Shattering Perfect Teacher Myths

Aaron Hogan on episode 181 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Aaron Hogan shatters myths about teaching. Empower yourself as a teacher with the knowledge you do not have to be perfect. Learn how to build collegiality and support other teachers.

Today’s Sponsor: WriQ from Texthelp is a new FREE Add-on for Google Docs that helps teachers easily assess student writing and track progress over time by automatically scoring students’ spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors. It also incorporates rubrics so teachers can provide meaningful, qualitative feedback to encourage the writing journey.
This handy free Google Docs add-on tracks things like: time spent writing, spelling-grammar-and punctuation error rates and pulls it into a clear graphical view in your teacher dashboard. To learn more about Wriq go to

Listen Now


Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure.  For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.


Enhanced Transcript

Shattering Perfect Teacher Myths

Vicki: Today we’re talking to Aaron Hogan @aaron_hogan about shattering the “Perfect Teacher Myth.” He has a book of the same name that we’ll be sharing in the show notes.

So Aaron, you know, as a teacher… You know, sometimes I feel like I have to apologize. People will walk in my room, and everybody’s going crazy. We’re learning! But it doesn’t look like what we think we’re supposed to look like. Why are we as teachers so uptight? Why do we feel like we have to be perfect?

Aaron: Right. So I think that first — you’re not alone. I’ve run across several people who’ve had that feeling. I think teaching is is one of those professions that is unique in a lot of ways. One of those unique qualities about teaching is that you’re the only adult in that room, making the magic happen while you’re in there. So it’s hard to know what’s going on on the other side of those walls. I worked in a building with brick walls, and those brick walls are pretty thick.

It’s hard to know what’s going on on the other side and so when something happens that maybe has been explained to you as kind of a quick fix, “Hey, just do these things, and the kids will do this in response.” When it doesn’t work, then you feel like, “I must be the variable in the room, right? It must be me that’s leading to this not going the way that I would hope.”

And I think that’s not true but I think that almost every educator has had that feeling, that, ”You know, some things aren’t going right. It must be that I’m the problem in this situation.”

And wouldn’t you agree — I mean I’ve been teaching six years — and every year has its own unique problems.

Aaron: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Vicki: I mean, we don’t arrive at perfection, do we?

Aaron: No. No. Never. I think it’s one of the things that keeps it really fun — that there’s always something new there for in the classroom.

Even though those things worked great last year, you get to figure out, “OK. It’s going to work great for these kids this year, but maybe not for for this group.”

And then you’ve got that new challenge of, “How am I going to reach that next group? What am I going to do to take care of them and to meet their needs? How is that going to build that arsenal of ways to really reach kids the way that we want our own kids to be reached in their classrooms?”

Vicki: So, how do we shatter the “perfect teacher myth”?

Tip to Shatter the Teacher Myth #1: Know the Myths

Aaron: OK, so the first thing, I think we’ve got to know what the myths are before we get out there to shatter them. And I think even before that, know that there are these myths that are taking over.

When these myths start to creep in, they make teachers feel like it’s time to lose all their self confidence. It makes teachers feel like a failure, when really it’s a measurement that no one could actually stand up to.

Myth: Do this and then kids behave

It’s things like, you know, that feeling of, “If I do these sorts of things, then all the kids will behave.”

Myth: Buckle Down, I can do it alone

Or, “if I just just buckle down, then I can do all these things on my own.” Then that’s some level of perfection.

But those things aren’t true.

The reality is that when we go in and we realize that maybe those behavior expectations need to be taught. And they’re going to be forgotten, just like other things — the academic content that people might forget.

We realize that, and then we have a different sort of standard to live up to. It’s just that we need to be responsible and teach those expectations.

It’s the same thing with that isolation. When we realize, “I can’t do all of these things on my own. I’m so much better when I lean on the other people who need me just as much as I need them.”

When we work in collaboration with other people, we can reject that isolation that makes us feel like we are the only one who’s going through these sorts of circumstances.

Vicki: We are not alone. I think it’s important to learn that.

Aaron: Ah, but it can feel that way.

Vicki: Goodness knows it can. Because you know that when you close the door, it’s you and them, you know?

Aaron: Right.

Vicki: So what other myths — you’ve talked about two or three now — what other myths do you think can paralyze us as teachers or even make us want to quit?

Aaron: Sure. I think there’s a couple that I want to hit on here.

Myth: You have to be perfect.

One is this idea of value in vulnerability. That, for me for a long time, and even now I have to fight against valuing that that idea of looking like it I have it all together.

And really, when I can get past that, when I get to that point where I can say, “You know what? I don’t have it all together. I’ve worked on some things. I know some things, but I have a lot to learn. What can I learn?”

It opens you up to the space where you can learn from someone else. And they feel like they can learn from you — because you’re not the person who just has it all together. It’s a “We’re in this together learning from one another.”

