I have lots of time to ponder things while I’m on the plane to the next location or I’m waiting in line for the subway…you know, I think about really important things like “Why didn’t Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries make it?” and “Why can’t they make nail polish that doesn’t chip the day after a manicure”?…I mean, really deep things like that…

But one of the (more serious) thoughts I have had and have mulled over for years is this: Are excellent teachers born destined to be excellent teachers or are excellent teachers “made”?

Here are some thoughts I’ve had roaming around my mind

  • There are some “born teachers” – they exude supreme control over the class, they are highly organized, they do not tire of explaining concepts again and again, they are able to break down the most difficult concepts into the smallest chunks, they just know what it will take to grab their students’ attention…they just “have it”- but these folks are few and far between, I find.
  • There are some folks who never should have stepped into the classroom – I called them “born to do something else besides teacher“.  These are folks who fantasized about having their moment where the students hang on every word, stay after class to ask questions, beg for the teacher to give additional assignments, specifically thank them in the valedictorian speeches for inspiring them to go to Stanford (or fill in the blank of any high-falutin’ school that you’d like)
  • Then there are those teachers who are a combo of “born” but also work really hard to refine their skills and figure out how they can better…it doesn’t always come easily for these people, BUT they are committed to making it look like it does!  These people are a little “born” and a little “bred” – and many in this category are excellent, inspiring teachers.

Those who know me know that I have little use for those people who are resistant to the point that they are unwilling to learn or implement something new – I think it’s criminal to act like this on the backs of our kids.

BUT, those who know me also know that I root for the underdog and I love a good comeback story.

So…this is why I’m intrigued and committed to supporting those educators (I’m talking all educators here, not just those in the classroom) who have a desire, some skills that need honing, but have a determined spirit to GET THINGS DONE.   These “born and bred” kind of folks are not stuck on the fantasy of teaching (what IS that anyway?), but they’re sold-out to the idea that they are in charge of bringing it everyday in the classroom.

These “born and bred”-ers often look like this:

  • At a conference…they’re taking pages and pages and pages of notes, not leaving early for Starbucks, but staying after to ask the presenter for clarification or more information
  • At the teacher store…they’re buying no-nonsense, academic related stuff for kids that will help them be better teachers, not just the Vegas-splash that has little substance behind it
  • At staff meetings…they’re sitting up at the front or finding their peers so that they can make connections to what they’re learning, they bring something to write with so that they can capture important notes
  • With their principal…they’re popping in and out of the principal’s office to ask questions, ask for support, give ideas
  • With their coach…they’re in regular dialogue about what’s working, what the data’s showing, sharing new ideas from a book study
  • With their peers…they’re proactively sharing ideas, offering support, encouraging others, volunteering for tasks, asking for advice, praising clever ideas of others, partnering for special projects
  • On their own time…cutting out articles to share with the class, thinking of ways to enhance lessons, bringing in real-time connections to their next week’s teaching, reaching out to other teachers online, scouring website for the latest research to keep up to date on teaching practices

You see, excellent teaching is made up of a bunch of decisions and born in discipline…in other words – excellent teachers are not necessarily BORN, but they are BRED to behave in certain ways that pay-off in the classroom.

Jim Rohn said it perfectly:

“You don’t have to change that much for it to make a great deal of difference. A few simple disciplines can have a major impact on how your life works out in the next 90 days, let alone in the next 12 months or the next 3 years.”

I have learned a lot from those “born and bred” teachers throughout the years…it ain’t easy, but they keep showing up, stay disciplined in their skill and attitude practice and the results are phenomenal.

What do you YOU THINK is the most important discipline to have in teaching?