better to spend a portion of the first few days sitting with students and discussing what students expect and what I expect. I also believe that if the students are involved in the creation of expectations, criteria and some of the consequences that they are more invested in the process and in the expectations.

      This all stated in my current environment there are some rules and expectations that are not up for discussion as they are required by individuals with a greater responsibility than mine. Such rules are no fighting or attacking peers with scissors. You know those rules that are normally understood but my most students, but need to be listed and talked about with my students.

      Thanks again for commenting.

  2. Great post! You have to love a post that has Yoda! You have a great list of things teachers should do! I think you hit key points that all teachers need to think about! We can’t keep teaching the same way we were taught and that is very hard for some teachers! The last line of your post is awesome;) Do, we must!

    • Thank you for your comment, I do have to give some credit to @whatedsaid it was her post that gave me the original idea. I know that there are many famous people that are quoted in education, however I believe that our Jedi Master is often forgotten. He does have some great sayings doesn’t he.
      Thanks again and yes it is time that we all stop talking and – DO

  3. Shawn –
    I love the idea of creating a list as a post, something that I will try in the future for my own blog. #5 is the point that is most relevant to me this year. As a writing teacher, I find it difficult to grade a piece of writing, especially creative writing, with a letter or percent. Students find little value beyond the implications of how it relates to their GPA. Plus, most teachers grade at the end of an assignment, which promotes little reflection or revision on the part of the student. The past couple of years I have focused on response in the writing classroom and have had positive results. I have also adopted a portfolio grading system that allows for reflection, demonstration, and revisions. Students find much more value in a written response rather than a grade – I agree with your thoughts wholeheartedly!
    Look forward to future posts!

    • Thanks Shaelynn, the post took some time, but was fun to write. I also found point % the hardest when I was first required to report in that manner, but have found that even though it is a lengthy process that it is well worth the time and effort.
      I have be contacted by many teachers who have transitioned some of my students and said they called not to ask questions in relation to the students ability or areas of need, but to say “Thank You”. That the reporting highlighted most everything that was needed to properly place and prepare for the student.
      I have marked Alberta’s grade nine achievement exams and although I understood the process and the criteria, I have to agree with you, how do you explain a mark of 1-5 which means unsatisfactory to above standard.
      We are moving to the student portfolios next year and am a little hesitant, but am sure that it will suit my needs and reporting. Thanks again for the comment, it is greatly appreciated.

  4. I always prefer “do” lists to “don’t do.” 🙂

    #4 is something we talk about every year in our classroom. I teach music, and I work with K-5. Even my kindergartners understand when I ask them if I should give THEM respect. They love it that an adult wants to respect them!! The older students really click with the fact that they have to give respect in order to earn it.

    Thanks for all the wonderful reminders!

    • Thanks for the comment. I have to agree that #4 is important and one that needs to be internalized and maybe even told to new teachers. I was required to learn very quickly that respect is something that is earned. I felt like Erin Gruwell from freedom writers. I was teaching Grades 10-12 in a residential treatment setting for kids with issues that were not educational. Although it was a lot of work, what I learned was that the emphasis on relationship is one of the pillars in a effective and functional classroom.
      Glad you like the post and appreciate the comment. Thank you

  5. Loved this post. I think if we truly what to bring about change in our teachers they would be more likely to accept the points from a positive point of view rather than hearing don’t do this and this. As the saying goes you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
    Thanks for sharing

    • Thank you for your comment, and you are absolutely correct. That is why I created the list in a positive format. I loved your quote, and agree with that. We are all more open to suggestions in the positive rather than confinements in the negative.

      Same goes for students and kids right. Tell them not to do something and your opening the door to them trying. Change the wording and you get what everybody needs.
      Thanks again for the comment.

  6. Kay and I have similar classrooms, and we both teach K-5 music. Respect is the only rule posted in my school’s music classroom, and we sing songs about it all the time. My students particularly like Aretha’s R-E-S-P-E-C-T (I change the lyrics a little bit, though).

    Sometimes I worry that we spend too much time at the beginning of the year reviewing acceptable and unacceptable behaviors, but in the end, I’m always glad that we do. Our classroom is one without surprises when it comes to expectations.

    I also really like your numbers 5 and 6. One of my colleagues was surprised that I would take the time to write a comment for all 440 of my students on their report cards. I was surprised that someone WOULDN’T. The ‘grades’ I’m required to give don’t explain what students have learned. As a parent, I’d want to know!

    Great post!!!

  7. Thank you so much for the compliment and for commenting. Also thanks to both you and Kay for responding.
    I understand where you are coming from. I have had many, other teachers ask why I spend so much time during the beginning of the year and after long breaks going over and emphasizing the expectations with the classroom and school. However, I think it becomes very clear to them when my Severe Special Needs classroom, has less behavioral and academic disturbances than others.
    I believe that it also makes it much easier for teachers that are going to cover my classroom or substitutes, when they don’t have to worry about or go over expectations. The students know them, are partially involved in their creation process and understand them.
    Thank you again for taking the time to comment, I really appreciate it.

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