Chuck Poole shares five ways to be an unforgettable teacher or an unforgettable coach. He also gives us links to some free cards he shares with students and parents. Get inspired with some fantastic advice on reaching students.
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Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.
Five Ways to Be an Unforgettable Teacher
Date: Friday, October 27, 2017
So, Chuck, what is our first way?
Chuck: Well, our first way — because you know on Teachonomy I like to say, “Be the teacher they never forget.”
I love talking about this especially to help inspire teachers.
Unforgettable Teacher Tip #1: Start with a Relationship
The first way, I think, is probably the most important that we’ll even talk about. I want to start with it, and it’s relationship.
I believe that there's a big difference between having a relationship with someone where you know maybe we say hello or or we have small talk, and then nurturing one that we actually care about. I think that it's in creating those genuine relationships that you become unforgettable.
Vicki: So, how are some ways you nurture those relationships?
Chuck: Whether you're investing in your students, or your colleagues, or even people at home, I think that the key is simple. I think that you hit on this a lot on your site just from experiencing it. I think that the key to it is we need to let people know that they matter.
Chuck: And then our relationship will grow as we build trust. But I think one problem that people have is that they don't know where to begin. So one thing that I would recommend and one thing that I think is very tangible — it’s what I do, and I have found that it's an easy way to break the ice and begin nurturing a relationship — is through simple notes. So regardless if you're super outgoing or extremely shy, these notes can kind of serve as a bridge to help build a relationship.
What I do is I actually have two sets of encouraging note cards. I actually had a designer create them. I like to print them, and I keep a stack of them on my desk. So I have one stack that was designed specifically to encourage teachers and one that's for students and parents and everyone else.
- Download Chuck’s notecards here: https://teachonomy.leadpages.co/student-thank-you-cards-1/
And what I do is, I will literally take one — and they have inspirational quotes and things like that on them — and I will turn it over and hand write the note. I'll drop it in the colleague’s mailbox, or in the student’s notebook, or even give it to parents during parent-teacher conferences. I find that it's opened doors to relationships that I would never have otherwise had.
Vicki: Now you’ve got these. We’re going to add it to the show notes, so that the listeners can download, too, right?
Chuck: Yeah so I have them on Teachonomy, but I'll give you the links for both sets of those, so that way people can download them and share them with their colleagues and their students. I find that they are just really accepted well. People always smile when they have a personalized note from someone. One thing that I did find — just to wrap up this particular idea — is that these notes have given me the opportunity to build relationships in a way, where I've gone from the person that someone is smiling at, to the reason why they’re smiling. I think that there’s a big difference.
Vicki: Ohhhh. I love that! OK, what’s our second?
Unforgettable Teacher Tip #2: Be the Coach in the Classroom
Chuck: Our second one is to be the coach in the classroom. Now this one hits home with me because I've actually been a coach for over 20 years — in athletics and in sports.
One thing that I’ve learned is that in order for my team to be successful, I need them to know three things:
- They need to know that they can trust what I say.
- They need to know that I believe in them.
- They need to know what their goals are, and that I am someone who could help them achieve them.
So when they have these three pieces of knowledge, I've had successful teams, and I've become a coach that they remember.
So in order to be a coach in the classroom, I think that we can grasp those concepts and put them into our classrooms. I think before students can learn from us, and before we become unforgettable in their minds, they have to know these three things; they have to know that they can trust you, they have to know they that you believe in them, and they have to know that you can help guide them toward accomplishing their goals.
Vicki: I love it.
Chuck: Once they know those three things, then you can truly coach them and guide them and really become unforgettable.
Vicki: Awesome. What’s our third?
Unforgettable Teacher Tip #3: Face Your Fears
Chuck: The third one is to face your fears. I'm a firm believer that no one ever moves forward in life by standing still. I think in order to be an unforgettable teacher, you have to be willing to get rid of the excuses that kind of get us stuck. We have to be willing to take the risks that scare us in order to move forward.
And this is cool, Vicki. I read a statistic the other day, that said in our world today our knowledge doubles every three months. so that means that today, we know double what we knew just three months ago.
I think as a teacher, that kind of tells us that we need to be willing to embrace change. In order to stand out from the crowd — and change tends to be something that we often fear because we fear that with that change comes failure.
