EdCuration Blog: Learning in Action

Four Steps To Becoming A Legendary Educator

Oct 27, 2021 2:02:15 PM / by M. Rene Islas

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Just a few days ago, I discovered on Facebook that my Uncle Eddie, who served a whole career as a teacher, principal, and came out of retirement to serve as an assistant principal, was named a Legendary Educator by one of his students. It got me thinking. Exactly, what is a Legendary Educator? What do they do?

As a reference point, I know that my grandfather, Buddy Islas, was a fantastic educator. He made it into the Arizona Hall of Fame for K12 educators. He received so many Professor of the Year accolades at Pima Community College, where he taught while in retirement, that they made him serve on the awards committee.

I decided to look at my grandfather and Uncle Eddie’s careers. I also studied programs like the National Teachers of The Year, Milken Educators, NAESP Principal of the Year, and a few other programs like EdCuration’s Certified EdTrustees. I found that Legendary Educators have a few common characteristics. 

First of all, they care about their students. They want them to be the best people they can be, and this means developing intellectual ability and social and emotional competencies. Uncle Eddie’s student wrote:

“Mr. Islas taught us about being proud of who we are, celebrating ourselves as individuals and students, and becoming good people.” 

Secondly, they are learners. Legendary Educators teach, but they are also on a constant mission to learn best practices and implement them for their students. They engage in professional learning to satisfy their professional requirements and learn for the sake of learning. 

My grandfather had a sign on his principal’s desk that said, “If You Don’t Know, You Just Have to Use Your Brain.” I asked him what this meant one time. He told me that sometimes people get stuck in their professions when they don’t know something. He said that there is a simple remedy--” find out!” I remember that every time he encountered a learning challenge for students, he would research all angles of the problem to learn the best practices to implement. 

Thirdly, these Legendary Educators are real-life scientists. We don’t always think of educators as scientists, but they really are scientists. The very best teachers run experiments. They identify challenges, create a hypothesis, develop treatments, make conclusions, and replicate the most effective solutions. They do this by running small instructional pilots to see what works best for their students. 

Finally, Legendary Educators lead! Rather than imposing on their colleagues, they build a coalition of the willing and implement best practices for their students. They don’t tell their colleagues what to do, they show them. They demonstrate effective instructional practices in their classrooms and invite others to try them out as well. They lead, and people join their success. 

Leading educators CARE like family members, LEARN like the best students, EXPERIMENT like scientists, and LEAD like musical conductors. These four marks of a Legendary Educator are also the four marks of EdCuration’s Certified EdTrustees. If you also CARE, LEARN, EXPERIMENT and LEAD, we’d love to have you join our team.


Topics: EdCuration, Professional Learning, EdTrustees

M. Rene Islas

Written by M. Rene Islas

Dedicating his life to improving teaching and learning for the most vulnerable students, Rene worked in the public and private sectors as a nationally recognized change leader. He developed a successful school improvement practice, created EdTech solutions for instructional coaching, and built sound policies guiding education in the U.S. and across the globe.

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