What kind of educator are you?


By Michele Hill and Paul J. Berardelli

Twitter is the home for hundreds of educational chats each week. Some of us lurk, while many of us actively participate in thought-provoking chats. Whichever camp you fall into, there is one thing that is certain, there is a plethora of ideas, resources, inspirational tweets and eye-catching graphics. But sometimes, there are “Ah Ha” moments when you stop everything that you are doing, and pause to think deeply. The discussion that happens from such moments like these are often an inspiration for our column; that’s the power of being a connected educator.

Recently #edugladiators hosted a Twitter chat on the topic of #BeTheOne moderated by Ryan Sheehy. The second question posed was two-fold, “What type of educator did you need as a student?” and “How has that shaped you into the educator that you are today?” The question itself did not spark the “Ah Ha” moment, but surely the responses of people participating in the chat most certainly did! The responses were so varied, but yet shared a common thread of students needing educators who cared greatly. Students want to be seen, valued, pushed, protected, coached, celebrated, empowered, and unconditionally loved! What did you need your teachers to be? –and what kind of educator are you for your students? Your answer matters, because it likely shaped you into the educator that you are today. So, are you the educator you needed when you were a student?


Most students naturally crave structure and firm boundaries, but many are not great at self-monitoring. These types of students need educators who will hold them accountable in a loving way. Kim Griesbach tweeted “I needed teachers who could help me stay focused and on track despite some chaos in my life outside of school. I needed teachers who believed in me!” Are you the educator that ensures that students have routines that help them to feel safe in school and stay on track to achieve success?


The best coaches know a thing or two about getting the maximum results from their athletes. They walk a fine line of pushing their players to their absolute best without breaking them down. They understand, when and how to apply pressure for outstanding performance and recognize the power of positive feedback. Great educators do exactly this; they push students outside of their comfort zones to reach maximum performance in the classroom and celebrate their accomplishments.  Cristina C. Dajero tweeted “I needed a teacher that helped me come out of my shell and gain the confidence needed to overcome obstacles & challenges and learn that failure was not the end, but an opportunity to try again. Are you the one who challenges your students to see obstacles and failure as an opportunity to start over?

Are you the one who ensures that our students have access to all of the resources and things that they need to be healthy and successful in school and in life?


Let’s face it, some of our students are shy or they lack the confidence to speak up for themselves. Many go unnoticed, and their physical or social/emotional needs are not being met. They are the ones that fall through the cracks.  Tonya tweeted that she needed “Someone who understood how sensitive I was and how my feelings got hurt easily when I was little”. Are you the one who ensures that our students have access to all of the resources and things that they need to be healthy and successful in school and in life? Do you go to bat for them and challenge others when necessary?


Students need to feel empowered in their lives–and in their learning. Great educators recognize the power of student voice and the importance of student-led learning of themselves and others. Erin Forbes said “She saw the leader in me and empowered me to take charge, had incredibly high standards & required deep independent thought”. Are you the educator who is brave enough to step aside and harness the power of student-led learning?

Passionate Educator

They say you can’t fake the funk – and students surely know when you are doing just that. Students know which educators relish in their job, and which ones are just going through the motions. Jennifer Eyre tweeted “I needed an educator who loved their job and kids”.  Are you the educator that students can sense that you love what you do? If not, maybe it’s time to make a career change.

Relentless Educator

This word can conjure up some negative connotations, but being a relentless educator is an admirable quality. Students need someone who will never give up on them, even when they make some pretty big mistakes!  Dennis Griffith said “ I needed an educator that saw my potential and would be relentless in challenging me to defy the stereotypes that I would confront later in life” Are you the educator who looks for the silver lining and helps students navigate the tough tough times, all-the-while NEVER giving up on them? They know who you are!


Great educators cheer on students everyday, all day! It’s no secret that people respond to positive affirmation. Some of our students never hear words of affirmation outside of school, and therefore lack the confidence to try new things or participate in sports or school activities.  Barbara Page said “he saw me finishing the race in first place before I even knew I was in the race” Students make great connections to those educators who acknowledge their success in the classroom, but they really love it when you show up at extra-curricular events and activities and cheer them on. That’s what great educators do everyday; we build champions!


Educators just have a bag of tricks! Students have different learning styles coupled with diverse backgrounds that can make reaching ALL student difficult. Great educators have a magic bag that is filled with resources and strategies mixed with an amazing intuition of what each students needs to be successful. Tika Epstein tweeted “I needed someone who was patient & motivating. I needed multiple strategies to learn math especially!” Are you the educator who develops a rapport with your students and understand the dynamics of his/her learning style?

If you are like us, you probably recognize yourself in more than one of these educators–and you should! Each of our students come to school with different needs and diverse backgrounds that a “one-size fits all” type of educator just will not do. The best educators are flexible and adaptive to the needs of their students, while at their core, they are their true selves; they instinctively know what to do. Whatever kind of educator you are, if you are genuine and passionate–and you put the best interests of your students first, you surely will #BeTheOne. They can feel it!

You can follow the #edugladiator Twitter chat on Saturday mornings 8am/CT 9am/ET

Paul J. Berardelli is a proud principal of Delsea Regional High School. Paul has challenged himself to be a true educational leader by inspiring his staff and students to excel. More recently, Paul has been featured in ASCD Journal for his article “Road Tested / Getting Up to Speed with Speed PD” and “Why Every Administrator Should Team Teach” and “Our Teachers Deserve More Praise”, and numerous blog posts in ASCD Inservice. You can follow Paul on Twitter @PaulBerardelli

Michele Hill is a passionate educator who serves as a coordinator of admissions and communications at Burlington County Institute of Technology. Throughout her career as an educator, Michele has been a champion for struggling and impoverished students. Michele has been a guest blogger for ASCD Inservice, McGraw Hill, Principal Leadership, Teacher Tool Kit UK, Edweek and ASCD Road Tested. Michele is the host of DisrupteEdTv Teacher Sparks and producer of DisruptEdTV School Spotlight. You can follow Michele on Twitter @HillMrispo or visit her blog: spiritededucator.blogspot.com

This article is part of a monthly series from Michele Hill and Paul Berardelli where they share their advice and expertise as a classroom teacher and school administrator who demonstrate the importance of working together to help create a school culture of excellence. You can read more from them by clicking on the ‘Dynamic Synergy’ tag or by clicking here.