“So will you be remembered as a deadly teacher, the one who said, ‘I reckon you can do this?’  Well you get to make that choice.  This is the power and the magic of our profession as teachers.” 

In his 2012 Keynote address at a MATSITI conference, Dr Chris Sarra asked, “How will you be remembered as a teacher?”  Dr Sarra explained how many of us will remember something our teachers said to us, which might have made us feel deadly about who we were as a child or might have made us not feel so good.”   

Dr Sarra explains that if you think about what makes a deadly teacher, these are a few of the things you might say: 

  • They are firm, fair and fun. 
  • They are passionate about what they do and that is a kind of passion that is infectious. 
  • They make time to get to know you outside the classroom – so the relationship goes beyond what is happening in the four walls of the classroom. 
  • They care about you – they go out of their way to make sure you are okay. 

The making of a ‘Deadly Teacher’

In 2011, the Institute undertook a project funded by AITSL to support the national teacher standards.  As part of this project, we looked at the attributes of effective teachers, to understand the elements of genuine community engagement.   

We asked students and community members what they thought makes a deadly teacher.  This is what they told us: 

The emotional bank account

The 2020 Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Report recognises teacher quality as the single most important ‘in-school’ influence on student achievement.   

Dr Sarra’s work, the Institute’s project, and the OID Report all describe how making time to get to know students and supporting them through high expectations is a foundation for success.  

In a 2011 article Dr Sarra says,‘the teacher-student relationship must be relentless around a message that says consistently to learners:  “Hey, I believe in you!”  

Dr Sarra describes how, with an emotional bank account, a teacher can build credit by making their interactions with students positive. This credit creates a safe and supportive space for the challenging conversations when they are needed.  

Once the emotional bank account is in place, High-Expectations Relationships can create a supportive and high expectations learning environment where you can challenge all students to succeed

What are you going to do this term to build the emotional bank account and be a deadly teacher?   

For more information see Stronger Smarter Approach | Stronger Smarter