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Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Wendy Kopp on what makes a great teacher (perhaps a great lawyer as well?)

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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Caveat blog reader – this post is only tangentially related to the law. I’m perpetually fascinated with people who are able to do things are thought to be impossible. In Wendy Kopp’s case, I’m not sure which is more impressive: (a) generating measurable educational outcome improvements in schools populated in large part by students more likely to fail in more traditional environments or (b) turning teaching in the nation’s toughest schools into a prestigious and sought-after position.

I tend to think her thoughts, via a New York Times interview, on hiring people are transferable to other professions, perhaps ours:

We’ve done a lot of research on the characteristics of our teachers who are the most successful. The most predictive trait is still past demonstrated achievement, and all selection research basically points to that. But then there is a set of personal characteristics. And the No. 1 most predictive trait is perseverance, or what we would call internal locus of control. People who in the context of a challenge — you can’t see it unless you’re in the context of a challenge — have the instinct to figure out what they can control, and to own it, rather than to blame everyone else in the system.

Talent wins many battles; perserverance many wars.

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