Ask any educator and they’ll agree that the 2021 – 2022 school year has been the most challenging ever. Students returned face to face and schools encountered a tsunami of social, emotional, and academic challenges. However, despite the chaotic year, some teachers were thriving while most were just surviving (many didn’t make it.). After visiting over 100 classrooms and spending the majority of my time in schools this year, I noticed five traits of these thriving teachers:

1.) They had STRONG love, respect, and appreciation for EVERY child. The relationships with their kids were honorable (students know if you genuinely care for them). There was a strong social and emotional support system in place in these classrooms. Additionally, teachers were able to connect their student’s purpose to the content. Students looked forward to attending these teacher’s classes and the teachers felt the same (even for their most challenging classes).

2.) The classroom was a sanctuary for teaching, learning, laughter, and student-centered activities. Most of the time, it was organized chaos. Students were rarely sitting, you’ll probably hear music, students were constantly laughing, and they were doing most of the talking. These classrooms weren’t a classroom, they were an experience for the students.

3.) Teachers had a strong knowledge of their content, grade-level standards as well as grade-level standards in the previous grades and standards for the next year. A system can be established during cluster meetings to create give teachers this knowledge.

4.) The teachers ensured that every child experienced success in their classroom. Once, I witnessed a teacher take two students who couldn’t read or write on grade level and gave them oral assessments (differentiated assessments) during their lunch. This is an excellent example of meeting students where they are. Also, these teachers celebrated first downs as well as touchdowns. Their students were constantly inspired.

5.) Review #1 again. Once #1 was ascertained the students began holding each other accountable for disrespectful behavior. Referrals were almost nonexistent, parents respected the teacher because of #1 (even the difficult parents), and a community of exemplar behavior, resiliency, and respect was evident.

There are many challenges for administrators in assuring a teacher has all five of these traits. However, systems must be created to multiply this level of love, and learning, exemplified by the teachers who thrived this school year as our children are depending on us.