High Performance Teachers ( Super Teachers )
Are you a “High Performance Teacher ? “. When I was a high school teacher in the UK, the government came up with a scheme to reward the best teachers. These teachers known as “Super Teachers” received bonus salary and other such perks. I am not sure I agreed with the governments criteria for choosing these teachers, but often they got it right because high performance people often display the same qualities. After 30+ years in teaching I would like to outline below some of the similar qualities that I think these super teachers possess. It comes down to 6 high performance “ habits” that are part of their performance fabric :-
1. Seek clarity.
High performers teachers don’t necessarily get clarity. Instead, they seek it more often than other people -- so they tend to find it and stay on their true path. They don’t wait the schools “performance assessment” on them, they continually self evaluate and decide what changes they want to make.
They start each lesson by saying, "What is our intention for this lesson? What's important? What matters?” They constantly refocus on what is important.
How do you want to describe your ideal self? Asking -- and answering -- this question more often than other people will definitely give you an edge.
2. Generate energy.
Research shows, unsurprisingly, that most teachers lose energy throughout the day. By 2 or 3pm or if they start working in an Eikawa school from 3pm , then by 7pm or 8pm they’re starting to flag, and many finish the day feeling wiped out.
But, high performance teachers aren't wiped out.
Mastering the “transitions” between lessons is part of the key to generating energy. They're more likely to take a quick break, ( including am/pm breaks and lunchtime ) to close their eyes, to mini-meditate -- to give themselves a short psychological break that releases their tension and focus from one activity so they are primed to take on the next. I hear you saying how hard it is to do this, this is true, and a very quick way to remain stimulated is to master some quick breathing techniques. Particularly “nasal breathing” which forms and releases NO ( Nitric Oxide ) which aids in cognitive function and makes the brain more creative.
Give your mind and body a break every 45 to 60 minutes, which fits in nicely with most English lesson schedules. While this can sometimes be tough to do, whenever possible, plan your day in those chunks. In addition of course, regular exercise, good nutrition and plenty of good sleep will boost your energy levels.
3. Raise necessity.
Before every lesson, high performance teachers raise the psychological necessity regarding why it is important for them to perform well.
They all associate a deep sense of identity with performing with excellence. They don't just find meaning -- teaching with excellence is so critical to their identity that it's almost like food and water.
Some teachers are scared to attach their identity to their performance. High performers are willing to put themselves out there and place their identities on the line. That's why its called raising necessity: It's necessary for them to perform with excellence.
It's not a passion, it's not a preference, it's a necessity.
To raise necessity, always know whom you're doing it for. Ask yourself, out loud, "Who needs me to be on my A game right now?"
It could be your students, colleagues, Headteacher or your family !
Super teachers ask themselves, “what is my WHY for doing this and what is my students WHY for studying, and how can I influence that positively ?”
4. Increase productivity.
Super teachers increase the outputs that matter. They strip away the content that is not important and focus on increasing the quality of the curriculum that remains. The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.
They see the steps ahead, and align themselves to achieve each of those steps. They ask themselves, “What key skills do I have to develop to accomplish those steps? - continual self development.
5. Develop influence.
High performance teachers develop influence by teaching students how to think and challenging them to grow.
Teach students how to think and you change their lives. Super teachers say things like, "Think of it this way" or "What if we approached it this way?" or "What do you think about this?" Over time, they train the students around them how to think -- because when you impact someone else's thoughts in a positive way, you have influence.
High performance teachers challenge their students to grow. That's what makes the most difference where influence is concerned.
6. Demonstrate courage.
In the face of risk, hardship, judgment, the unknown, or even fear, high performance teachers tend to do a couple of things.
First, they speak up for themselves. They also speak up for other people more often than others do. In short, high performers are willing to share the truth about themselves.
Just as important, they "honor the struggle." They know struggling is a natural part of teaching. I like the phrase, “ Expect the expected” ( eg - expect there to be a traffic jam in rush hour !! ) and it will make you more courageous. They don’t complain, they honor the struggle as necessary to forge the kind of character that will help them deserve the outcome they desire, to help their students achieve their dreams by being the best teacher they can.
Super teachers identify what to fight for. Courage comes from wanting to serve their students, colleagues and the school. The will to work through uncertainty or fear comes from wanting to serve someone who needs help.
They don’t focus on changing the world, they decide who they are doing it for, and then work hard for them. That will give them all the courage they need.
Recently because of social media, a number of kids from my old school in Wales ( where I was for 17 years) have found me and sent me messages telling me what a positively profound impact I had on their lives particularly through the outdoor education courses and lessons ( Active English ) that I did with them, and that because of me, some of them also became teachers. At that time, 20-30 years ago I never realized the influence I was having on them !! I am not ashamed to say, those messages brought tears to my eyes.
With this in mind, “ honor the struggle” and never under estimate how much impact you are having on your students.
Ref :- some of the above content was influenced by the work of Brendon Burchard and his book - “ High Performance Habits”