13 Principles of Teaching

During my current book tour, I have been asked repeatedly about my teaching philosophy - probably as a result of a story that I tell about a high school English teacher. After 17 years of teaching, I could write a book about my philosophy (and perhaps someday I will), but for now, here is a list of my most strongly held beliefs. 

  1. If you haven't given your students an authentic reason to learn, don't even bother teaching the lesson.
  2. The most effective tool for assessing student progress is absolute honesty.
  3. When it comes to discipline, you must only say things that you are willing to do.
  4. The first step to planning every lesson is to determine how it will be fun for students.
  5. Teachers must be reading and writing on a regular basis in order to be effective teachers of reading and writing. 
  6. The student's voice should be heard far more often than the teacher's voice. 
  7. Teachers must think of parents as full and equal partners in the education of the child.
  8. If your students are not laughing at least once every hour in your classroom, you have failed them.
  9. The most important lessons taught by teachers often have little or nothing to do with academics.
  10. The best administrators understand that teachers are more knowledgeable about instruction than they could ever be.
  11. Time is more valuable in the classroom than anywhere else in the world. Waste not a second. 
  12. It is almost impossible to set expectations too high for students.
  13. The single greatest assessment of a teacher's effectiveness is their students' desire to come to school every day.