Teaching Profession Opinion

From Struggling Teacher to Star Teacher

By David Ginsburg — December 18, 2012 1 min read
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Has it been a rough year for you so far? If so, I can relate from my early days in the classroom. 2nd grade teacher Emily McGinley can relate too. Three years ago Emily headed into January feeling down because she had been unable to reach or teach her students. But just a few weeks later, struggling teacher Emily was on her way to becoming star teacher Emily. And here’s how she, I, and many struggling teachers I’ve coached have turned things around--and how you can too:

Step 1: Take Ownership. Sure there are outside factors that compound the challenges of teaching. But what can you do about them? Nothing, so focus instead on what you can do something about: your classroom. Related posts: ImageOwning and Overcoming Classroom Woes and Coachability: A Key to Performing Up to Capability.
Step 2: Make Cause-Effect Connections. It's hard to solve a problem if you don't know why it's happening. Stop throwing darts at your problems (like I did at first), and start pinpointing the causes of them. Read Replacing Classroom Chaos with Control for tips on how to do this.
Step 3: Target Causes. Seek solutions that target the causes of problems rather than their effects. Example: Students acted out when I went to my desk for supplies. Shame on them for their behavior (effect), but shame on me for going to my desk (cause). My solution: wearing a tool belt with all my supplies.

Give this process a try and let me know how it goes--I might even share your story in a future post. And read Harry and Rosemary Wong’s article, The Lasting Impact of Instructional Coaching, for more on my Cause-Effect approach and Emily McGinley’s rise from struggling teacher to star teacher.

Image by GECC, with permission

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The opinions expressed in Coach G’s Teaching Tips are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.