by Martin Haberman — August 05, 2011
The beliefs of star teachers are compared with those of quitter/failures. Twelve of these beliefs are explained, and examples are given of how they are demonstrated in terms of actual teacher practices. The argument is presented that the strength of these belief systems makes teacher selection more important than training.
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1. Stars recognize that school bureaucracies inevitably have rules and procedures which make the teachers' work more difficult; paper work, time limitations and lack of access to copiers, computers and smart boards are just a few of these.
2. Stars expect to deal with problem students and special needs students in their daily work; quitter/failures believe problems should be handled by others so they can just teach and not have to deal with "distractions."
3. Stars believe that the goals of the school are several and varied; quitter/failures believe a school is successful if it teaches the "basics."
4. Stars persist in trying to teach subject matter that is connected and becomes more complex through the grades; quitter/failures dumb down the curriculum and teach disconnected lessons.
5. Stars are committed to the scientific method in every subject matter they teach; quitter/failures do not view the scientific method as the pervasive method of analysis to be used throughout the school curriculum.
6. Stars believe that motivating students is part of their daily work; quitter/failures do not believe that persistent attempts at motivation are part of their job and write off students who are not self-motivated. ("I can only teach those who want to learn.")
7. Stars are extremely knowledgeable regarding human development and are able to distinguish between student misbehaviors that result from children going through the stages of child and teenage development; quitter/failures are prone to attribute student misbehaviors to some sort of student deficiency or failing.
8. Stars look for explanations of inadequate student learning in the curriculum, teacher methods and themselves; quitter/failure teachers explain inadequate learning in terms of inadequacies in the students, their families and ethnicity.
9. Star teachers are willing to admit mistakes and even make apologies; quitter/failures regard admitting mistakes to students as a sign of weakness.
10. Stars believe that success in school is a function of effort; quitter/failures believe success in school is a function of innate ability.
11. Stars believe the relationship between students and teachers is built on respect; quitter/failures believe teachers and students need to love each other.
12. Stars believe that being successful in school is a matter of life and death for many students; quitter/ failures believe teaching is a secure job.