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"Teacher Magic": The Truth about Great Teachers

Great teaching, like great coaching, cannot be reduced to a series of methods. And there is nothing that troubles me more than when we make this mistake. There certainly are instructional strategies which are known to be highly effective, and good teachers very often incorporate them, just like the best coaches will typically employ proven drills and techniques. But most of us, on some level, know there is something else. I am here to confirm this. It's called teacher magic.

Teacher magic is hard to explain. And it can look very different depending on the person and the context. It’s the ability to hook students with a story, or make a math problem seem not only relevant, but exciting. It’s making a class project feel like adventure. It’s knowing how to use the art of surprise and how to harness the power of routine and ritual.

It’s going outside to learn - about the forest and the salmon and the first people. It's helping, but not too much. It’s telling, but only enough to pr…

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