Never Work Harder Than Your Students and Other Principles of Great Teaching


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The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.

Even if you were a good student in school, it does not mean that you will be a good teacher. The tasks you were asked to do in school are fundamentally different from the day-to-day tasks you are asked to do as a teacher. In fact, most teachers will tell you that although their education courses and their student teaching gave them a good theoretical background, what they really learned about teaching, they learned on the job.

But teaching for many years is not enough to make you a master teacher either. There are some teachers who have been teaching for more than 20 years and still think and behave like novices; other teachers have become master teachers after only a few years of experience.

And, the sad truth is 1 Never Work Harder Pages. Experience alone does not make you a master teacher any more than practicing scales twice a day makes you a concert pianist. Mastery teaching is not about the time you put in. This book will help you get that kind of practice.

And the more you practice the principles of this book, the more you will begin to think and act like a master teacher. I call this process developing a master teacher mindset. What Is the Master Teacher Mindset? The master teacher mindset is really a disposition toward teaching. Many of us think that in order to be a good teacher, we need to have all the answers.

We focus our time and energy accumulating strategies and skills, hoping that if we have a big enough bag of tricks, we will be prepared to face whatever happens in the classroom. The master teacher mindset also means knowing how to ask students the right questions, the kind of questions that lead to deeper thinking, increased motivation, and more student ownership over their own work. They examine the problem from all sides.

The master teacher mindset means being willing to own your own contribution to the problem but at the same time, being reluctant to cast blame on others because you know that casting blame is not nearly as useful as looking for causes. Master teachers are willing to confront the brutal facts of their reality and account for those facts when developing a solution. The master teacher mindset means not trying to teach like anyone else.

At the end of the day, most of us are so exhausted, we just want to go home, wade through the stack of papers we need to grade, plan for the next day, and go to bed. Teaching requires a vast body of knowledge.

We have to know pedagogy, but also must be experts in our subject area or areas. This huge body of knowledge can be an overwhelming hodgepodge of largely disconnected facts, unless we have a system for organizing the information. Master teachers learn how to organize their teaching knowledge into meaningful patterns and from these patterns develop a set of key instructional principles. Their entire instructional practice is governed by this small set of core principles and they rigorously select strategies and teaching approaches based on these principles rather than become enamored with every new strategy or technique that becomes in vogue.

I call these principles the mastery principles and the rest of this book is devoted to helping you learn to apply them to your own teaching practice. Master teachers start where their students are. Master teachers know where their students are going.

Master teachers expect to get their students to their goal. Master teachers support their students along the way. Master teachers use feedback to help them and their students get better. Master teachers focus on quality rather than quantity. Master teachers never work harder than their students. They have practiced these principles for so long that much of what they do has become automatic and seems almost natural. Once you have practiced these principles to the point where they become automatic, it will take very little effort to maintain them.

You may be surprised that none of these principles seems especially earth shattering. They almost seem to be common teaching sense. Most of us know already that we need to set goals or to assess student progress. I would venture that most of us will claim we are already abiding by these principles in our daily practice. We already set high expectations for our students. We already try to get our students to do their own work. Why is it that we are still not successful with all of our students?

If the principles are so effective, and if we are already using the principles in our daily practice, why are we still struggling to reach every student, every day? We all learned these principles in school, but what separates master teachers from the rest of us is that master teachers learned how to use the principles effectively, and rigorously apply these principles Never Work Harder Pages. In fact, these principles have become such an integral part of their teaching that master teachers no longer have to consciously think about them. Many of us for years have been looking for a way to do just that.


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But the master teacher mindset is not simply a response to good training. The master teacher mindset develops as a result of systematically taking all that we know about teaching, organizing it into a few governing principles, and rigorously applying these principles to our teaching until they become our spontaneous response to students in the classroom.

The more we practice these principles, the more we begin to think like master teachers. For staff developers and instructional leaders, this book will help you learn how to support teachers on their journey to becoming master teachers by helping you diagnose where they are on that journey and showing you how to help them reach that next step. At the end of this introduction is a self-assessment to help you diagnose where you are on your journey toward becoming a master teacher. Take the assessment and give yourself two scores: an overall score to assess where you are on the master teacher trajectory, and an individual score for each principle.