Let’s be kind to beginning teachers

Vicki: I know somebody who is coming in from the business world who is teaching. And you know, some people can be very impatient with beginners. It’s I don’t know why we expect people who are beginning teachers to have it all together and have all their classroom management. But I kind of think that sometimes those of us who are a little more veteran might not be fair to beginners.

Myth: We have to learn how to teach on our own – we don’t learn from other teachers

Aaron: I think so. Some of that, it may be a sense of, “f I had to work through it on my own, then other people might need to also.” But I think that’s flawed thinking.

If we are people who’ve had to work through those things on our own, we need to pay it forward to those teachers who are working through through now. Say, “Hey, when I was a first year teacher, these are all the ways that I blew it. Or I felt like I blew it, at least, in front of my students.”

Realize that others struggle too

Any time we can open up ourselves to that powerful response of “Me, too,” where somebody else can realize that, “Hey, this other person from down the hall, during the passing period, it looked like she has it all together. But really, she’s been through the same sorts of struggles I have.”

We want that community of learners for our kids. That brings us together. We can extend empathy to others. That brings us together as a staff in a way that’s just really powerful.

That’s when we can see some transformation, moving forward, and people believing the right things about themselves.

Vicki: So What’s another myth?

Myth: You have to be monumental to change lives

Aaron: One of the other myths is that it takes a huge, monumental-like, life-changing act to be one of those memorable teachers for kids. What I really believe is that it’s those everyday things that make a kid remember teacher for a lifetime.

All it takes is being that person who’s consistently there, giving somebody a high five, giving somebody a fist bump, even just at that smile every day in the hallway. Those are the things that end up making a really big impact for a long time. We can still have those big impressive things that people will remember, “Oh, that one day…”

But students, I think, are much more likely to remember the impact that you made over 180 days, rather than over one or two really impactful days.

Vicki: Well, I’m thinking back on Tuesday. We showed this movie. We kind of have them Chapel time at my school on Tuesdays, and I had a student who kind of sits behind the screen.

I said, “don’t you need to need to come in front of the screen?

And he said, “No, I watch your laptop.”

Well, I took the laptop and just pointed it at him and just kind of nodded.

He nodded back at me.

But the look on his face was, “You didn’t get on to me for sitting behind the screen. You noticed that this is kind of where I want to sit because I kind of want to be by myself and be over here. and you just turned your laptop so I can see it better. And that was thoughtful.”

Because you’re right. Sometimes, it’s the little bitty, ordinary things and noticing somebody that makes all the difference.

Aaron: Right. I had a student once — I came back from being out. I was just out doing some district training, and I came back to school the next day.

She said, “Mr. Hogan, I was having a bad day yesterday, and you weren’t here, and you always notice, and it made me sad that you weren’t here.” a

And I still don’t know what I did on the front end, but that’s the outcome that we want. I like it that I don’t even know what I did it’s just, “Be there in those everyday moments to really engage with kids. That leaves a lasting impact.”

Vicki: If you have to pick one big myth that you haven’t mentioned yet that you think could be life-changing if we busted, what would it be?

Myth: That someone can tell us what to do to make us a great teacher

Aaron: This idea that we can imagine better for our kids. I think the myth, sometimes, is that the best teachers excel at by meeting those existing expectations. “Just tell me what I need to do and I’ll do it well. I’ll do better than everybody else, and that will make me successful.”

But I love this idea that JK Rowling shared. She says, “We don’t need magic to change the world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already. We have the power to imagine better.”

And that idea of looking past what we’ve always done, looking past what the status quo has been, looking past what maybe even expected of us… and trying to figure out how we can do the best for our kids — not in like an “I’m going to work my myself for 80 hours a week and exhaust myself,” way, but, “Just with what I have to give, how can I do the absolute best for those that I serve?”

That’s really important to me that we’re not thinking through change for change sake, but just thinking about what is the best experience that we can provide for students if you’re a classroom teacher, or for your staff if you’re that campus leader. What’s what can we do to imagine better for those who we serve.

Vicki: Teachers, as we finish up — I’ll we will link to Aaron’s book in the show notes — but I just wanted to give you a, “Me, too.”

You know, I have bad days. “Me, too.”

You know we all struggle.”Me, too.”

We all sometimes feel like, “Why are we doing this, and are we even important?” That’s a ”Me, too.”

These are things that we feel as teachers. We struggle. We have hard days. We mess up. But I will tell you this — there are those moments where you realize that we’re doing something that is really, I would say, one of the most special impactful professions on the entire planet and I would say, ”Me, too.”

Aaron: Absolutely.

Vicki: I’m making a difference too, just like you, Aaron.

Aaron: There you go. That’s what it’s all about, finding those ways to connect with kids and do what’s best for them.

