Teaching is a craft, and every teacher is an artist. Their canvas includes four critical components. These components include students, parents, co-workers, and the content that they teach. A masterpiece is created when a teacher can successfully incorporate and include each of these four components. Leave any of the four components out, and a teacher’s overall effectiveness is reduced significantly.
Highly successful teachers realize that they must develop professional habits built around maximizing these four components.

Students are the focus within a teacher’s masterpiece. All other components provide support for the students, but students should remain the focal point. Successful teachers understand this and maintain an emphasis on the students while honing the other essential areas.
1. Successful teachers foster meaningful relationships with their students that transcend the walls of the classroom. They build relationships where there is genuine respect, admiration, and trust between the students and themselves. They value their students as people, recognize when they are going through a difficult situation, and provide them when support when they need it.
2. Successful teachers embrace individual differences in how students learn. They understand that there is not a one size fits all approach to learning. They tailor lessons to meet the needs of all the students in the classroom. They utilize students who have specific strengths to help students who have weaknesses in the same area.
3. Successful teachers are strong in all aspects of classroom management. They have high expectations for their students and hold everyone accountable. They are structured, but fair. They have well-established rules, procedures, and guidelines. They teach their students to monitor and correct their behavior before it becomes a major issue.
4. Successful teachers understand that the school year is a long journey. They recognize that it is a marathon and not a race. They utilize ongoing assessment to determine whole class and individual instruction and support throughout the year. They meet their students where they and guide them to where they want them to be.
5. Successful teachers maximize learning opportunities and engage all students. They take advantage of teachable moments and include lessons that will help their students become productive citizens. They are master motivators who can draw in even the most reserved student and help them become productive

Parents are the foundation of the masterpiece. They are the first strokes laid down on the canvas. A good background sets the tone for the entire piece. A good foundation will only enhance the focal point in the piece. Successful teachers understand that parents are critical in providing overall classroom support as they lay the foundation for academic success.
1. Successful teachers cultivate parent relationships. They communicate with parents frequently. They inform them of their child’s progress, offer suggestions for them to do at home, and provide positive feedback as often as possible. They work extremely find common ground that allows them to gain a foothold to build a trusting, collaborative relationship.
2. Successful teachers listen to parent concerns. They value two-way communication between themselves and the students. They solicit feedback from parents and are open to trying suggestions that may be out of the box. They do not dismiss a parent’s concerns, but value their opinion recognizing that parents can insights that can be beneficial.
3. Successful teachers understand the value of parent volunteers and recognize that the presence of a parent can have multiple benefits. First, it provides the parent with firsthand knowledge of what is going on in the classroom. Next, it shows the students that their parents care about education. Finally, it can help reduce the workload of the teacher allowing them to devote more time to their students.
4. Successful teachers find a way to get even the most reluctant parent involved. Some parents are apprehensive about getting even minimally involved. Teachers have to build relationships with their parents, educate them on the importance of parental involvement, and then provide them with a task that they are comfortable with to get them more involved.
5. Successful teachers make themselves accessible. They make themselves available 24/7. They become more than just a teacher. They become an educational resource for the parents. They utilize social media to communicate with parents. They respond to emails and text quickly. They engage in casual conversation at ballgames, the grocery store, and gas station.

Co-workers provide balance and arrangement of the colors in the masterpiece. Administrators, other teachers, and staff members all have duties that provide specific support in developing a masterpiece. It is the blend of colors strategically placed on the canvas that helps everything come to life. Successful teachers understand that they must build and utilize relationships with co-workers throughout their building.
1. Successful teachers value relationships with other teachers. When they are beginning their careers, they recognize that veteran teachers are a valuable resource. When they become veteran teachers themselves, they seek out beginning teachers to serve as a mentor to them. They rely on other teachersto offer encouragement and to celebrate successes.
2. Successful teachers are not afraid to share best practices and exchange ideas with others. They do not limit themselves to what they can create. They understand that the world is filled with great ideas and that wheel often does not have to be reinvented. They recognize the benefit of sharing their ideas with others in that it can impact students beyond their classroom.
3. Successful teachers value relationships with members of the support staff. They understand that schools would not function without administrative assistants, custodians, cafeteria personnel, maintenance, technology support, bus drivers, etc. They recognize that these people have valuable resources that can be utilized to enhance learning in the classroom at various times throughout the year.
4. Successful teachers have wonderful relationships with their administration. They solicit and value feedback and advice from their administrators. They trust that they have their best interest in minds and welcome them into their classroom. They recognize how busy their administrator is and limit the number of students that they send to the office.
5. Successful teachers take advantage of leadership opportunities. They seek out leadership roles. They want to be innovators for positive change. They are not afraid to speak up for their students or other students, but do so in a respectful manner. They are continuously looking for ways to improve their classroom and the school as a whole.

Content is the subject matter of the masterpiece. Great subject matter captivates, intrigues, and holds one’s attention. It is just as much about presentation as it is about the content itself. Successful teachers understand that they must be content experts who find creative ways to share this content with their students in such a way that it captivates their attention.
1. Successful teachers are content experts. They know their content standards for their grade level inside and out. They seek out opportunities to extend their content knowledge. They have a firm grasp on the curriculum in which they are using. They read and complete lessons and activities before doing it with the class so that they can improve upon it.
2. Successful teachers create dynamic and engaging lessons. They utilize hooks within their lessons to draw students in and captivate their attention. They engage students in hands-on learning opportunities when appropriate. They create a learning environment where dialogue is common, and opinions are exchanged and valued.
3. Successful teachers develop lesson plans with a purpose. They understand that every minute of every day is valuable. They maximize learning opportunities and create dynamic lesson plans that standard specific and content driven. They create plans that are easy for others to follow. They always have the materials ready to go before the lesson so that learning time is maximized.
4. Successful teachers incorporate technology into their lessons on a regular basis. They provide students with opportunities to learn and use these technologies when appropriate. They recognize the positive impact that technology has on this digital generation. They seek out new technologies that can enhance learning in their classroom.
5. Successful teachers are not afraid to try something new. They recognize that innovations surrounding education are being introduced on a daily basis. They will try anything new, scrap ideas that did not work, and tweak things that did just to make them better. They do not limit themselves to one prescribed way of doing things. They are open to change and to trying new things if they are convinced it will have a positive impact on student learning.