10 Things Smart Teachers Don’t Do


Over at the Inc website, contributing editor Jeff Haden last week contributed “10 Things the Smartest People Never Do.” It’s business-oriented, but it actually translates well into the teaching world as well. Here’s the teacherfied version of the list of things that smart people never do.

1. Thoughlessly waste other people’s time.

This doesn’t just apply to our colleagues– it applies to our students as well. I actually make this explicit promise to my students every fall, and if they demand an explanation of why something I’ve asked them to do is not a waste of their time, I give them one. It is easy to view our students as essentially trapped in school, and so it doesn’t matter how we spend their time because they never had any control over their schedule anyway. Wrong. We’re talking about minutes of fellow human beings’ lives. Don’t waste them.

2. Ignore people “beneath” your level.

Every beginning teacher gets that important advice– make friends with the office secretary and the janitor for your hall. But the word “ignore” is key here. For many of our students, the worst thing about life is that they are invisible to their peers and to much of the world they encounter. Haden advises to see people, and I believe that applies to students as well. It doesn’t necessarily take a huge fifteen-minute interaction with them– just a quick exchange that translates as, “I actually see you.” It is one of the most powerful things we can do.

3. Ask for too much (especially too soon).

Do not be the teacher who depends on all other teachers to take care of your business for you. Do not require everyone else on staff to cover your butt. Take care of your business and more people will be more inclined to give you more help.

4. Ignore people in genuine need.

This includes colleagues and students. This can be hard because we are always tight on time and genuine need never arrives at a convenient moment. Haden offers this observation:

Though I don’t necessarily believe in karma, I do believe good things always come back to you, in the form of feeling good about yourself.

For teachers, the stakes are much higher, because we work with people who are often in genuine need. Read the rest>>