Despite the commonplace, the vast majority of the professional don’t were born, they are self-made.No, we are not underestimating talent, of course, but as Descartes said, “geniality is the combination of the gifts of the spirit and the fruits of work”, and so we, the teachers, can consider ourselves self-made professionals, a combination between the contents we have and we are willing to transmit and the practice in the classroom.

“Never Work Harder than Your Students” by Robyn R. Jackson, covers the last part: the day-by-day practise in the classroom following a very clear, practical and efficient path, far away from the flamboyant and sometimes useless approach of some pedagogics that became very fashionable in the last decades.

At great risk of being considered other self-help book for teachers, Jackson affirms every teacher can become a master teacher by following some, at least in theory, very basic patterns or ideas. Obviously we can’t expect to find here the Philosopher’s Stone of education hidden in this book, but it could be a very good starting point.

The “secret” behind this book is that instead of focusing on a specific theory or endless hours of preparation it stresses the necessity of developing a “teacher’s mindset” based on the application of seven principles that should become automatic responses to the common pedagogical challenges we face every day:

These seven points 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 along the way.
  5. Use feedback to help you and your students get better.
  6. Focus on quality rather than quantity.
  7. Never work harder than your students.

Throughout the whole book, Jackson offers us examples to put in practice these, at least in theory, seven basic ideas, guiding us through their implementation on panning, teaching, assessment and classroom management. We will find direct answers to very common questions, tactics to improve our results in external evaluations and even a self-evaluation test that could show us in which point we are and therefore what we should do to change if we want to improve our teaching.

In further posts, we will analyze all the different seven points and how they could help us in our day-by-day teaching.