This post originally appeared on November 4, 2015.  

There is something about watching a great teacher that just, well, fills us up. We know we are witnessing something terrific and while we can usually articulate the highlights (he really knows his students, her pacing is spot on, did you SEE how flawlessly he changed his approach when the kids looked confused?) we aren’t always able to string together ALL the specific, nitty-gritty details that made it so satisfyingly terrific.

We could though. We could string them together. In fact, plenty (if not all) of them are laid out in Indistar's indicators of effective practice (instructional domain). But that’s the trick: it’s not just one or two of those effective practices that great teachers do; it’s all of them, together, enmeshed. They work more like an orchestra and less like a batting order.

For the next several posts, we’re going to take a quick, close-up look at Nine Habits (aka behaviors) that great teachers do ALL of the time (together, enmeshed) and discuss some ways that Leadership Teams can support them:

  1. Learn from other people (colleagues, students, parents, student teachers)
  2. Assess, assess, assess (in other words, frequently)
  3. Assess, assess, assess and in a variety of ways
  4. Have high expectations for every single student
  5. Change up instructional modes
  6. Take interest in their students’ interests
  7. Provide opportunities for students to practice new learning
  8. Connect new learning to old learning (well hello there, scaffold)
  9. Connect learning to life(think applicability)

 We will feature one behavior each week, which leads us to our first:

 Great teachers Learn From Other People.

 Who doesn’t love a great TED talk…or an awesome video of an indicator IN ACTION (we happen to LOVE those).

They are great for sure, but don’t overlook one of the best resources at your immediate disposal: your school community—we’re talking fellow teachers, students, student teachers, and parents too.

Since we love what if questions in my house at the moment, I’m going to pose some here:

  • What if you had a free period (I know, few and far between) and asked a fellow teacher if you could sit in and learn from them?
  • What if you had a smart phone and could use it to record a lesson and ask for feedback from your colleagues (even instructional team members)?
  • What if you could make that a regular thing with your instructional team?
  • What if you had a way to share articles and books and ideas that you found with colleagues and friends?
  • What if one of your students had a knack for an upcoming topic and you picked her brain for some ways to present the information to the class, or even figured out a way to co-teach it?

Now, what could (or what does) your Leadership Team do to make these What If’s a lot easier for teachers to turn into We do’s? Leave your replies in the comments section below.

Additional Resources:

Indicators in Action, Instruction Course (with tools + guides)

Learning Among Teachers

Create a free, private group for your Leadership Team, your Instructional Teams, your teaching staff with all of the features offered on IndistarConnect (blogs, discussion forums, etc.). Email Maureen Mirabito, Mark Williams, or Larry Kugler for more information and to get started.

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