Chick Moorman, author of Spirit Whisperers: Teachers Who Nourish a Child’s Spirit, offers some insight to help us realize who these special gems are!
1. Extraordinary teachers (Spirit Whisperers) realize they teach children first and content second.
hile they care deeply about math, history, language arts, music, or other subjects of their choice, these educators realize that these subjects are only the water they are splashing around in. What they are really teaching students is to be solution-oriented, take personal responsibility for their choices, become internally motivated, and develop a strong belief in their own skills and abilities.
2. Extraordinary teachers set up classrooms as more than a place of discovery, a place of learning, or a place of inquiry.
Although their classrooms can be all those things at times, they arrange their classrooms first and foremost as a place of creation…the creation of who and what their students are as human beings. They help youngsters stay conscious that they are always creating who and what they are, by every choice they make or do not make throughout the day.
3. Extraordinary teachers work to create the “OUR CLASSROOM” feeling.
They build a sense of belonging, togetherness, and family within their classrooms. They structure some lessons so that students work cooperatively to achieve a common goal. They teach interpersonal skills so students learn to complete tasks while working effectively with others.
4. Extraordinary teachers help students to “BE-CAUSE” in their lives.
They set up situations in which children choose and create for themselves the results of their own actions; for example, “If you choose to bring your permission slip back on Monday, you will be choosing to go on the field trip with us. If you choose not to have it in by that time, you will be deciding to spend the day with Mrs Olson.” In the classrooms of extraordinary teachers, situations are structured so that children get to “be the cause” of whether or not they go on a field trip, stay eligible for basketball, or earn a particular grade.
5. Extraordinary teachers work to make themselves dispensable.
They help the child create an internal standard, internal motivation, and an internal sense of responsibility.
They do this by giving students opportunities to do self-assessment, self-appraisal, and self-monitoring and by making a continuous effort to debrief what occurs in the classroom. Extraordinary teachers measure their success not by the degree of obedience their students exhibit, but by the degree of freedom they can handle.