Perhaps only second to the lessons I have learned from my students, are the lessons I have learned from my fellow educators. When I think on the amazing people that have impacted me, I realize that there are some common traits, inherent virtues in the best and brightest friends.
1. Curiosity. The most effective teachers are terribly curious. They seek to understand and be inspired by the world around us and within us. They are highly susceptible to fits of awe and wonder. They never stop asking questions and more so, inspire others to do the same.
2. Reflection. Great teachers' curiosity drives them to grow their practice with practice. For our very best teachers, every lesson taught is a lesson learned. They think about the decisions they make, the results, and how to improve. They challenge their own thinking and revise it based on evidence of impact. They accept that sometimes they don't know what they don't know until they know it. And then they do.
3. Discipline. Teachers work their magic continuously. They do the work every minute of every day. This takes focus and discipline to keep what matters - student learning - as the anchor in a sometimes tumultuous sea. They keep the thing the thing.
4. Empathy. Good teachers are compassionate - they care for the children and their happiness. Great teachers are empathic - they care for the students and their well-being. This might seem a bit of a fine line, and it is. But great teachers value every students' contribution today and potential for tomorrow.
5. Optimism. Great teachers are insatiably optimistic. They believe in the potential of their students, they believe in the potential of their schools, they believe in the potential of their cities or villages or towns. Teachers are called to teach by their belief that students are community builders and problem solvers and that their potential to do Good doesn't start at graduation.
Thinking on this - admittedly incomplete - list, it strikes me how none of these virtues come easy. They come with hard work, with inspiration from friends, with committing to practice these virtues even when the work gets tough. But great teachers do. And that's what makes them great humans.
Thanks from me to all the teachers who teach me how to be a better human.