But I wanted to tell you a little about the keynote speaker for the day, Todd Whitaker. He's the author of a ton of books on educational topics, and a professor at Indiana State University. He was a teacher and principal himself, is married to an ex-teacher/principal, and his children are teachers...which always lends credibility to any speaker, in my opinion.
I found him to be extremely funny and energetic. His jokes were almost irreverent, but not distasteful. I especially liked how open and honest he was with the topics he addressed. The biggest one he focused on quite a bit is almost a taboo topic, and is kind of a hard truth to face...There are great teachers, there are "crummy" teachers (his words), and there are teachers all in between. And every school has all of these, even the great schools have bad teachers in them.
His book, What Great Teachers Do Differently is full of great points. Some of the major points he mentioned aren't things that will shock most teachers, but they are things we might not take the time to think about without someone else saying them to us to get us thinking.
- He talked about how great teachers get more work and challenges piled on them and poor teachers get less work and no challenges.
- He talked a lot about "Shifting the monkey." This means giving some of those challenges to the people who usually whine about them, ignore their whining, and still expect the job to be done well.
- He mentioned that programs don't make great schools, great teachers do.
- He talked about how the only person in the classroom you can control is yourself.
- Show students respect 10 out of 10 days. After all, that's what we expect.
- Three things a great teacher never does are yell, argue, or use sarcasm.
- You only get into as many arguments as you let yourself get into.
- Take advantage of all the free professional development that twitter has to offer.
- And finally, the #1 indicator of a school's success is whether the principal solicits teacher input.
The keynote presentation was just the tip of the iceberg for the day. I'll talk more about some of the great ideas for writing from the workshops that followed in future posts!
Getting away for a couple days was great, and I was excited to learn some new things, but for now it's great to be back home!
In other news, I wanted to announce my upcoming Blogiversary Giveaway! Can you believe it? This lil ol' blog of mine is turning 1 year old in just one month! Be sure to check back in a month for a chance to win some great prizes!
I've already got some great prize donations from some of our favorite bloggers, but if you are a grade 3-5 blogger and have a teaching product you'd like to contribute to the giveaway, let me know!