Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Good Holiday Read

What Great Teachers Do Differently has been wafting around my world, and so I finally took it in hand and read it. It is a positive and energizing read, and it is a great handbook for LEADERS, too! The lessons here apply to life and work in general, and I'm taking away some gems. Author Todd Whitaker is a principal who shares his experiences in concise and interesting stories. One chapter that made a difference in my behavior already is one called "The Teacher is the Filter." He poses the question, "How is your day going?" And then continues: As educators, we hear this question many times a day. Our response not only influences how others view us, but also affects the frame of mind of the person who asked. What's more, we have choices about how to respond...You can smile at a fellow teacher and and say, "Things are great! How about with you?" Or you can respond, "That Jimmy Wallace is getting on my nerves!"--and all of a sudden Jimmy Wallace is getting on that teacher's nerves too (whether the teacher knows him or not. Whitaker then takes that lesson further by describing how important it is for principals not to share information with their staff about an irate parent, for example, because it serves no useful purpose. This is an authentic leader with real experiences on which to draw. Many principals with whom I get to work have a similar positive outlook, and it's energizing to be around them. You can literally feel it when you enter their building, because this attitude is contagious--teachers, janitors, and parapro's all "catch" it! And, most importantly, kids catch it, too.


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