This is What Great Teaching Looks Like

There’s a lot of talk nationally about the importance of teachers, and the need to identify what great teaching actually looks like — and requires.

Our search should start and end with people like Kathy Clunis D’Andrea.

A veteran educator at the Mission Hill School in Boston, Kathy epitomizes everything that’s good about the profession — and everything the rest of us need to pay closer attention to if we want to support a better, more holistic vision of American public education.

It starts with her three-part recipe for success: Love, Limits & Laughter. It succeeds because of her recognition that what matters most is equipping young people with an essential set of skills and habits that will guide them through life. And it endures because of her school’s commitment to create an environment that is consistent across classrooms, and grounded in shared values of trust, equity, and empathy.

See for yourself. And spread the word.

(This post also appeared on Start Empathy.)

Categories: Learning, Teacher Quality

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  1. Posted October 17, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Hi Sam,

    I visited Mission Hill K-8 School and wrote about it in a book that I wrote with my colleagues called Trusting Teachers with School Success: What Happens When Teachers Call the Shots.

    Mission Hill teachers have the authority to collectively make a lot of the decisions influencing school success. The school’s governing board has the authority to do this via its pilot school agreement with Boston Public Schools and the board transfers that authority to the teachers in the school.

    I am not suggesting this can’t be done in schools where teachers don’t have such authority — it can. Yet the arrangement for autonomy, and moreover the culture and conditions for learning (both among teachers and students) that the teachers at Mission Hill K-8 School create with the autonomy, are likely playing a role here.

    What’s coming to mind right now, for example, is how the teachers at Mission Hill designed their professional development. Teachers set their own goals and co-pick a team of teachers to mentor them and help nurture them, and hold them accountable for, achieving those goals. Can’t help but wonder if Kathy’s Love, Limits, and Laughter approach emerged from that process… And if her ability to keep at it is because her approach is valued across the school by the teachers that lead the school with her.

  2. Posted October 20, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Kim! So great to hear from you — and I’m ordering your book now. Did you know we’re producing a 10-part series about MH that will air beginning this January? I think when we do, we need to have you answering questions and live tweeting so people can learn more about your book and your insights. If you’re game, email me at

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