Reblogged: A dozen basic guidelines for educators

A dozen basic guidelines for educators

eacher Vanessa Ford takes a break to visit with students Silvia Gutierre (Amanda Voisard / The Washington Post)

D.C. teacher Vanessa Ford and student (By Amanda Voisard / The Washington Post)

Do we really need education policies and practices to cover everything that goes on in the classroom? Author Alfie Kohn says “no” and, below, offers basic guidelines that can really help teachers. Kohn is the author of 12 books about education and human behavior, including “The Schools Our Children Deserve,” “The Homework Myth,” and “Feel-Bad Education… And Other Contrarian Essays on Children & Schooling.” He lives (actually) in the Boston area and (virtually) at

By Alfie Kohn

To create the schools our children deserve, it’s probably not necessary to devise specific policies and practices for every occasion.  Rather, these will follow logically from a few core principles that we devise together.  Here’s a sample list of such principles, intended to start a conversation among educators, parents, and (let’s not forget) the students themselves:

1.  Learning should be organized around problems, projects, and (students’) questions — not around lists of facts or skills, or separate disciplines.

2.  Thinking is messy; deep thinking is really messy.  Therefore beware prescriptive standards and outcomes that are too specific and orderly.

3.  The primary criterion for what we do in schools:  How will this affect kids’ interest in the topic (and their excitement about learning more generally)?

4.  If students are “off task,” the problem may be with the task, not with the kids.

5.  In outstanding classrooms, teachers do more listening than talking, and students do more talking than listening.  Terrific teachers often have teeth marks on their tongues.

6.  Children learn how to make good decisions by making decisions, not by following directions.

7.  When we aren’t sure how to solve a problem relating to curriculum, pedagogy, or classroom conflict, the best response is often to ask the kids.

8.  The more focused we are on kids’ “behaviors,” the more we end up missing the kids themselves — along with the needs, motives, and reasons that underlie their actions.

9.  If students are rewarded or praised for doing something (e.g., reading, solving problems, being kind), they’ll likely lose interest in whatever they had to do to get the reward.

10.  The more that students are led to focus on how well they’re doing in school, the less engaged they’ll tend to be with what they’re doing in school.

11.  All learning can be assessedbut the most important kinds of learning are very difficult to measure — and the quality of that learning may diminish if we try to reduce it to numbers.

12.  Standardized tests assess the proficiencies that matter least.  Such tests serve mostly to make unimpressive forms of instruction appear successful.


ABC’s of teaching

Here are some of the ABC’s of teaching – I’m sure I’ll think of more as I go along

A is for analyse- we not only teach analysis but we need to be involved in the process the whole time. We need to ask ourselves – what is going right? what is going wrong? why?

B is behaviour – bad behaviour cannot be treated in a black or white way, rather it is something holistic. There are always reasons why students misbehave and our job is not to act as a shrink, but rather to readjust our lesson, our perspective and how we address the students according to their needs. Bad behaviour is not personal, it just is and we have to come to terms with how to deal with it.

C is cognition- cognitive processes go on in all shapes and forms – how to we release that spark? How do we connect our students to what they are studying?

D is for defining goals- the more a teacher defines what he or she is expecting from the class, the more cooperation he or she will get in return

E is for educator – a teacher is an educator – it’s not a job, it’s a calling.

F is for feeling – a teacher must have a feeling for the class and for the individual students. It’s not dry science here.

G is for gimmicks – a class always need a bit of lightening up here and there, so gimmicks such as games, sending answers via sms, something cute do quieten the class down can all be useful. Just don’t rely on them as a replacement for real teaching.

is for using your HEAD – don’t get emotionally boiled over by manipulations or harrassment – always use your head and avoid knee-jerk reactions.

is for intelligence. Remember ALL of your students are intelligent in one way or another and remind them that intelligence comes in many shapes or forms. There is no such thing as a ‘stupid’ student in my class.

J- is for judgement. There are rules and there is judgement based on a given situation. Don’t ever make yourself come across as unfair to your students. Always work on the assumption that they are doing their best.

K – is for knowledge. Your knowledge as a teacher can only take you so far. Strengthen it, increase it.

L- is for learning strategies. Teach your students the best learning strategies so they can take responsibility for themselves.

N – is for nourishment – don’t expect kids to learn on empty stomachs. It is impossible for them.

O – is for options. A class like having the power to choose. Giving them options in exercises and activities gives them a sense of empowerment.

P- is for peripheral vision – you must have your eyes on the periphery of the classroom ,as well as its center.

Q- is for questioning. Asking key questions which make them question is the best way to give them Y2K skills.revi

R – is for review – try to find time at the end of the class to review all the material you have learned.

S – sleep your brain needs it, so does theirs.

T – testing – not too much, not too little. Where, when and how have to be seriously looked into.

U – understanding. You must understand their needs, they must understand your requirements.

V – verbalize – they may know the answer, but having them say it is a different skill.

W- winning. Your class are all winners and they must understand that. Encourage them in every way, one word of encouragement can go a very long way.

X – try to not to put too many of those red X’s on a page – it’s so discouraging. If a student does really poorly, just have them do the test again.

Y – year. The school year goes by in the blink of an eye, so make it count!

Z- zest for learning. Do whatever you can to give your students a zest for learning!