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What Does Every Teacher Need to Be Successful?

Peek in my door at any time and here's a snapshot of what you'll see:

Students spread out, grouped appropriately for whatever activity we are working on. They will likely be talking or moving around, using technology and taking risks.

Regardless of the class, I am teaching, students are empowered to take control of their learning through choice of content and what kind of products they'd like to create.

All learners are creators and curators of information. We are equal in the circle, sharing ideas and generating possibilities all the time.

My classrooms weren't always like this. My ego used to force me into a place of power (even though that isn't what I thought I was doing).

What changed?

Check this out... My top 10 elements that must be in place for success

  1. A clear definition of what success is and what it looks like. Decide what success is and have a conversation with your students. Determine the criteria and keep it transparent. For me it is mastery and the continued attempt to reach it. So progress toward mastery also determines success.

  2. Flexibility. My way isn't the only way and I try to remain open to other possibilities that may work better for individual students. All projects have a free choice option if kids want to adjust their projects to better suit their own needs.

  3. Accessibility. Being available to my students for conferencing, questions or listening is essential to their success and my success by proxy.

  4. Growth Mindset. I must always be open to growth and change. Just because something is working now, doesn't mean it will always work. Keeping an open mind is essential to growth.

  5. Risk-taking. If I want to grow, I have to be unafraid to take risks. Being safe isn't going to make me great, having new ideas and trying them out is. If I want to stretch myself, I have to go beyond what I know I do well already. 

  6. Failure fearlessness. Hand in hand with risk-taking is not being afraid to fail. I try to use failure as an opportunity to grow, showing and modeling to students the power of mistakes. I choose to fail forward. Being wrong doesn't have to be a bad thing. It may be uncomfortable and even embarrassing, but humility in this place serves better than defensiveness. 

  7. Great relationships with students. I take the time to know my kids, not just as learners, but as people too. My job isn't just to make sure they understand what characterization is but more importantly help them understand what kind of character traits they want to exhibit.

  8. Transparency. Everything I do in my classroom is transparently laid out. Kids are always involved in the process so they understand WHY we do things, how what they are learning applies to their lives. There is real relevancy in what we are doing so they can value what w do. Hiding nothing from the students shows them that I am organized and thoughtful and intentional. They can ask me anything with the expectation of getting an answer.

  9. Authenticity. I am who I am. Very imperfect, but caring. I model the way I'd like to be treated by showing respect and always being true to who I am while staying invested in who my students are becoming. With this comes consistency and congruency.

  10. Creativity. Big ideas come with thinking outside of the box (even if that's cliche.) If things can be done the standard way or a different way, I'll be the one doing it differently 9 times out of 10 and with a smile. This uniqueness has come from an intense connection with creativity and a want for greater innovation. Technology is a great companion to creativity and makes learning limitless.

So today I have a challenge for you... think about it, brainstorm and create a top 10 list of your own and write your own post about success. Please share your number one tip for success here! Looking forward to reading what you have to say.

*This post originally ran on my Education Week Blog in February 2015

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