What are the Characteristics of Rock Star Teachers?

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The Game Changers of Education

Having worked with thousands of educators all around the world, I have had the privilege of observing and learning from many Rock Star Teachers and found that they share several characteristics.  No, they don't need to set their classrooms aflame, but they do ignite a fire for learning and positively impact student achievement.

Rock Star Teachers have/do this:

*A Desire to Learn and Transform

~Rock Star Teachers (RSTs) never believe they have learned it all.  They eagerly participate in educational conferences, PLCs, trainings, research, edcamps, Twitter, classes, NBCT programs and book studies.  Their commitment to bettering themselves is evident in their instruction, as they rarely will be doing the same thing in class as they did 10 years ago.

*Ability to Engage Students

~Rock Star Teachers engage students by providing learning tasks to students every few minutes.  Students in RST classes are continually asked to explain, justify, defend, critique and create content.  One will never see students just ‘sitting and getting’ during a 60-minute lecture in these classes; students talk about the content just as much or more than the teacher as RSTs know the importance of student involvement and create continual opportunities for students to engage and share in the learning.

*Reflect and Take Risks

~Rock Star Teachers are not afraid to pilot a curriculum or tech tool and ask questions.  They continually reflect on what the students need and how to supply those needs; and they perfect methods to accomplish the learning goals even more effectively next time.  You may hear them say that they have never taught a perfect lesson, but don’t be fooled; they are as close to perfection in the classroom as possible.  Soak up their nuances and pearls of wisdom, for lessons learned from a RST can save a novice years of consternation and frustration.

*Explicitly Teach Content AND Skills

~You will never hear a RST say, “It is not my job to teach my students to read, write, or comprehend, because I only teach math, etc.” RSTs embrace the reality that they are indeed responsible for teaching comprehension, in addition to their content. They actively search out and utilize the vocabulary, writing, critical thinking and engagement strategies, materials and tech necessary to teach students both the skills and content they need for mastery.

*Utilize Essential Questions

~Rock Star Teachers hook students from the beginning, often by commencing with an Essential Question. They use lesson, unit and course essential questions to aid students in making universal connections, thus enhancing learning.  They foster discussions and debates focused on the EQs throughout the learning process so students are focused on the learning objective and are able to cement new information to prior knowledge. 

*Passion & Enthusiasm

~RSTs are on fire with excitement for their students, lessons and profession.  Their positivity affects others and they refuse to let negativity infect them.  You will not hear them complaining about this initiative or such-and-such curriculum, as they are too focused on the positives in education…our fantastic students!

*Effective Parent Communication

~RSTs reach out to parents in the beginning of the school year to make sure the first contact is informative and positive.  They continue to use multiple methods of communication throughout the year to reach parents. In addition to emails and newsletters, they often develop class websites, and Twitter and Facebook school accounts to share student learning and expectations with families.

*Outside Connections with Students & Families

~Rock Star Teachers know it is vital to have connections with kids in and out of the classroom.  They coach teams, oversee clubs, direct school plays, chaperone crazy extended cross country or even out of the country field trips, attend athletic and academic events and make a point to stop at the corner coffee house that little Johnny works at on Saturday mornings.  RSTs understand that kids ‘don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.’

*Exhibit Professionalism

~RSTs dress professionally, arrive early and leave late, make positive connections with colleagues, families and the community, don’t engage in gossip, curse, or complain about “lazy” students.  They take teaching seriously and they demonstrate the qualities that any profession would admire.

*An Overwhelming Belief that Students Matter

~This elite group perhaps shares one of the most important characteristics and that is why they are true Caped-Crusaders, Game Changers and undeniable Rock Stars. They believe that educators are to do what is best for the students (not what is most convenient for adults); whatever “the best” entails, however painful, exhausting, frustrating and time-consuming it is, it is worth it because our students simply deserve our best everyday, no excuses.

It gives me chills to see a “Rock Star” in action.  They embody the art and science of effective teaching, demonstrating that teaching is not for those who can’t, but for those who can and choose to. For teaching is THE profession that allows for all other professions to exist and it is not for the faint of heart, it is for the fearless and the passionate path forgers…the Rock Stars. 

A motto fit for Rock Star Teachers:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels.  To the ones who see things differently.  They are not fond of rules and they have no respect for status quo.  You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them or vilify them.  But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.  Because they have the passion and courage to do what needs to be done. They are the ones who are crazy enough to believe they can change things and those who believe... are the only ones who do.” Steve Jobs, modified

Julie Adams, Adams Educational Consulting, www.effectiveteachingpd.com

A Link to another article on this topic, “The World Needs More Rock Star Educators”: http://www.daisydyerduerr.com/the-world-needs-more-rock-star-educators/