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What Great Educators Do Differently

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the inaugural What Great Educators Do Differently Conference in Chicago. There were so many fantastic educators at this event willing to share their expertise related to teaching, learning, leadership, technology, and making connections. After attending various sessions facilitated by Paul Solarz, Dwight Carter, Amber Teamann, Angela Maiers, and having conversations with other participants, I have developed a list of what I feel great educators do differently. The list and descriptions will not seem mind-boggling in any way; however, I believe that truly great educators do these things consistently within their daily practices.


Great educators know their strengths and where they can grow:

I have faced a hard truth over the past four years serving in my role as elementary principal of two schools: I cannot be everything to everybody. That is a tough pill for me to swallow because I am a helper by nature. I know that I am surrounded by an incredible amount of talent in many areas, and have realized that it is my responsibility to leverage strengths while placing people in positions where they can thrive. Great educators find a way to surround themselves with people who will make up for their deficiencies and continue to move the organization forward.


Great educators are excellent time managers:

There doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that we would like. Great educators are intentional with their actions, constantly prioritize their tasks, and delegate responsibilities to continually build the capacity of others. Great educators also understand their appropriate life fit by investing appropriate time at home and school.


Great educators ensure actions mirror beliefs:

When we have a true understanding of what we stand for and what we believe in, daily decisions and actions are much clearer. It is critical to understand what we are all about as individuals and organizations, but even more important to ensure daily actions and decisions are aligned to this set of beliefs. Great educators model the way.


Great educators understand what it is like to walk in the shoes of another: As educators, we are in a people business and the quality of our people determines the success of our schools. Many groups of people bring different personalities, circumstances, challenges, and so forth. Great educators realize that everyone adds value to the system and are able to understand the perspectives of others. Great educators treat all people as if they are good, assume the best of intentions at all times, and understand that everybody has a story.


Great educators connect to get better:

We cannot do it alone; developing students is just too important to do in isolation. Great educators connect, collaborate, and learn from those inside and outside of their settings. There are so many tools and platforms that we can utilize to establish connections with those in our personal learning networks whether that is Twitter, Voxer, Facebook, blogs, Google+, or professional conferences. Great educators realize that it is not about the tool, rather it is about the connection and the commitment to learn with a community of people focused on doing what is best for students.

What would you add?

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