The Absolute Best Teaching Practice

With grad school beginning, the school year, and my children’s sports all beginning in August, I haven’t had any time to write about anything I’ve been reflecting on. However, those three things have given me plenty of opportunity and motivation to reflect on my practice. I’ve attended multiple professional development sessions focusing on multiple practices labeled as “best practices” in the classroom. However, I believe there is one vital practice that doesn’t happen often and in my time reflecting this semester, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is the most important practice to ensure success in the classroom.

Before I share my best practice with you, lets look at some of the others that I use in class or that we have discussed this semester. There is formative assessment, asking higher-level questions, cooperative learning, brain breaks, and pre-teaching. Ok, this isn’t everything we’ve covered, but you get the point. If you would like a list of best practices from Grant Wiggins, click here.

To clarify, I’m not saying these things are not important. I know there is no way my students could have the success they have without the feedback from formative assessment, or the energy and focus gained from brain breaks, or higher-order thinking students engage in while in cooperative learning groups. But, students would never engage in any of those activities if it weren’t for what I believe is the best educational practice.

I could become a consultant or write a book, but my best practice is so simple, the PD would take 1 minutes and the book would be one page and one sentence. I’m sure that someone, somewhere has some data on this practice and can quantify gains and tell you the effect size of my practice. However, I don’t have it, so you’ll just have to trust me.

Are you ready? You really want to know Andy Harridge’s absolute best practice to use in the classroom? The one thing that I believe is most vital to the success of students and teachers and the first and only sentence of my book would be:

Love kids.

That’s it. That’s the secret from Andy Harridge’s book The Secret to Producing Highly Successful Students. Love kids. Love them when you are tired. Love them when they annoy you. Love them when nothing else you have tried is working. Love kids because, if you don’t love kids and they know it, they will never buy into anything that you are selling ever.

In a perfect world, I would win the lottery (even though I don’t play), I would build my own school, and I would make “loving students” my number one priority. I would focus PD on loving students and it would be part of everyone’s evaluation. I would love to see the results if we focused on creating an environment of love, acceptance, confidence, excitement, and love again. Of course, we would talk about formative assessment, cooperative learning, brain breaks, etc. But, above all, students would walk out of my building with no doubt in their mind that they are loved by every single one of their teachers. Once that was realized, I can only imagine what students would be willing to do and the effect this would have on the world.