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A BELIEF IN ALL LEARNERS. Outstanding teachers believe strongly that all of their students are capable of substantial learning and growth, not only those who have achieved noteworthy academic success in the past. The finest teachers refuse to "give up" on students who learn less swiftly or less independently than their peers; instead, they find creative ways to reach those who may need extra support or an alternative approach. Believing in the capacity and desire of all students to learn is an essential foundation for successful teaching.
A GIFT FOR CARING AND EMPATHY. Outstanding teachers care genuinely about their students as whole human beings. They invest themselves in their students' learning and growth and celebrate when their students experience success. They also provide comfort and perspective when students experience challenges. The bonds between students and their teacher-mentors can be very powerful. As Harry Wong has written, "Students won't care how much you know until they know how much you care."
A FOCUS UPON INTRINSIC MOTIVATION. Outstanding teachers strive to tap into their students' innate curiosity and desire to understand the world. They provide a classroom environment that is challenging and highly engaging, that explores meaningful questions, that elicits ethical reflection, that connects to students' own lives and passions. They understand that learning can and should be a thrilling process: confounding at times, frustrating at times, but also incredibly charged and illuminating and fulfilling. The finest teachers draw upon and foster their students' intrinsic motivation rather than relying upon extrinsic rewards and punishments to induce learning.
A PASSION FOR LIFELONG LEARNING. Outstanding teachers recognize that they, too, are learners. They read widely and enjoy the opportunity to share ideas with their colleagues, always seeking new understandings and new paths to student success.
A GIFT FOR TRANSFORMING LIVES. Above all, outstanding teachers remain steadfastly focused upon their central mission: to inspire, challenge, support, and nurture students as they learn and grow. Beyond having a mastery of the "science" of teaching, good teachers must love kids, pure and simple, and have a true passion for helping students to learn. When knowledge, skill, and passion intersect, the finest teachers can truly transform students' lives.