Monthly ago, I was trapped in a YouTube viewing spree. I couldn’t stop watching educationally motivated videos. I clicked on link after link and found myself engaged in a number of new ideas – not all of them worthwhile. In the viewing string, I happened upon an interview with Todd Whitaker. He mentioned his book, which led me to read it.

I’m not sure what I was hoping for in this book, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it wasn’t quite what I believe I expected.

If you’re looking for a cookie-cutter, as he writes, approach to how to be a great teacher – then this is not the book for you. Although, What Great Teachers Do Differently: 17 Things that Matter Most by Todd Whitaker, does have a list at the end, it is not meant to be read as the end of your search for answers.

If you’re looking for a way to re-energize your core beliefs in the teaching profession and why you are doing this meaningful and rewarding job – then this is the book for you. Through a series of anecdotes, Whitaker describes what great teachers do. Sometimes, taking it from a principals perspective, but always focusing on good examples.

There are no streamlined suggestions or recipes to follow. The book highlights ideas. In some cases, you will need to read between the lines to understand that it is about the responsibility you take as the adult in the room. But throughout the pages, you will find good advice and positive reinforcement for the job we do with students.

One word of caution: you may find yourself wondering how to get the nay-sayers and pessimists at your school to read this book or to at least act more professionally. I’m happy to have read some of Whitaker’s advice with this – do nothing. The more you focus on your own choices, the more you will sway others. Perhaps, one or two will find themselves wondering about how to change. But as long as you focus on you and primarily your students, then nothing these others do should sway your own positivity.

This quick and easy read definitely reminded me of some of the core beliefs I have as a teacher and need to reinforce. Ideas that I want to implement and times I want to check my behavior, ensuring that I’m not getting sucked into a vortex of mediocrity.

There are good ideas hidden in the 121-page book. Ideas that I will be taking to heart in order to refine my classroom climate for all my students – from the best to one’s labeled as otherwise as the book suggests they should all be treated equally for the success of all.

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Summer Reading Review #5: What Great Teachers Do Differently

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