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10 Steps to Becoming a Great Teacher

10 Steps to Becoming a Great Teacher

Joel |

Step 1: Find a Mirror

One of the most difficult concepts for me to grasp was one of the most important in my early days of teaching. It is also the most transformational and pivotal of everything that we’re going to be doing through this process.

Every problem that happens in my classroom is my fault. Or stated more positively…I am responsible to ensure good things happen in my class.

If we can get over that hurdle, if we can get through that first barrier, we are on the downhill ride to becoming a great teacher. We are responsible for ensuring that our classroom runs smoothly.

The behavior of students is a reflection of their teacher. If most of your students are misbehaving, it’s not primarily the fault of the students. The blame rests squarely on your own shoulders. YOU are the problem in your classroom. I came to realize that my class will behave as badly as I allow them to, and they will also behave as excellently as I demand that they do.


Clearly there will be exceptions to the rule. Sometimes they just misbehave. Weather conditions, testing schedules, assemblies, field trips. There are tons of opportunities in school for them to act up. But by and large, the great teachers are the ones who take personal responsibility for the behavior of their students.

Today’s assignment

Go find the nearest mirror and see who is in the reflection. That person is responsible for fixing most of the problems in your classroom. But recognizing that you are the source of many problems isn’t enough…there’s more.

Grab a notepad or some other note-taking device. Throughout the day, take note of the behavior problems you encounter. As time permits (conference period, lunch, worksheet time, after school), try to analyze how you contributed to the problem, and consider ways that you could have helped avert these problems. It’s okay if you don’t get the time to solve all of the problems today. If you can get even one, that’s a great start. Over the course of the next four weeks, you may want to keep this notepad and see if the problems get less and less. It will also come in handy with tomorrow’s assignment, as well as later on in the week.

Short version

Write down every behavior problem you encounter today. Start the moment the first student enters the room and end the moment the last student leaves the room. Oh yeah, did I warn you that this week is going to likely be the most tiring week of your career? Oops, I’m getting ahead of myself, we only have to take one day at a time!

Continue on to read Step 2

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