The Art of Exceptional Teaching - Principal Tribe

PRINCIPAL PERSPECTIVES

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 -  Brandon Johnson  - 

 Principal | Lead Learner | Disruptive Educator | Speaker | Leadership Facilitator | ASCD Emerging Leader | STEAM Educator

The Art of Exceptional Teaching

Principal Perspectives #12, April 1, 2019

In this issue, of Principal Perspectives, we feature the ideas of Brandon Johnson and share four ways to actively apply the art of exceptional teaching to our own learning communities.

The love of learning is something that comes naturally to us from birth, and I would have to say it's one of the most important foundation blocks of living a happy and fulfilled life.  

As school leaders, we are gifted with the ability and opportunity to nurture this in all the people we interact with.  

 One of the greatest legacies we can leave behind is to know that we helped someone ignite and keep the flame of learning alive.

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In fact, it is one of the greatest legacies we can leave behind us, to know that we helped someone ignite and keep the flame of learning alive

It is no easy task though. 

We can’t just stand at the front of the class, regurgitate some information and then call it a day.  To truly help someone “ignite their flame” requires us to engage their mind, and enable them to interact with the concepts they are learning.  

This is what differentiates mediocre teaching from exceptional teaching.

Create a culture of real world "learning experiences" where failure is not a crime. Do the same for professional learning. 

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The art of exceptional teaching is about being able to provide our students with the best possible experiences for them to learn and enjoy learning. 

Life is ultimately all about the experiences we accumulate along the way.  It is how we learn to become better people.  Teaching is no different. Teaching through experiences sets the stage for not only deeper learning to take place, but for our students to blossom into better versions of themselves.

Create Safe Learning Environments

The Principal Perspective

Believing that all students can learn is noble but it requires action that matches the belief for all students to have the opportunity to learn.
 - Brandon Johnson

A student’s environment can make or break their capacity for learning. To really dive deep into a learning experience, students will often need to open up to vulnerability and take risks.

However if they do not feel safe to do this, their opportunity for learning is diminished. They need to know that they can trust both you and their surrounding environment.

Ask Fundamental and Inspiring Questions

The Principal Perspective

When you walk classrooms today, ask yourself: Is this a class in which I would want to attend and be an excited learner? Do I want my child to experience learning in this way? Take action to encourage teachers who are making it happen or challenge those who need it.
 - Brandon Johnson

To truly master the art of exceptional teaching, we must remember that teaching is about exploring the unknown.  And what does exploration begin with?  

Fundamental questions.  

Asking questions that spark lively discussion and debate will keep their curiosity alive and growing, which in turn leads to them independently discovering new knowledge or even creating it.

Allow Teachers to Teach Each Other

The Principal Perspective

The art of teaching is very personal for teachers. Leaders should be intentional about it's preservation as they plan and give feedback to teachers about their instructional practice. One size doesn't fit all in classrooms nor with teachers.
 - Brandon Johnson

Collaborative learning is one of the best experiences we can provide to our students.  It fosters a better understanding of problem solving in the “real world” and better prepares them for work environments.  

It also helps students learn that one of the best ways of learning is to teach someone else yourself.

This is true as you give feedback to teachers, and it's true as you encourage teachers to begin learning from each other. Make it safe for teachers to watch each other and celebrate their craft.

It's personal, so let's personalize professional learning too. 

Learning from Experiences and Failures

The Principal Perspective

"Challenge: Conduct 5 classroom walks today and see how many provide learning experiences versus lessons that don't connect students to real-world application of the concepts. Experiences last a lifetime. Lessons don't."

 - Brandon Johnson

Experience implies failure. “Failure” is a bit of a loaded word.  How we define it, as well as the importance we give it, will greatly impact our sense of success throughout life.  

Everyone ends up “failing” at something.  

Create a culture of real world learning where failure is not a crime. Do the same for professional learning. 

Celebrate and create systems that allow all learners way to grow from failure. It is one of the best life tools you can possibly gift them with.


You can connect with Brandon on Twitter @bjohnsonEDU and at bjohnsonedu.com.

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Copyright 2019 Principal Tribe. Written by Matt Foster and Chrissie Bettencourt.

About the author

Principal Tribe Editor

Principal Tribe is connecting and amplifying the voices of principals and school leaders. Focusing on school leadership, educational research, and learning.

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