Teaching Tuesday: Secrets of Being a Smart Educator and Leader: Learning, Leading and Serving

By Dr. Marjaneh Gilpatrick and Tracy Vasquez

math teacher facing the board in reflection

Have you ever wondered if smart educators are born with natural abilities to lead? How do effective leaders manage to lead their teams? One trait that is common in these individuals is their habit of continually reflecting on their beliefs and actions. The practice of reflection on how you are learning, leading and serving can take many forms.


Maximizing best practices for learning can be apparent in how you self-critique your own goals and aspirations for your students’ learning. What processes did you undertake in order to achieve those goals? This could be apparent by reflecting on the effectiveness of the lessons that you have taught:

  • Have the students mastered the objectives that you identified based on their individual needs and diverse learning styles and cultural backgrounds?
  • How did they demonstrate their knowledge, skills and abilities?
  • Did you provide opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning through academic language?
  • Were there multiple avenues for them to do so by listening, speaking, reading and writing?
  • Were your assessments aligned to the objectives and did you provide multiple and varied opportunities for them to demonstrate their learning in authentic ways?
  • Were the instructional materials you implemented effective?

For site leaders, it’s important to foster the concept of reflection and collaborative discussions in professional learning communities.


In addition to ensuring that your students are achieving their maximum skills and abilities, as educators, you are also guiding and leading them to develop their potential to influence the changing world. As a reflective teacher, you are mindful about your students’ prior knowledge and cultural considerations. You incorporate various strategies and interactions that promote an environment wherein students engage with one another and the teacher in rigorous academic conversations and learning experiences relating to the objective.


Lastly, as a reflective practitioner, you are tireless in ensuring that you are not only modeling serving to your students and their families, but you are also providing opportunities for your students to engage in service-learning opportunities. These may be demonstrated by project-based learning experiences. For example, if there is an influx of refugee families in the community, you can encourage the students to organize and teach English to those individuals. Additionally, they can mobilize the area’s businesses to welcome the families by donating their services and creating a resource book for the families.

At Grand Canyon University’s College of Education, our teaching and learning cycle provides a structure for reflection for teacher and principal candidates. It provides guidance based on research regarding the professional teaching and learning process and grounded in our rich Christian heritage. Just as the teacher and principal candidates personally move through the practices of learning, leading and serving, they also progress through the teaching and learning cycle. By doing so, they are better able to have a systematic positive impact on classroom instruction and student learning. Visit our website to learn more about earning your education degree from GCU and return each week for a new Teaching Tuesday post.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.