56 Essential Truths for Effective Teaching

Essential Truths for Teachers 
By Danny Steele and Todd Whitaker
(Routledge/Eye On Education, 2019 – Learn more)

Reviewed by Doug Dunn

Todd Whitaker and Danny Steele are well known for their quotable thoughts that frequently fill Twitter feeds with wisdom, inspiration, encouragement, and truth. While reading Essential Truths for Teachers, I felt like I was reading a “Best of” Twitter. The number of notes I took from this short read was quite a bit more than most much longer books I have read.

Teaching is hard work. Real hard. It’s even harder to be great at it. Greatness comes from having a student-first mindset which promotes positive, meaningful relationships and the steadfast pursuit of professional growth.

Steele and Whitaker say the best teachers have these three things in common:

  • They are all about the students.
  • They always bring positive energy into the classroom.
  • They are relentless about getting better.

And there you have the heart of Essential Truths for Teachers. Through identifying and explaining their 56 Essential Truths, the authors help readers learn how they can be more student-oriented through the relationships they build and the mindsets they have towards their responsibilities in the classroom, in school culture, and in growing professionally.

A quick read or a daily inspiration

Steele and Whitaker share their 56 Essential Truths in 99 pages. In doing so, they’ve created a very quick and easy-to-read book that could be finished in one sitting or spread out over a period of time by treating each Essential Truth as a daily inspiration. Each Truth should either affirm or challenge our current mindsets as we strive to have the greatest impact we can on students.

The mindset we have towards our profession and our students will determine the level of effectiveness we’ll have on those we serve and serve with. As we read each Essential Truths, we recall the mindsets needed to be effective at establishing and maintaining meaningful relationships. Those meaningful relationships are rooted in our desire and ability to feel and demonstrate empathy on a regular basis.

We are reminded that:

  • Some students need us to be their cheerleader as much or more than they need us to be their instructor.
  • When teachers are in it for the students, they are not as quick to complain about minor issues.
  • We can’t assume kids know we care about them. We have to show them every day.
  • The most impactful teachers practice empathy.
  • The best teachers are not victims, do not dwell in negativity, and focus on solutions rather than blame.
  • Great teachers do not allow themselves to live inside their comfort zones.
  • Our students cannot afford for us to be average.
  • The most important gift we can give students is hope.

Help with molding effective teacher mindsets

There is a lot of research about the various ways educators can have major impact on student achievement. I personally believe one of the most important variables is teacher mindset. Our mindset towards students. Our mindset towards our responsibilities. Our mindset towards school culture. Our mindset towards professional learning and growth. We cannot have a great impact without a great mindset. Essential Truths for Teachers is a great resource for molding effective mindsets

Danny Steele and Todd Whitaker have done a phenomenal job in recognizing and explaining 56 Essential Truths that will help us be the best we can be for students.

Doug Dunn is superintendent and principal of a small, PK-8 school in south central Missouri. His wife is an elementary school counselor, and they have three daughters. He received his bachelor’s degree in Middle School Education from Missouri State University, a master’s in elementary and secondary administration from William Woods University, and a specialist degree in educational leadership from Arkansas State University. He can be found on Twitter @DougDunnEdS.



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1 Response

  1. Rita Platt says:

    Great review! Your description of it as a “best of Twitter” rang true for me! I also like the bite-sized motivation.

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