You can use your overall score to focus your reading of the chapters Never Work Harder Pages. Chapters 1 through 7 outline each of the principles in more detail and explain how you can begin to practice the principle in your own classroom. Each chapter begins with a vignette that illustrates what most of us were taught about teaching and the challenge that such thinking often presents for teachers. Then, you will be introduced to a principle and the research that explains why the principle is important.

The next section, Practicing the Principle, gives you concrete advice about how you can integrate the principle into your own practice and provides practical examples of how the principle plays out in the classroom. These strategies are grouped under the heading Try This. Throughout each chapter are sections that address any hesitation you may be feeling by providing you with suggestions for overcoming your resistance. These sections, titled Yes, but. They will help you resolve some of the practical challenges that would otherwise get in the way of your being able to implement the principle.

Each chapter ends with a section entitled Getting Started, which summarizes the main steps to applying the principle. You can use these steps to help you focus your thinking on the most important points of the chapter and as a reminder of the ways you can begin to apply the principle in your own classroom. This section also provides concrete steps you can take to move from where you are as determined by your overall score on the self-assessment to the next level in the mastery trajectory.

Teaching Mastery: Never Work Harder Than Your Students ASCD Learn Teach Lead Radio podcast

Chapter 8 will take you step-by-step through the process of moving toward becoming a master teacher by systematically applying the master teacher principles to your practice. It helps you develop a viable action plan that you can immediately put into place, discusses the challenges you may face, and provides resources for getting support as you improve your teaching. It can also serve as a great reminder three to six months down the road to help you analyze your progress, tweak your plan, and stay the course.

You may develop expertise in one area and still be at the novice level in another area. Later, you can move through the rest of the book at a more leisurely pace and see how all of the principles connect.

A Guide to Becoming a Master Teacher

However you choose to use this book, I hope it will inspire you to take a close look at your teaching, to challenge some of your assumptions about both teaching and the way that students learn, and to adjust your instruction or your instructional leadership so that your students can learn more effectively. Developing a master teacher mindset will change the way you feel about students, about learning, and about teaching in general.

Your values will evolve. Your interest in your subject and in teaching will be revived.

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Your identity as a teacher will expand. In the process, you will rekindle your sense that what you do truly makes a difference in the lives of your students. And most of all, I hope that by reading this book you too will discover for yourself the gift that good teaching really is. It is measured by how well you apply the mastery principles to your teaching. Answer each question as honestly as you can; think not about what you would like to do, but about what you are currently doing in your own practice.

There are no right or wrong answers. Use the scoring sheet on page 22 to keep track of your answers. Next to each number, write your answer to that question in the box provided. First, calculate an overall score.

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Then, give yourself an average score for each mastery principle. Your overall score will be between 49 and Your average score for each principle will be between 1 and 4. Which of the following statements is most true for you? I tend to look at my class as a whole and think of my students in b. I see my class as a group of groups and cluster certain students c. I see each of my students as individuals. I pay attention to the individual needs of my students but also notice terms of their group characteristics. Which of the following best represents what you do when you are faced with a new curriculum?

I use the lesson plans included in the curriculum guide. I look at the assessment at the end of each unit and back map my d.

Never Work Harder Than Your Students and Other Principles of Great Teaching Never Work Harder Than Your Students and Other Principles of Great Teaching
Never Work Harder Than Your Students and Other Principles of Great Teaching Never Work Harder Than Your Students and Other Principles of Great Teaching
Never Work Harder Than Your Students and Other Principles of Great Teaching Never Work Harder Than Your Students and Other Principles of Great Teaching
Never Work Harder Than Your Students and Other Principles of Great Teaching Never Work Harder Than Your Students and Other Principles of Great Teaching
Never Work Harder Than Your Students and Other Principles of Great Teaching Never Work Harder Than Your Students and Other Principles of Great Teaching
Never Work Harder Than Your Students and Other Principles of Great Teaching Never Work Harder Than Your Students and Other Principles of Great Teaching
Never Work Harder Than Your Students and Other Principles of Great Teaching Never Work Harder Than Your Students and Other Principles of Great Teaching
Never Work Harder Than Your Students and Other Principles of Great Teaching Never Work Harder Than Your Students and Other Principles of Great Teaching
Never Work Harder Than Your Students and Other Principles of Great Teaching Never Work Harder Than Your Students and Other Principles of Great Teaching

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