What Great Teachers Do Differently
Course Outline

Course Fee: $90
Course Numbers: EED x701 24098, SED x701 24143
Standard Course Time: 15 hours
Semester Credits: One (1) academic credit at the post-baccalaureate level (available for an additional fee)
Credit Issued by: Cal Poly Humboldt (refer to our Graduate Credit page for credit pricing and details)
Subject Area: Special Topics
Author: Todd Whitaker, Ph.D.

Introduction/Course Description:

Any teacher can fill a bookshelf with books about education. Any teacher can study lists of guidelines, standards, principles, and theories. The best teachers and the worst teachers can ace exams in their undergraduate and graduate classes. The difference between more effective teachers and their less effective colleagues is not what they know. It is what they do. This course is about what great teachers do that sets them apart. Clarifying what the best educators do, and then practicing it ourselves, can move us into their ranks.

Course Objectives/Program Outline

This course is broken into major parts called modules. Each module contains content sections. Within each section, we cover one or more of the outlined learning objectives for the module. At the end of each module, there is a quiz. Some modules include a project. The breakdown for modules within this course is as follows:

Module One: Teacher as the Responsible Party

Learning Objectives:

  • Observe and analyze the struggle with your own self-awareness, ultimately redefining your own self perception.
  • Define the primary criterion when looking at program adoptions.
  • Understand what the variable is in terms of teacher expectations.
  • Define your high expectations for students and yourself.
  • Assess why successful teachers insist on focusing on their own behavior rather than the behavior of others.
  • Examine your own acceptance of responsibility as related to teacher efficacy.

Project 1: What Defines a Great Teacher?
Quiz: Multiple-choice questions that pertain to objectives above.

Module Two: Keep it Positive

Learning Objectives:

  • Assess what you have the ability to influence.
  • Describe variables that separate effective classroom managers from ineffective classroom managers.
  • Define the five necessary components of effective praise and measure the power of praise.
  • Evaluate the purpose of teachers serving as filters at the schools in which they teach, and discriminate issues that matter.

Project 2: Teacher, Parent and Child
Quiz: Multiple-choice questions that pertain to objectives above.

Module Three-Making Effective Change

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the importance of ignoring minor errors.
  • Formulate a more powerful deterrent to misbehavior than a list of predetermined rules and consequences.
  • Clarify "purpose" in order to head in a more productive direction.

Project 3: The Challenge of Classroom Management
Quiz: Multiple-choice questions that pertain to objectives above.

Module Four-What is Best for the Students

Learning Objectives:

  • Explore personal views related to student motivation, morale, classroom culture and climate. Identify behaviors that lead to success.
  • Describe the framework that sustains the work of all great educators.
  • Decide what personal core beliefs will drive your teaching.

Project 4: What Matters Most
Quiz: Multiple-choice questions that pertain to objectives above.

Final Exam

multiple choice questions taken from each module

Final Learning Statement

Learning statements should be in a narrative format – as opposed to an outline format. Depending on individual writing styles Learning statements should be 2-3 pages. The learning statement can vary according to individual style. Your learning statement should answer the broad question of "what did you learn?". To help get you thinking, here are some suggested questions:

  • What are the major concepts of the course that you have learned?
  • What new professional language have you acquired relating to the topic?
  • What teaching techniques for implementing new strategies in the classroom did you come away with?
  • Thinking back to your project reflections, were you surprised at the outcomes?
  • What new resources did you find in the study of the content?
  • As an educator, what new concepts will you now integrate into your teaching?
  • Are there any ideas that presented themselves as enlightening and useful?

--- Sample Course Project ---

Project #1 Overview

The difference between a good teacher and a great teacher is rooted in the teacher's ability to accurately self reflect with an emphasis on fine tuning high expectations for him/herself. For this project:

  • Write down as many names of teachers you had in your years in school, a fellow teacher you have worked with, or a peer that you admire and respect as an outstanding teacher.
  • From this group, identify and label characteristics for each teacher that made them great.
For Your Project Reflection Submission

Now that you have had some time to look at your list and identify the various characteristics of each teacher:

  • Share some of the fundamental differences between the good teachers and the great teachers as a whole that you have identified.
  • Be sure to pinpoint specific traits that distinguish your experience between the good and the great teachers.

Visit the "Module Projects" section located within the Course Dashboard, and take a moment to share your findings by submitting your project reflection.

Cal Poly Humboldt Credit Specifics

  • Academic Credit at the Graduate Level through Cal Poly Humboldt (CPH) is offered after successful completion of this course.
  • The 700 series semester credit is post-baccalaureate level appropriate for credentialed teachers which do not require admission to a graduate program.
  • 700-level classes are graduate level classes meant specifically for credential purposes, and are appropriate for license renewal or recertification.
  • Courses are letter graded on official transcripts from CPH.
  • CPH is the northernmost and westernmost institution in the 23-campus California State University (CSU) system.
  • CPH is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), a regional accrediting agency serving a diverse membership of public and private higher education institutions.

Summer Option

If you are not currently teaching (ie. Summer break, you are a substitute teacher, etc.), each class offers you the ability to complete coursework independent of a classroom assignment.