What makes a good teacher….There was a time when I thought being a teacher was all about the content you teach.  That couldn’t be further from the truth!

Teaching is a tough job, but it can be even more tough if you think it’s all about your content.  What makes a good teacher is first realizing that it is more about relationships than anything else.

If you are aspiring to be a good teacher, a great teacher, or better yet, a SEAL teacher, well there’s even more to it.

In this video, I’m going to tell you about the 3Cs of every SEAL teacher.  They are care, connection and creativity.

Let’s get started!

Read the Transcription
What makes a good teacher….There was a time when I thought my job as a teacher, first and foremost was to teach.  But, oh boy…. Was I wrong.

If you are a teacher, you know that it is a tough job.  But here’s the thing, whether we want it to be or not, our first priority is NOT teaching our content.  What is it? You might ask

My name’s Elizabeth Peterson and after over 20 years of teaching, I’ve come to a very deep understanding that it’s more about relationships than anything else.  And if you are aspiring to be a great teacher, or better yet, a SEAL teacher, well there’s even more to it.

Today I’m going to tell you about the 3Cs of every SEAL teacher.

SEAL, if you need a refresher stands for Social-Emotional Artistic Learning and it is a branch of arts integration that has come out of The Inspired Classroom.  A SEAL teacher is one who believes that the arts truly CAN be used to develop students’ social-emotional skills and uses numerous SEAL strategies to do just that.

But see, being a SEAL teacher is more than just integrating the arts into SEL and other content area.  A SEAL teacher works off these three Cs: Care, Connection and Creativity. Let’s take a look at each one.

First, CARE

Now, I’m sure you already care about your students.  That’s probably a major reason why you became a teacher – you care about kids, no matter what age.  But, more than ever showing you care isn’t just about taking the time to prep the class for an amazing science lesson or clay project.  Unfortunately, your students don’t really notice if you work for hours on their report card grades. And those piles of papers you take home to correct?  Sadly, they end up in the recycling bin, or worse, the trash! (And, on a side note, you might actually want to check out this video about teacher self-care before you take home hours of work to complete during your home time.)

Instead, you need to go a little above and beyond to help your students understand that you do, indeed care about them.  Now, I’m not saying do extra work,

oh…no I’m not into having teachers think they need to do more!

What I am saying is be more intentional with the time you do have with your students.

To show your students that you indeed are interested in them, their learning and their success.  That you CARE about them.

Here are a couple of ideas.

Take the time to listen to your favorite music with them and discuss what it means to you and how it makes you feel, that’s giving them a piece of you – caring enough to do that is a very special thing to your students.  Then, if you go even further and ask them to share something similar, you probably just made a lasting impression on a few of them.

Or how about when you roam the room and check in on kids, you also take a moment to make a thoughtful comment about their work, their progress in class or even just ask how their weekend was.

Caring involves a little give and take.  Share a little bit of yourself and also ask your students to share more about themselves.

Doing so will help you to see your students in a different light.  And they’ll start to see you a little differently too.

Now let’s look at the next C – connecting.

Connecting is the next step beyond caring.  It’s when you get to really put your care into action.

For example, remember when I mentioned sharing some music you enjoy with your students.  That’s part of connecting too! And taking it to that next step when you allow them to share with you is when you complete the cycle of a true connection.

Remember, teaching is more about relationships first, and then you can really dig into the content of your class.  Now, Relationships take time but the student-teacher relationship is very important to build. And once you have that trust with your students, the sky’s the limit.

And the best way to build trust? To build relationships with them.  And the best way to build relationships? To show you care by creating connections with your students!

See what I did there?

ok… so let’s get you started right away – if you don’t already, here’s the easiest way to start – greet your students at the doorway to your classroom.  Give them a fist bump as they pass, make eye contact, stop one or two kids and ask how their day is so far. This small task of greeting your students as they enter your room provides a great opportunity to connect with your students.

There are so many ways you can connect with students.  In SEAL, we call these Connection Sessions. It’s a great SEAL Tool!

