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The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teachers

Much has been written about headlines and how that way we present it has a deep impact on the attention visitors and readers pay to such an article. And this is one of those cases, deliberately I chose the headline, paraphrasing the popular The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, a business self-help book.

But what makes teachers highly effective?

We should start with two basic premises: Teachers are facilitators and not entertainers even though occasionally have to play that role. The second point to have in mind is that learners are not anymore the passive subject who only listens, new technologies put students in charge of the information they access, they are able to save, reformat and share it.

TESConnect has a list of 7 Secrets Behind Great Teaching. They explain how along Crelos, a business psychologists, they went to analyse the "personalities, motivations and behaviour of 15 award-winning teachers to uncover the seven habits that make them successful in the classroom."

Secrets effective teachers put into practice:

    1. They build confidence

    Many students suffer from low self-esteem, basing their aspirations on celebrities (Michael Jackson just to mention one)and feeling disappointed when their lives don’t match up, so teachers have to build confidence in abundance.

    2. They’re not afraid to make difficult decisions

    Although this is something required of senior management, it is a personality trait rather than a behaviour that can be learnt. It seems natural that 57 per cent of participants have a strong or extremely strong preference for authority, meaning that they are comfortable making difficult or unpopular decisions.

    3. They develop others

    In school, this behavior may be displayed when teachers give up their time to help other colleagues acquire new skills or oversee training days. It is one of the involving behaviors and as well as developing your kids, it’s about developing your own and others’ capabilities by providing opportunities for career development, giving coaching and constructive feedback or setting aside a specific budget for training.

    4. They’re good communicators

    Many of the teachers gave examples of using school displays, songs or analogies to communicate their message. One head that scored well had used the song Proud by Heather Small to convey a message of confidence through the school. Being able to communicate well is fundamental to teaching and all teachers provided evidence of this.

    5. They’re non-conformists

    While teachers may not always admit to it, Kirsten Darling agrees that teachers tend to get bored easily. 'Teachers generally don’t like doing the same thing day in, day out. And the pupils find that more interesting too,' she says. 'There are a lot of structures put in place for teachers that can be quite limiting, but if you have people in management who allow you to pursue your own creativity and be dynamic, that’s ideal.'

    6. They thrive in the company of others

    While a vast proportion of the population spend their working life in front of a screen, teachers spend most of their professional life in front of children. So it’s good to know that teachers enjoy the company of other people and there is a strong leaning towards fellowship among this group.

    7. They see the bigger picture

    'The teachers are all quite good at looking at what other schools are doing, looking outside of their immediate surroundings and even outside of education,” says Ms Henshilwood. 'These are all award-winning teachers, and as you are seen to be better at your job and become more senior, you are given bigger management responsibilities. If you’re a head of year or department you start having to take on the bigger picture,' concludes.

For those of you already in the classroom, or those thinking of entering the field of teaching and education, this is a reminder of what it takes to be a success. Not only for your personal benefit but our students, for the benefit of our country.

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  1. Excellent post. What's ironic in each of the seven points is that many teachers lack the very things they are attempting to instill in their students. Something to think about.

  2. very well written. reminds me of a teacher in high school mrs. manlulu who made me feel very competent, making me a very motivated student.

  3. The list is alright, but you could and should have given more concrete examples. Here is a presentation I did a year back or so entitled:

    10 Secrets to Great Teaching


    There you can also listen to me babble about it for around 29 minutes.

    Here is the related blog post:


    Have fun discovering some more wacky ideas about great teaching (perhaps).

    Warm Regards,


  4. An excellent synthesis, but I would add one expansion to Point 6:

    We work all day amongst students. Before school, during breaks and after school we are busy preparing materials. We rarely work alongside colleagues. I often say that "Teaching can be a very lonely profession." It is the good teacher that recognises this problem and makes the necessary effort to overcome such professional isolation.

  5. A new (revised) Code of Conduct and Practice for Registered Teachers in England becomes effective in October 2009


    Eight principles expected of teachers under the new code of conduct:

    -Put the wellbeing, development and progress of children and young people first.

    -Take responsibility for maintaining the quality of their teaching practice.

    -Help children and young people to become confident and successful learners.

    -Demonstrate respect for diversity and promote equality.

    -Strive to establish productive partnerships with parents and carers.

    -Work as part of a whole-school team.

    -Co-operate with other professionals in the children’s workforce.

    -Demonstrate honesty and integrity and uphold public trust and confidence in the teaching profession