On the last day of school before the summer break, I watched my two kids enter their classrooms with huge grins on their faces.  As the year went by, they got taller, smarter, wiser and happier.  Much of their progress can be attributed to the extraordinary teachers who taught them this year.

As I reflected on what I admire the most about my kids’ teachers, I came up with a list of 7 characteristics.  All of them happen to start with the letter “E”, so I can call the list “The 7 Es of Extraordinary Educators”:

1. Energetic.  It takes a LOT of energy to keep up with twenty-five rambunctious youngsters.  (I always thought I was a high-energy person – and then I met my kids…)  Both of my kids’ teachers are constantly exuding positive energy.

2. Enthusiastic.  My kindergartner’s teacher started and ended the mid-year parent-teacher conference with an exuberant “I LOVE having your son in my class!”  She responded with similar enthusiasm to each show-and-tell, each newly-memorized sight word, each completed puzzle.

3. Effective.  Our teachers are highly effective in the classroom.  They are super-prepared.  They provide enough structure while still being flexible.  They mix large-group, small-group and individual work modules.  They deal with crises and special circumstances with great aplomb and grace.

4. Ego-less.  Our teachers are dedicated and selfless, and they always put their students’ needs first.  My second grader’s teacher took many 1:1 meetings with me before or after class to listen to my concerns.  She was always responsive to my feedback and suggestions, and willing to try different approaches.

5. Empathetic.  My kindergartner’s teacher knew that he would likely melt down during the end-of-the-year school concert.  She reserved a seat for me in the front row so that he could move to my lap if he got upset.  (He did).  After the concert, she showed me a video of him happily singing along with all his classmates during the rehearsal.

6. Engaging.  Both of my kids’ teachers actively engaged parents in the classroom.  They invited us to volunteer for math lab and living classroom and tubtime, and to tell our family stories during family days.  They shared updates to tell us what the kids did that day.  They shared pictures from class activities and field trips.  They brought parents into the classroom, literally or virtually.

7. Entertaining.  One of the favorite traditions at our school is PJ day, when both kids and teachers are sporting their favorite PJs.  The entertainment value of the pictures we took that day is priceless!

That’s my list of the 7 Es of Extraordinary Educators.

I welcome your comments on what you value the most in your kids’ teachers.  What characteristics make them Extraordinary?