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Teaching with Novels

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Resources

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Meet Sra. Wienhold

What Great Teachers Do Differently

Today our school had the great privilege of hosting educational author and speaker Todd Whitaker. This post was original going to be a book review for, What Great Teachers Do Differently, but now that he has presented, it will be a combination of what I learned from him in person, and from the book. If you would like to find more about him, check out his website and join his 63,000+ follower on Twitter @ToddWhitaker. 




First of all, it was pretty neat that as a tiny school that plays 8 man football with graduating classes around 35, there were over 350 teachers from across Iowa in our gym today. As the hosts we were front row, meaning we heard personal stories from Todd and got our books signed like fan girls. If you ever get a chance to hear him speak in person I would highly recommend it, since this was the best school wide PD I have ever been a part of. You can find his handout here and check out #wgtddunk on Twitter to see what stuck with us. 


front row perks include chatting with the speaker while he eats his bagel for breakfast

In the book What Great Teachers Do Differently, 17 items that matter most for effective teachers are addressed. If you would like to see them all in detail, you should read the book! I have so many takeaways, so I will just address a few key concepts that I would like to implement moving forward this year and beyond. 


  • No one gets a degree in education to become and average teacher. Be Great.
  • Be the kind of teacher you would want to send your own children toFor these students this is the first time around.
  • Care & Try. Make it cool to care. 
  • It is people, not programs. The quality of the teachers determines our perception of the quality of the school. It is never about programs. Acronyms will come and go, but great teachers will carry a school forward for years to come. Great teachers do their jobs and do them well. They adapt to change without loosing sight of what really matters.
  • The most valuable gift a leader can give others is confidence. 
  • Greet your students every time you see them, every single day. This might be the time that matters. 
  • Treat every student as if they are good. 
  • If you expect respect, you must give it 10/10 days to every student. 
  • If you want better answers, ask better questions. Look in the mirror if you do not get the result you had hoped for. Stop the blame game. 
  • In a great teacher's classroom nothing a random. It can seem random to students, but everything is planned. 
  • Raise the Praise, minimize the criticize. Start Positive referrals, that are sent to administrators, who then call parents with the good news. You can NEVER praise enough, but for this praise to be effective it must be:
    • Authentic
    • Specific
    • Immediate
    • Clean (no negatives attached)
    • Private
Overall, I loved the positive approach to teaching and running an effective classroom. One of the biggest struggles for many teachers, especially those who are new is classroom management. I loved Todd's reference that it is all about having "class." The only variable we can control is ourselves, in how we plan and how we react to situations. The key word was to Ignore (but to be confused with avoid) undesirable behaviors. Students are looking carefully to how we handle any disruptions. The key is to "shift the monkey," so we are not holding the burden, but rather the students are. Approach negative people by "sidling up" next to them, which gets rid of the false barrier of a line in the sand such as a table or desk. 

The blank envelope
One example of behavior management was after a student acts out, hand them a blank sealed envelope with paper inside that must be delivered to another teacher. As they return, catch them privately in the hallway to talk. This gives both the student and teacher time to cool off and think, and gets rid of any audience to address the situation. 


Remember, as a teacher, you do important work. It is not the hours that we put in that wear us down, but rather the intensity of our job. We put our hearts and souls into our students and teaching day after day, but it is exactly this EFFORT that makes a Great teacher. We have a choice when we walk in the school each day if we are going to hide behind our desk, or if we are going to enthusiastically greet every person we see. What choice will you make?

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