In fact, I have 14 Connection Session ideas in a resource for you in the description of this video.  I’ve put them into 3 categories of small, medium and large, so depending on your time, energy and availability, there are definite ways to connect with your students.

Finally, let’s talk about creating, after all, we are focusing on SEAL here and SEAL stands for Social-emotional artistic learning.

Now, we can think of this in 2 different ways: one way is that you need to create WITH your students.  The other is that you ALLOW you students to create.

Let’s take a closer look.

Creating with your students is important …and fun!  This means you are working with and through the creative process with them.

Studio Days are probably the best way to do this.  In fact, using the Studio Day framework is a wonderful way to bring in the idea of SEAL into your day.  The framework involves three stages: Create, Reflect and Discover. First you provide time for your students to create something, then they reflect on it and finally they use their experiences and reflections to discover more about themselves.

For a teacher, being able to coach your students through that process is priceless.  You will learn so much about your students as you watch them create. What’s more is that when you get involved and create alongside them, you are also showing you care and you will naturally be connecting with them as well!

If you’re interested in learning more about Studio Days, be sure to look in the description for more info.

The other part of creating is that you ALLOW for creativity to occur in your classroom.  This is a little different than having students do creative projects in your classroom. Real SEAL teachers honor and respect students’ desire to be creative.

This is a bit hard to explain at first, so let me give you an example:

A couple of years back, I had a student who was a drawer and he was always doodling.  At first, my teacher instinct was to have him stop doodling and look at me when I was giving instructions, but I didn’t, because I know there are some people who need that in order to focus.  (Now, that’s not the way I am, so that’s why it is a hard concept for me to understand, but as a SEAL teacher, I work hard at being open-minded enough to allow for this.

Well, after giving this student the opportunity to doodle while I instructed, and then talk with me about what he heard and learned, I realized he really was paying attention.  And not only that, his doodles were a reflection of what I had been teaching.

Dare I say, he got more out of the lesson than others?

Ya. maybe.

There are teachers who stifle creativity in their classroom. That comes from a lack of understanding that each person, each student has a different way to learn and to be creative.  It’s so important that SEAL teachers allow for a little bit of freedom to be creative.

So, do you see how this all comes together?  Showing you care, by making connections with your students in real ways and allowing for creativity in your classroom is a foundational skill of any SEAL teacher.

These skills make for meaningful relationships in your classroom and when you have good relationships with your students, amazing learning starts to happen!

How do you connect with your students? Leave your ideas in the comment section below.

And make sure you download your copy of the 14 Connection Sessions that you can use in your own teaching by following the link in the description below.

If this video was helpful, be sure to subscribe, share with your teacher friends, and hit the like button so I know to make more videos like this!

I’m Elizabeth Peterson.  Thank you so much for watching.

And remember to keep inspiring yourself so that you can be inspiring to your students.



Download this Free Resource: Connection Sessions

These 14 ideas are great for showing your students you care by connecting with them!   I’ve put them into 3 categories of small, medium and large, so depending on your time, energy and availability, there are definite ways to connect with ALL your students.


Studio Days in the Classroom:

This book has 10 lessons that will help your students Create, Reflect and Discover more about themselves as learners.


Download this free resource: SEAL Starter Kit

Learn how visual art, music, drama and dance are integrated with all 5 SEL competencies.  Included are 4 activities to try, 2 complete SEAL Lessons and 1 SEAL tool you will want to use over and over.  You will know how to Teach SEAL in no time!


SEAL TEACHER TRAINING: Do you want to learn all about what it means to be a SEAL Teacher?  Get all the info about the mindset and methods behind how to Teach SEAL! Go to theinspiredclassroom.com/trainme to learn more and to be notified when the next SEAL Teacher Training begins.

Join our amazing FB community: Inspiring Teachers!  Share ideas, ask questions and get support from colleagues around the globe who believe in the power of arts in education!


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Connection Sessions

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