Sunday, July 8, 2012


Years ago when I started teaching I read a book called PYGMALION IN THE CLASSROOM by Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobsen that focused on teacher expectations of students.  Their research showed that when teachers expected students to do well and show intellectual growth, they did.  The book had a profound impact on my teaching philosophy.  Look for the best and you’ll get it! 

So, before school starts explain to your principal that you are going to ask her a question and you want her to answer, “YES!”  Tell the principal, “I want you to give me the best and brightest students this year.”  And, of course, the principal will answer, “YES!”  That way on the first day of school when you tell your class that they have been hand picked to be in your classroom because they are the brightest and best you’ll be telling the truth.  (Here’s a funny adaptation a teacher shared.  She tells her students, “You are lucky to be in my room because I’m the best teacher in the school.  But don’t tell anybody else because they’ll be jealous!)

You might even want to make a sign to go over your door that says:

Many things have changed in the past 40 years, but I still hold what Haim Ginott said in my heart:
“I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.”