On Monday, October 19th, 6 teachers spent the day with Dr. Todd Whitaker at Dunkerton High School. Dunkerton administrators and staff organized the event with local schools and extended invitations that were accepted by 16 Northeast Iowa districts. Charles City landed six seats and brought a small team of MS and HS teachers to the event.
Dr. Whitaker is one of the most entertaining and bold educational speakers you will find, he mixes emotion and humor with does of reality that hit home to any educator as he delivers his message of What Great Teachers Do Differently.
Although the day was structured as a simple stand and deliver format, Dr. Whitaker did a masterful job of providing thought provoking rhetoric and provided the CC teachers with plenty to talk about.
Some highlights from the CC team include, Dr. Whitaker’s plea to educators to get involved in the vast professional learning opportunities offered by Twitter. A “Sharpening Our People’s Skills” inventory placing educators is different working personality groups. CC teachers each shared their own highlights as well.
Mrs. Sullivan’s Highlights
RAISE THE PRAISE – MINIMIZE THE CRITICIZE: Teachers have a tremendous responsibility to treat students with the respect and dignity that every individual deserves. Every. Single. Day. Too often, students are treated differently depending on whether they are considered a “good” kid or a “bad” kid. Instead, every day we must practice treating all kids as good kids. We need to take care of them; you never know when the day is that they will need us the most. IGNORE, don’t avoid, the misbehaviors and deal with the student when you’re ready, not when they’re ready. A misbehaving student is looking for attention and an audience. Ignore that behavior until you get a chance to speak to the student individually and without the audience they desire. Acknowledge positive behaviors as often as possible. No one has ever said they’ve been praised too much! Raise the praise; Minimize the criticize.
Mrs. Molstead’s Highlights:
Treat people as if they are good. Todd Whitaker’s take on how we treat others seems like a no brainer, but how many of us actually do it? Literally, treat EVERY person as if they are good, that’s it. It doesn’t matter if they are a crummy person or a good person, treat them as if they are good. Smile at them, greet them kindly. One of my favorite quotes from the day from Dr. Whitaker, “Ten days out of ten we should treat students with respect and dignity because we never know which day it’s going to make a difference for them.”
Mr. Voves’ Highlights:
Listening to Todd Whitaker was a chance to step out of the classroom and reflect on the 17 things that he has identified as mattering the most in being a great teacher. While none of his 17 things were earth shattering, they resonated with me as the traits and actions taken by my favorite teachers as a student. My favorite teachers:
- recognized “it is not programs, but people,” connecting with me and knowing me as an individual, rather than just a student
- “Gave 10 days out of 10,” never allowing their personal lives to dictate the spirit and energy they exuded in the classroom.
- Created orchestrated lessons, making them seem “random rather than planned,” anticipating students’ questions and thoughts to further growth.
- · “Increased authentic and timely praise and minimized criticism,” helping to demonstrate care and sustaining student effort.
- · Understood the “power of expectations,” recognizing that they were not in place to catch a bad behavior, but to set a bar of excellence in school and life.
As for many educators, these are the people and reasons that led me to the profession. I am grateful to those that inspired me and allowed me to recognize “it is cool to care.” During the day, Whitaker highlighted what I’ve always known; I am the variable in my classroom. The challenge with that of course, is not only recognizing that fact today, tomorrow or even next week, but recognizing that EVERY DAY.
Whitaker celebrated that “Teaching is the profession that makes all other professions possible.” Simply stated, “The thing we know about teaching is that we never know when it stops.” What a great challenge and privilege we have as educators!
Mrs. Hervol’s Highlights
Todd Whitaker was great opportunity to refresh my philosophy as an educator. He addressed the challenges we face as educators in our relationships with students, parents and even our colleagues. How we choose to approach them is completely up to us. We can “siddle up” next to those challenges, treat people well, and reward those favorable behaviors so that goals can be achieved. He reminded me that “A teacher never know where the influence stops” and that I need to be a risk taker in order for kids to be risk takers. With the many forward thinking practices that we are working towards as a district, we have to work to realize “The challenge is not to work with people like you. The challenge is how to work with people who aren’t.” We may not all have the same approach but we all have the same goals and that is to help students to be successful and productive citizens. “Raise the Praise, Minimize the Criticize”.
Mrs. Nelson’s Highlights
I had the opportunity to listen to Todd Whitaker speak on the topic of one of his books called “What Great Teachers Do Differently.” I could easily spin that title and apply it to his presentation and talk about “What Great Speakers Do Differently. Mr. Whitaker was engaging, humorous, and full of real-world wisdom. It is about that real-world wisdom that I will write further.
Mr. Whitaker shared with us practical and common sense things that hugely impact teaching on a daily basis. The best part of his findings about “What Great Teachers Do Differently” is that all of the practices he found helpful can be implemented without spending a penny and without buying into any type of initiative.
The first point that I remember and took to heart was his finding that great teachers treat kids with dignity and respect every day, all year. Despite the time of day, day of the week, week of the month, or month of the year, when he walked into great teachers classrooms he found those teachers greeting kids, expecting them to do the right thing, and treating them with manners. This is something that takes no funding and can be seamlessly incorporated into every class and it pays huge dividends in climate/culture, reducing discipline problems, and increasing learning.
I also loved the point he made that “it is not programs, it’s people,” when we are trying to impact education. He talked about how great teachers will do well with any program that they implement because their classrooms run on a set of principles about how to treat students and great organization. He said in his findings that in a great teacher’s classroom, things run so smoothly that it looks like things happen randomly, but great teachers have it all thought out so nothing happens randomly. So, no matter your current program or new focus, a great teacher will be able to adjust because his or her core principles are the same.
So, these are the points that stuck out to me from Mr. Whitaker’s funny and engaging speech! It was very inspiring and I will keep these points in the front of my mind and think about them often!
Consensus from the group is Dr. Whitaker is the type of speaker that every educator needs to hear, and the message he delivers resonates on many levels. We continue to be thankful for opportunities to send teams of teachers to hear influential educational leaders and bring back impactful change four our school district.