10 Things Decent Teachers Do

He’s a thoroughly decent sort.

You hear this.

But what makes a decent teacher?

Martin Haberman in his classic STAR Teachers of Children in Poverty thinks that only decent people can be prepared to teach.

I think he’s bang on the money with this and he lists the attributes of star teachers and the decency they shine as follows:

1. Non-judgmental

They don’t judge. Now that’s easy said than done but they look at understanding events and people rather than labelling someone or something as good or bad.

2. They are not moralistic

They have moral fibres but that doesn’t mean they go around preaching.

3. Not easily shocked

Teachers see and hear plenty of things and star teachers don’t scare easily. They ask “What can I do about this?” and if they can help then they do.

4. They hear

Listening is one thing but hearing someone quite another. They seek to understand and get under the bonnet of what makes someone tick.

5. They know their weak-spots

Teachers are not immune to feelings of hate, prejudice and bias but they work hard at overcoming them.

6. They are not saviours

Decent teachers do their jobs – they don’t pretend to save the world or make some huge difference to pupils and the school. They get on with their work and put things in perspective knowing they can’t change the system.

7. The don’t go it alone

Teachers with star quality network and build relationships.

8. They play to win

Star teachers know they can’t change inequalities and beat bureaucracy but they see themselves as winning. They know that the forces around them interact to make their jobs challenging (society, neighbourhoods, gangs etc) but they never quit with the positive thinking.

9. They enjoy their work

They enjoy their interactions with children so much that they put up with the failures of the system and do it for them,

10. They make an impact

Teachers know that their chief impact is to make children more humane.


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