Three More Traits Shared by Great Teachers

This is the second post in a series of three regarding traits shared by successful teachers.  If you missed the first one, it’s located here.

Trait 3: They’re Lifelong Learners

To Scott Sowell, the seventh and eighth grade science teacher at Darnell Cookman Middle/High School and a 2012 Florida Blue Duval County Teacher of the Year, this quality is “absolutely key.”

“As teachers, we know through research that unless were shaken out of it, nine times out of 10 we teach how we were taught.  And it the way you were taught is really wonderful for you, that’s the method with which you approach your own teaching,” Sowell said.

“But not every student is like you.  It may not be good for all of my students.  So you have to learn new ways through mentoring and teacher induction programs and college of education and field experiences.  And, those new ways are more difficult to learn.

Trait 4:  They Go the Extra Mile and Then Some

Brooke Cobbin is an intermediate instruction coach at North Shore Elementary School.  Meeting basic needs helps students put their education in focus.

“I had a student who was very disengaged in the morning,” Cobbin said.  “Each morning, we had a little meeting where we’d share what was going on.  He didn’t want to participate.  So I tried to figure out what was going on.

“I came to find out he was experiencing some things at home that had him living with other family members.  He wasn’t living with his mom.  And no one wants to live without mom.  So he was coming to school late every day and missing breakfast.  Well, I started keeping snacks and things in my cabinet to give him.  Every morning, he would come in late.  And I’d let him go to his private little area and eat a granola bar for breakfast.”

“We all do it.  As a teacher, your a mom and you’re a caretaker.  It’s what you have to do.”

Trait 5: They Know Each Student Personally

Regan Ashker, a devoted reading teacher and Andrew Jackson High School Teacher of the Year, says learning begins with establishing trust and comfort.

“We have open strong relationships,” Ashker said.  “I think my students feel very comfortable in my classroom.  They know that my room is a safe place; they can come in when they need to.

“I’m not just a teacher.  I’m a counselor and a social worker sometimes.  But it seems like if that’s what they need, that’s what you have to give them.  Obviously, I’m working on academics, but we cannot improve students academics until we address what they need socially and emotionally.”

Coming Tuesday: The Final Four Traits Shared by Great Teachers