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How to Give Students More of What They Want So They Can Get What They Need

Mary-Dean Barringer, CEO, All Kinds of Minds

The start of a school year is clean slate. For a period of time, both teachers and students focus on the possibilities for success. We know that schools and teachers are feeling enormous pressure to show achievement gains for their students, particularly in reading and mathematics and other state assessments. "At grade or above grade" is the new mantra and can quickly become the only measure of teacher effectiveness and student success. We need to be vigilant that our focus this year on school success is inclusive of this critical benchmark, but includes more of what students and parents define as teaching success.

Students and teachers share hopes and fears for a new school year. Teachers hope all their students will find success and fear that they won’t be able ensure those results, particularly if it’s narrowly defined only as test results. Students hope that they will get a "great teacher" and fear that they won’t. Students have told us what they look for in a teacher. They want a teacher who exhibits the 11 traits they identified in the book Simply the Best: 29 Things Students Say the Best Teachers Do around Relationships, by Kelly Middleton and Elizabeth Petitt.

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