Not too long ago our school read the book What Great Teachers Do Differently : 14 Things Great Teachers Do Differently by Todd Whitaker. It was a good read and made some good points. The reason I bring this book up again now is that we have the “14 Things Great Teachers Do” posted on our cabinets in the teacher’s lounge. I stood reading  the other day (maybe waiting for the microwave to go off), and I was nodding at each, reflecting on each one, and a thought came to me: why can’t this apply to anyone? Why not administrators? Why not any boss?


Now, it so happens that Mr. Whitaker has also written the book What Great Principals Do Differently AND What Great Coaches Do Differently, so it seems he is a step ahead of me. Regardless, I think these principles can be just as useful to bosses of any profession , so I will indulge myself by substituting “boss” for “teacher” in each instance,“workplace” for “school”, “employee” for “student” and “data” for “standardized testing.” (My substitutions will be denoted by quotation marks.)


1. Great “bosses” never forget that it is people, not programs, that determine the quality of a “workplace.”

2. Great “bosses” establish clear expectations at the start of the year and follow them consistently as the year progresses.

3. When an “employee” misbehaves, great “bosses” have one goal: to keep that behavior from happening again.

4. Great “bosses” have high expectations for “employees”, but even higher expectations for themselves.

5. Great “bosses” know who is the variable in the “workplace”: THEY are.

6. Great “bosses” create a positive atmosphere in their “workplace”.

7. Great “bosses” consistently filter out the negatives that don’t matter and share a positive attitude.

8. Great “bosses” work hard to keep their relationships in good repair–to avoid personal hurt and to repair any possible damage.

9. Great “bosses” have the ability to ignore trivial disturbances and the ability to respond to inappropriate behavior without escalating the situation.

10. Great “bosses” have a plan and purpose for everything they do.

11. Before making any decision or attempting to bring about any change, great “bosses” ask themselves one central question: “What will the best people think?”

12. Great “bosses” treat everyone as if they were good.

13. Great “bosses” keep “data” in perspective.

14. Great “bosses” care about their “employees” and understand the power of emotion to jump-start change.


It works perfectly.  And wouldn’t you want to work for someone who is able to uphold these principles?

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