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Never Work Harder Than Your Students and Other Principles of Great Teaching Paperback – January 30, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-1416607571 ISBN-10: 1416607579 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development; 1 edition (January 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416607579
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416607571
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,306 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robyn Jackson believes that any teacher can become a master teacher with the right kind of support and practice. She's dedicated her career to becoming a master teacher herself and helping others do the same. A former high school English teacher and middle school administrator, Dr. Jackson is the author of nine books including the best-selling Never Work Harder Than Your Students and the award-winning Never Underestimate Your Teachers. Her latest book, You Can Do This, helps beginning teachers find their own teacher voice and their own individual path towards masterful teaching. Dr. Jackson currently is the founder and CEO of Mindsteps Inc. (http://www.mindstepsinc.com) a professional development firm that helps educators understand the principles of effective teaching and instructional leadership so that they can make the difference they've always wanted to make in the lives of their students and in their own lives as well.

Customer Reviews

It helps you reflect on your current practice and think about how you can make it better.
Jessica Heckler
It is not about non-achieving students doing well if only the teacher forces himself/herself to blindly believe that they can do well.
Jan Peczkis
Reading teaching books by those who are master teachers makes me feel like I am pedagogical booty.
Ron Coia

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

106 of 108 people found the following review helpful By L. B. Welsh on January 25, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm a 7th grade Social Studies teacher (with 16 years of HS and MS experience) and curriculum geek who was intrigued by the title. However, that is only one of seven principles of "master teaching" delineated in the book. Several times I found myself facing ideas that I've been resistant to in the past, but Jackson makes a compelling case for each of the principles and the steps to incorporate them into classroom practice. Her focus is consistently on student achievement in humanizing, empowering ways for students, teachers, and (to a much lesser extent) parents. The book is not touchy-feely (one segment describes dealing with the "brutal facts" of some of the constraints we face), but quite practically inspirational. In truth, "Never Work Harder..." verbalized a lot of what I've been looking for to guide my teaching in the future. I've differentiated, used multiple intelligences, incorporated RTI, along with many other strategies and protocols - this book helps me see the big picture that brings these together in a much more effective way.
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80 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Ken C. TOP 1000 REVIEWER on August 18, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
With its beguiling title, NEVER WORK HARDER THAN YOUR STUDENTS & OTHER PRINCIPLES OF GREAT TEACHING will certainly attract the eye. The good news? The book is a lot more than just a catchy title. It's a well-grounded argument for seven principles teachers should all adopt to help their students learn. It also draws pieces from a lot of the disparate research we've seen in other tomes: Marzano's and Wiggins', to name two of the more well known. Yet much of it remains her own, and her voice is both confident and distinct.

Robyn Jackson breaks her book down into seven principles that -- with time, patience, and practice -- can make any teacher a master teacher (she contends they are made, not born, thank God). They are:

1. Start Where Your Students Are
2. Know Where Your Students Are Going
3. Expect to Get Your Students There
4. Support Your Students
5. Use Effective Feedback
6. Focus on Quality, Not Quantity
7. Never Work Harder Than Your Students

As you can see, Jackson saves the best for last. Still, among these seemingly obvious principles, there's more than just a little controversy. What I liked best was how Jackson relates her experiences presenting this very material at professional development sessions. Better yet, she shares anecdotes of some of her toughest audiences (e.g. veteran high school teachers) who met her presentation with rolling eyes, crossed arms, and at times open derision. Jackson turned off her overhead and politely went toe-to-toe with them by opening the floor to their objections and concerns. The transcript is eye-opening, and there's more than one instance of such Doubting Thomas Moments included in the text.
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93 of 106 people found the following review helpful By Ron Coia VINE VOICE on March 13, 2010
Format: Paperback
I'll be honest here--I am not a good teacher.

The longer I teach, the more that I think this is true. It's not that I don't try or don't care. Instead, I think that I am not effective. Entertaining, perhaps, but not effective. Every once in a while, I'll read a book on how to be a better English teacher, and these books make me feel worse about my chosen career. Teaching books work opposite as teaching movies do. After I watch Dead Poets Society or Freedom Writers, I feel invigorated to go back into the classroom to kick some pedagogical booty. Reading teaching books by those who are master teachers makes me feel like I am pedagogical booty. See the difference?

Knowing that most of you reading this are not teachers, I won't bore you with Robyn Jackson's methods in detail. Her main thrust is that becoming a master teacher is something that can be attained with seven principals ("Use Effective Feedback" and "Start Where Your Students Are" are two of the seven). Jackson takes teachers through the changing of a teaching mindset, rather than merely adding activities or procedures to our already overflowing toolbox. Her focus is pairing down our classrooms and activities to only essential ones and do those well. I liked this idea, and it can help me. I have noticed that at times, I'm seeking ways to fill a class with interesting activities, but they may not go where I want them to in meeting core objectives in reading and writing. I have already started to think more about why I do the things I do in class, and I have contemplated places to trim the fat.

Jackson also encourages ways to support students, and I need improvement in this area. I liked her idea of not letting kids off the hook by simply giving them a zero for a missing assignment.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Sylvia on February 11, 2013
Format: Paperback
The premise of this book is awesome: anyone can become a Master Teacher--that is, an effective, inspiring, confident teacher--by following basic philosophical principles and being self-reflective. Great! Show me how, little brown book!

Unfortunately, despite the neatly numbered principles, I find the advice and philosophy espoused in this book are often contradictory. On one hand, the author praises the value of activities that, while they don't precisely correspond to the standards, work toward other essential goals: forming a learning community, establishing "soft" skills, and aiming toward higher-level understanding of the subject.

On the other hand, she consistently divides "need-to-knows" (to master the standards) from "nice-to-knows" (enjoyable, meaningful, other activities) and encourages teachers to minimize the latter. She begins her year planning with unpacking the standards, and never seems to go beyond this itemized list of facts and skills. In a disappointing example, she explains how having students read a plot summary of a play is sufficient to teach them how to describe a plot (the standard) while reading the whole play is indulgent.

In another moment of doublethink, Jackson offers a half-dozen conversations with teachers about the tired advice "High expectations lead to high performance." She claims to understand their frustration with the "brutal realities" of their situation--for instance, an Algebra class full of students who cannot add and subtract. Then, Jackson explains that high expectations means holding yourself, the teacher, to the highest standard and believing that you can do anything, including remedying students' issues and providing them everything they need to come up to grade level. This was interesting, albeit delusional.
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