Elementary vs Exemplary Educators

Hello, my name is Mason Schmidt and I am a prospective educator. I’ve wanted to pursue education as a career for about three years now and over the course of the past three years I have had a multitude of thoughts about my own educational pedagogy that I would love to implement in my own classroom some day. I have taken a handful and a half of education classes and read provocative and inquisitive articles and testimonies from “Exemplary Educators“.

However, I always wondered what made them Exemplary. Was it the support from their fellow teachers? Their certificates from prestigious universities hanging up on their walls at home? Their ability to have their kids get good grades by the end of the school year? What exactly was it?

I believe that, as of right now, I understand what makes an Exemplary Educator…

…If only it was that easy.

The one thing that I do believe in on this subject is that there are many many ways to be considered an “Exemplary Educator”. Every educator must have the basic and fundamental components mastered, however the exemplary ones bring their own special talents to their classrooms to build on top of these elementary components, giving their students a multitude of different layers to experience throughout their time in that classroom.

These I believe are those heightening components that separate Exemplary from elementary.


  • Support as well showing that you are in the student’s corner all the way.
  • Not just willing, but excited to walk alongside them in their journey though your classroom.

Lean into Discomfort

  • Discomfort as an educator can only make you grow
  • It is when you are comfortable when you become complacent
  • Growth begins where the comfort zone ends
Here is Aaden conquering his fear of snakes and growing as an individual.

Converse With Students

  • Conversations lead to connections
  • No Place to hide, forced to “see” the student
  • Forces student to become an agent in their own education because now they cannot hide!

Create a Place not a Space

  • A space is just a location with no meaning associated with it
  • The classroom should have a deep meaning to the students and teachers
  • Classroom should not feel like four cinderblock walls and a whiteboard

Out with the Monoculture

  • Monoculture means that there is one dominant culture or personality in the classroom
  • Disrupt this by engaging all voices, narratives and backgrounds
  • Be an advocate of diversity – much stronger through adversity together than separate

Take Risks

  • Students love appropriate risks
  • Step out as an educator and provide a unique experience, something that they will tell their friends about

Model Behavior

  • As an educator, there is an inherent responsibility to show up for your students day-in and day-out
  • Be a positive role model, someone they look up to and someone that earned their respect


  • Experience student’s feelings not just understand them
  • At the end of the day, what matters more is the child sitting in front of you. Not the student.

These are a few of the multitude of components out in the world that I believe can take an ordinary educator and make them into an Exemplary educator. I plan of using all of these components in this blog post in my future classroom. They are something that I believe in and something that has been instilled in me before and during my time at Miami University. I am thrilled to continue my education this semester and look forward to providing more blog posts throughout it! Follow my twitter for updates in the future!



  1. Hey Mason! I really enjoyed reading about your opinions and explanations of what makes an exemplary teacher. I 100% agree with all of your points. I especially love your use of visuals to supplement the points you were making. All of these are so important to being an exemplary teacher, but in what ways can you be an exemplary science teacher? Is there anything that you think is important for exemplary science teachers to do in their classrooms that other teachers don’t necessarily need to do? Also, how do you plan on implementing the things you wrote about into your own classroom? Great post!

    • I think something that is extra important for teachers to implement in their classrooms is a culture of taking risks. I believe this because it is vital that students take risks to further their education and have the internal desire to grow. I think this is also vital for teachers because it mixes up the classroom culture and shows the students that your classroom is unlike any that they have been in before. I think some tangible ways to do this is to go against the status quo by rearranging the seating and provide students with more activities and less powerpoints.

  2. Hey Mason,

    Loved the post. I especially liked the way you outlined some of the key components to being an exemplary science teacher. I would agree that all of those elements are essential to being an exemplary science teacher. Your distinction between space and place helped me to better understand the importance of place, since I was struggling with it before. Thanks for the great post!

    • Thank you! I am very glad that you enjoyed it! I think all of us as aspiring educators want to ensure that our classrooms have emotions correlated with them to make that space more meaningful!

  3. Hi Mason!
    I love your post, especially the part about making a classroom into a place and not a space, that is so important for your students to feel excited about your class. The things you put in your class should be a reflection of who you are as a teacher. It should be covered wall to wall to amazing experiments and scientists that the kids can look up to. This can help to create a wonderful place for the students to learn in but the most important thing in making a place is your own enthusiasm. How do you hope to show your enthusiasm to your students?

    • Thank you! I hope to show this enthusiasm by sharing stories and real life examples of something that relates to the content as well as associating as many emotions in that space as possible. When there are more emotional connections that go deeper that just “Good morning” or “How are you?” I have found that people work so much better with one another and the time really flies because people genuinely have a great time!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.