Chuck: I think one way to face that fear is to look at failure a little bit differently. I think if we were to change how we look at it. Instead of looking at failure is something that we did wrong, or we couldn't accomplish, but we look at it rather as something we needed in order to learn and move forward, I think we would be able to face those fears and embrace change a little bit differently. Once we embrace that change and we face those fears, we begin to eliminate the excuses that once got us stuck, and we help students become even better than we thought possible, even if it scares us to death.
Vicki: Yeah. Once I heard an acronym for FEAR. False Evidence Appearing Real. That is so true many times. So what’s our fourth?
Chuck: Yeah I agree that is awesome, that acronym, actually.
Unforgettable Teacher Tip #4: Exceed Expectations
The fourth one is to exceed expectations. Now, great teachers, I think always exceed expectations, and I think most people that are listening to this probably would fall into that category.
I find that a story that was once told to me kind of transformed the way I look at how I teach. I just want to share that, because I have a friend and a mentor that's outside of teaching so it's not someone that is a teacher. But they told me a story once to kind of explain a point about his daughter.
He told me that when his daughter was younger, she loved to play games on his iPhone, just like any kids would. She would constantly ask for time to play, and he would oblige and say,”Yeah, sure. That’s fine.”
But there was one time that she came in, and she asked him if she could play on his iPhone, and he said no. So she walked away and she was kind of sad. He said he stopped her, and he said, “No, just wait one second.” He reached in his bag and he pulled out his iPad. And he said, “You can't play on my iPhone, but you can play on my iPad.”
He was saying that you know, from a loving father he wanted to give her much more than she expected.
I think as teachers, we should strive to give our students an iPad experience when they're expecting an iPhone.
Vicki: I love that! OK, what’s our fifth?
Unforgettable Teacher Tip #5: Be Quiet
Chuck: Our fifth is to simply be quiet.
Vicki: Ohhhh, that’s hard!
Chuck: What I mean by that is that think that teachers should really never be the loudest person in the room — which we’ve heard that the people doing the learning should be the ones doing the talking, which is something that I heard in a conversation as well. I think that we all understand that the importance of collaboration and discussion is crucial. But to be unforgettable, I think we need to be quiet in a different way.
Here’s what I mean. One thing that I did this year — and I found it to be a game-changer — was I implemented a weekly meeting. Literally, what I did was I took one class period. I took it out of the curriculum, and everything. It was on Fridays, and every Friday we have one class period that was dedicated to having an in-house meeting with my classes. I teach middle school, so I have multiple classes.
What we would do is each week with each class, we focus on three things.
1 – Evaluate me as a teacher
The first thing I told him was probably one of the most important, and that was where they had to evaluate me as a teacher. They have to tell me what I did well, what I did poorly, what I can improve on. I gave them that voice to kind of give me the criticism that I would need in order to help me get better.
2 – Class meeting about learning
Second, I told them the concepts that we be focusing on the next week, and together we would brainstorm how they wanted to learn them. So then it was my job to kind of develop the unit or lessons around it with it how they themselves learned.
3 – Plan together
Then third, we’d literally plan together. We would work out things like rubrics or strategies or things like that together so they had a full understanding of the expectations. They knew the expectations going into the following week, and they essentially helped create them. It gave them ownership of their learning.
I found that even with boring materials, they were more engaged after implementing these meetings than they ever had been. So I think, you know, when we take the time to be quiet and listen carefully, and we give our students that chance to give input, we become just unforgettable.
Vicki: Oh, I love that! Like, I’m so doing that, Chuck!
Vicki: I’m sitting here thinking about, you know, the greatest PD for me is very often podcasts, blog posts, but even when educators who care share… So when you talk to somebody like you, and you have these amazing ideas, it transforms us.
I’m so excited about striving to be unforgettable. Thank you!
Chuck: Oh, you’re welcome!
Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford
Bio as submitted
Chuck is a teacher, a coach and the visionary behind Teachonomy (http://www.teachonomy.com/). He is the host of the Teachonomy Talks podcast (http://www.teachonomy.com/podcast/), and blogs weekly on topics that encourage, equip, and empower teachers and leaders around the globe. Chuck has been teaching for over 15 years and believes that those who teach and lead have the unique opportunity to live life out loud and become the champions of those they serve. Chuck lives in New Jersey with his wife and enjoys mentoring others, creating laughter in the classroom, and the continued pursuit of his next adventure.
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