Bio as submitted

Aaron is a husband, dad, educator, blogger, speaker, and author. His recently published book, Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth: 6 Truths That Will Help You THRIVE as an Educator, highlights a few myths that many teachers don’t even realize are there and replaces each myth with a truth that will help teachers get out of survival mode at school.

Blog: Aaron Hogan

Twitter: @aaron_hogan

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.) This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post Shattering Perfect Teacher Myths appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog

5 Ways to Be an Unforgettable Teacher

Chuck Poole on episode 180 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Chuck Poole shares five ways to be an unforgettable teacher or an unforgettable coach. He also gives us links to some free cards he shares with students and parents. Get inspired with some fantastic advice on reaching students.

Today’s Sponsor: GradeCam can save you time! Quickly create assessments for any grade or subject without special forms or equipment. Instantly scan and score with any mobile, desktop or document camera. Automatically transfer grades into any digital grade book. Find more time for teaching and living. Sign up for a 60-day free trial at and save time!

Listen Now


Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.


Enhanced Transcript

Five Ways to Be an Unforgettable Teacher

Date: Friday, October 27, 2017

Vicki: Today we’re talking with Chuck Poole @cpoole27 of the Teachonomy blog and podcast about five ways to be an unforgettable teacher.

So, Chuck, what is our first way?

Chuck: Well, our first way — because you know on Teachonomy I like to say, “Be the teacher they never forget.”

I love talking about this especially to help inspire teachers.

Unforgettable Teacher Tip #1: Start with a Relationship

The first way, I think, is probably the most important that we’ll even talk about. I want to start with it, and it’s relationship.

I believe that there’s a big difference between having a relationship with someone where you know maybe we say hello or or we have small talk, and then nurturing one that we actually care about. I think that it’s in creating those genuine relationships that you become unforgettable.

Vicki: So, how are some ways you nurture those relationships?

Chuck: Whether you’re investing in your students, or your colleagues, or even people at home, I think that the key is simple. I think that you hit on this a lot on your site just from experiencing it. I think that the key to it is we need to let people know that they matter.

Vicki: (agrees)

Chuck: And then our relationship will grow as we build trust. But I think one problem that people have is that they don’t know where to begin. So one thing that I would recommend and one thing that I think is very tangible — it’s what I do, and I have found that it’s an easy way to break the ice and begin nurturing a relationship — is through simple notes. So regardless if you’re super outgoing or extremely shy, these notes can kind of serve as a bridge to help build a relationship.

What I do is I actually have two sets of encouraging note cards. I actually had a designer create them. I like to print them, and I keep a stack of them on my desk. So I have one stack that was designed specifically to encourage teachers and one that’s for students and parents and everyone else.

And what I do is, I will literally take one — and they have inspirational quotes and things like that on them — and I will turn it over and hand write the note. I’ll drop it in the colleague’s mailbox, or in the student’s notebook, or even give it to parents during parent-teacher conferences. I find that it’s opened doors to relationships that I would never have otherwise had.

Vicki: Now you’ve got these. We’re going to add it to the show notes, so that the listeners can download, too, right?

Chuck: Yeah so I have them on Teachonomy, but I’ll give you the links for both sets of those, so that way people can download them and share them with their colleagues and their students. I find that they are just really accepted well. People always smile when they have a personalized note from someone. One thing that I did find — just to wrap up this particular idea — is that these notes have given me the opportunity to build relationships in a way, where I’ve gone from the person that someone is smiling at, to the reason why they’re smiling. I think that there’s a big difference.

Vicki: Ohhhh. I love that! OK, what’s our second?

Unforgettable Teacher Tip #2: Be the Coach in the Classroom

Chuck: Our second one is to be the coach in the classroom. Now this one hits home with me because I’ve actually been a coach for over 20 years — in athletics and in sports.

One thing that I’ve learned is that in order for my team to be successful, I need them to know three things:

  1. They need to know that they can trust what I say.
  2. They need to know that I believe in them.
  3. They need to know what their goals are, and that I am someone who could help them achieve them.

So when they have these three pieces of knowledge, I’ve had successful teams, and I’ve become a coach that they remember.

So in order to be a coach in the classroom, I think that we can grasp those concepts and put them into our classrooms. I think before students can learn from us, and before we become unforgettable in their minds, they have to know these three things; they have to know that they can trust you, they have to know they that you believe in them, and they have to know that you can help guide them toward accomplishing their goals.

Vicki: I love it.

Chuck: Once they know those three things, then you can truly coach them and guide them and really become unforgettable.

Vicki: Awesome. What’s our third?

Unforgettable Teacher Tip #3: Face Your Fears

Chuck: The third one is to face your fears. I’m a firm believer that no one ever moves forward in life by standing still. I think in order to be an unforgettable teacher, you have to be willing to get rid of the excuses that kind of get us stuck. We have to be willing to take the risks that scare us in order to move forward.

