Putting the “It” Back in Teaching

Sep 5, 2012 by

In my area of the country it is “Back to School” week.  I know that my colleagues in other parts of the country have been in session one, two or more weeks already.  Whether we are in our first week or finishing our first month, this new school year stretches before us with plans and possibilities.

This summer I had the privilege of hearing a talented BER colleague, Lynn Stenroos, present a keynote address at a summer conference.  She titled the keynote “The IT Factor” based on Mark Wiskup’s book The It Factor: Be the One People Like, Listen to, and Remember.  My comments here are adapted from her ideas.  Wiskup defines the “IT” factor as “the remarkable ability to instantly create honest and powerful connections, in every meeting and every social interaction, every day.

I have been thinking a lot about what that means for us as literacy teachers. As the author Avi once pointed out, “If you are going to teach me to read and write, first you need to love me.”  I believe he is telling us that we need to begin by building strong relationships with our students or as Wiskup calls them—powerful connections.

At the beginning of the school year it is easy to become overwhelmed with curriculum planning, bulletin boards, assessments, meetings, etc.  But I encourage you to stop and remind yourself why you became a teacher in the first place.  Probably somewhere at the top of the list is that you enjoy working with children and making a difference in their lives.  Well, if this is the case, you are going to need big doses of “IT”.  Where can you go to get IT?  I believe we must begin by examining our priorITies—asking ourselves what really makes a difference for students.  I have made a list below of a few places where we find IT.  You will undoubtedly think of more.

Where can we find IT?

  • activITy
  • commITment
  • ignITe
  • invITation
  • excITement
  • posITive attITude

I think it is also helpful to remind ourselves where we will NOT find IT.

  • Common Core Standards
  • assessments
  • report cards
  • test results

It is often these things that weigh us down and keep the IT out of our teaching or prevent us from creating honest, powerful connections with our students.  It is my hope that you will find and keep the IT in your teaching this school year.

For more inspirational reminders on what a difference you make as a teacher, please see these past blog posts:

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