And this is cool, Vicki. I read a statistic the other day, that said in our world today our knowledge doubles every three months. so that means that today, we know double what we knew just three months ago.

I think as a teacher, that kind of tells us that we need to be willing to embrace change. In order to stand out from the crowd — and change tends to be something that we often fear because we fear that with that change comes failure.

Vicki: (agrees)

Chuck: I think one way to face that fear is to look at failure a little bit differently. I think if we were to change how we look at it. Instead of looking at failure is something that we did wrong, or we couldn’t accomplish, but we look at it rather as something we needed in order to learn and move forward, I think we would be able to face those fears and embrace change a little bit differently. Once we embrace that change and we face those fears, we begin to eliminate the excuses that once got us stuck, and we help students become even better than we thought possible, even if it scares us to death.

Vicki: Yeah. Once I heard an acronym for FEAR. False Evidence Appearing Real. That is so true many times. So what’s our fourth?

Chuck: Yeah I agree that is awesome, that acronym, actually.

Unforgettable Teacher Tip #4: Exceed Expectations

The fourth one is to exceed expectations. Now, great teachers, I think always exceed expectations, and I think most people that are listening to this probably would fall into that category.

I find that a story that was once told to me kind of transformed the way I look at how I teach. I just want to share that, because I have a friend and a mentor that’s outside of teaching so it’s not someone that is a teacher. But they told me a story once to kind of explain a point about his daughter.

He told me that when his daughter was younger, she loved to play games on his iPhone, just like any kids would. She would constantly ask for time to play, and he would oblige and say,”Yeah, sure. That’s fine.”

But there was one time that she came in, and she asked him if she could play on his iPhone, and he said no. So she walked away and she was kind of sad. He said he stopped her, and he said, “No, just wait one second.” He reached in his bag and he pulled out his iPad. And he said, “You can’t play on my iPhone, but you can play on my iPad.”

He was saying that you know, from a loving father he wanted to give her much more than she expected.

I think as teachers, we should strive to give our students an iPad experience when they’re expecting an iPhone.

Vicki: I love that! OK, what’s our fifth?

Unforgettable Teacher Tip #5: Be Quiet

Chuck: Our fifth is to simply be quiet.

Vicki: Ohhhh, that’s hard!

Chuck: What I mean by that is that think that teachers should really never be the loudest person in the room — which we’ve heard that the people doing the learning should be the ones doing the talking, which is something that I heard in a conversation as well. I think that we all understand that the importance of collaboration and discussion is crucial. But to be unforgettable, I think we need to be quiet in a different way.

Here’s what I mean. One thing that I did this year — and I found it to be a game-changer — was I implemented a weekly meeting. Literally, what I did was I took one class period. I took it out of the curriculum, and everything. It was on Fridays, and every Friday we have one class period that was dedicated to having an in-house meeting with my classes. I teach middle school, so I have multiple classes.

What we would do is each week with each class, we focus on three things.

1 – Evaluate me as a teacher

The first thing I told him was probably one of the most important, and that was where they had to evaluate me as a teacher. They have to tell me what I did well, what I did poorly, what I can improve on. I gave them that voice to kind of give me the criticism that I would need in order to help me get better.

2 – Class meeting about learning

Second, I told them the concepts that we be focusing on the next week, and together we would brainstorm how they wanted to learn them. So then it was my job to kind of develop the unit or lessons around it with it how they themselves learned.

3 – Plan together

Then third, we’d literally plan together. We would work out things like rubrics or strategies or things like that together so they had a full understanding of the expectations. They knew the expectations going into the following week, and they essentially helped create them. It gave them ownership of their learning.

I found that even with boring materials, they were more engaged after implementing these meetings than they ever had been. So I think, you know, when we take the time to be quiet and listen carefully, and we give our students that chance to give input, we become just unforgettable.

Vicki: Oh, I love that! Like, I’m so doing that, Chuck!

Chuck: (laughs)

Vicki: I’m sitting here thinking about, you know, the greatest PD for me is very often podcasts, blog posts, but even when educators who care share… So when you talk to somebody like you, and you have these amazing ideas, it transforms us.

I’m so excited about striving to be unforgettable. Thank you!

Chuck: Oh, you’re welcome!

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Bio as submitted

Chuck is a teacher, a coach and the visionary behind Teachonomy ( He is the host of the Teachonomy Talks podcast (, and blogs weekly on topics that encourage, equip, and empower teachers and leaders around the globe. Chuck has been teaching for over 15 years and believes that those who teach and lead have the unique opportunity to live life out loud and become the champions of those they serve. Chuck lives in New Jersey with his wife and enjoys mentoring others, creating laughter in the classroom, and the continued pursuit of his next adventure.


Twitter: @cpoole27

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.) This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post 5 Ways to Be an Unforgettable Teacher appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog