Those Who Can: Why Master Teachers Do What They Do

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9781475801453: Those Who Can: Why Master Teachers Do What They Do
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In any endeavor, it is difficult to know what excellence is without knowing what excellence looks like. Linking theory and practice, Those Who Can: Why Master Teachers Do What They Do illustrates what instructional excellence "looks like" by detailing what elite instructors do and as importantly, why their pedagogical choices lead to uncommonly good student results.

Thoughtfully written, clearly explained, and thoroughly researched by a master educator with more than four decades of public school experience, Those Who Can provides school administrators, education students, and teachers of all experience levels with a no-nonsense practical blueprint indicating what instructional strategies promote learning, what approaches undermine learner performance, and the behavioral principles underlying both outcomes.

In demystifying the so-called art of instruction, the approaches outlined in Those Who Can will improve student achievement with little investment other than the time it takes to read the book, the courage to implement its concepts, and an open-minded willingness to challenge the educational status quo of what is for the instructional promise of what could be.

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The author of Those Who Can has a clear vision of the things that instructors should be mindful of---and has translated that vision into a book that, really, is a pedagogical tool.  Without being preachy or pedantic, each chapter presents an essential “need to know” concern for teachers by distilling educational research, by introducing key concepts, and by raising big issues of practical concern.  Moreover, each chapter focuses on a SINGLE dimension of classroom practice and not the hodge-podge or laundry list one often finds in “tips for teachers” books.  Those Who Can is an essential resource for beginning and even more experienced instructors.

Dr. Glenn Lauzon
Director of Curriculum
Indiana University Northwest


In Those Who Can: Why Master Teachers Do What They Do, master teacher Neil Bright distills the secrets of effective teaching into fifteen “practices” that he describes using clear language and extensive support from research literature.  In dismissing oft-cited excuses for ineffective teaching and underperforming students, his tone is authoritative, yet empowering and readable, and no-nonsense.  Ever realistic and practical, Bright gives detailed and evidence-based examples of effective and ineffective classroom management techniques, discussing why and how some common techniques do not work to improve classroom climate and learning.  Unlike other books aimed at this audience, these easily implemented examples are written in ways that allow educators to immediately try them out in their classrooms.  This approach empowers teachers rather than disheartening them, providing strategies that equate to success for those striving for teaching excellence.  Overall, Those Who Can is an excellent starting point for discussion of the art and science of teaching.

Meghan E. Marrero
Global Education Review


Professor Bright links theory with practice to address curriculum, student motivation, classroom management, questioning techniques, and working with parents. The author's writing style has the conversational tone of an expert lecturer speaking to his audience. It is readable and contains a great deal of research and suggestions. It would prove valuable to all educators seeking greater efficacy and student success. Bright's obvious audience is classroom teachers or prospective teachers, and the book would be appropriate in teacher prep classes. School administrators would also benefit from reading this book. Summing up: Recommended. T.A. Stanton, Liberty University.
--Choice Magazine

As Those Who Can is a no nonsense direct look at practical strategies effective teachers use, I highly recommend it. Especially helpful for novice instructors, experienced educators will benefit from the work as well.  Overall, this is a great book.

Dr. Mitchell Jay Kelly
Clinical Associate Professor
College of Education
University of Iowa

Those Who Can has been thoughtfully written to motivate its readers to become highly effective instructors and I deeply appreciated its message that the purpose of education is to prepare students for success in life. This being so, the author demonstrated great insight into qualities that excellent teachers share and I particularly found the first half of the work inspiring and the last chapter to be brilliant. The book's review of essential practices will also be well received as will its appendix.

Dr. Retha Meier
Associate Professor
College of Education and Public Service
Saint Louis University

As District Superintendent for the Department of Defense Dependent Schools in Okinawa, Japan, I have found Those Who Can to be a useful resource as we work to provide world class instruction for our students.  In fact, our administrators, 26 in all, are using the book as a part of our monthly administrative meetings.  Additionally, Those Who Can has become a valuable discussion starter for the Professional Learning Community at one of our schools.  Our thanks to Neil Bright for providing this important vehicle to improve our schools.

Mike Thompson
District Superintendent
Department of Defense Dependent Schools
Okinawa, Japan


As Middle School Coordinator for the Rutherford County Schools in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, I recently reviewed Those Who Can and found the book to be closely aligned with the progressive nature of our district. And because the work reaffirms the very advanced philosophy of so many educators in our system, the book will be shared with our principals and also with our staff as an appreciated resource in our professional library.

Barbara Powers
Middle School Coordinator
Rutherford County Schools
Murfreesboro, Tennessee


I have greatly enjoyed reading Those Who Can and have used some of the information from the behavior management chapter in my secondary methods class when discussing classroom environment.  For me, the book immediately makes a lot of sense and I have shared it with several of my colleagues.  It was wonderful to know there is someone out there who has written a book that comes from a similar intention as my own and because of that, it has been fueling my passion for good teaching.

Dr. Jessica Krim
Assistant Professor Department of Curriculum and Instruction
Southern Illinois University


Since we obviously need to do a better job showing novice educators what good teaching looks like, Those Who Can is a very fine resource to start their thinking about the nonnegotiables of excellent practice.  I especially appreciated Mr. Bright’s mandate that we must think about the essential skills and habits of mind for students to do well in life and not merely in school and how he encouraged performative pedagogy, the safeguarding of instructional time, and the value of high instructional expectations.  Professor Bright, thank you for offering such rich fodder for reflection, for encouraging school reinvention of the sort that is sorely needed in many of our nation’s failing schools, and for reminding us about the power of teachers. 

Dr. Maya
Professor of Education
University of Hawaii

The book's greatest contribution lies in its recognition that masterful teaching is more than using research-based practices. It involves an unwavering belief in the importance of education as life preparation, an understanding of teachers' own role in modeling, scaffolding and promoting deep and meaningful learning, and a recognition of their own interdependence with colleagues, administrators and parents.
--Dr. Giselle Martin-Kniep, president of Learner-Centered Initiatives.
I have read Those Who Can: Why Master Teachers Do What They Do and enjoyed it immensely. I liked and agreed with all of Neil Bright's essential practices of master teachers and was particularly impressed by his thorough references to scholarly research---another characteristic I believe master teachers should possess. I want to thank Professor Bright for his contribution to this scholarship.

Dr. Xiufeng Liu
Professor and Associate Dean for Interdisciplinary Research
Graduate School of Education
University of Buffalo

I have read Those Who Can and have shared it with a couple of my colleagues.  In fact, I have suggested that the Director of Field Placements require her student teachers to purchase this book.  Currently, I am on a U. S. Department of Education grant to transition candidates from other careers to teaching math or science at the high school level.  I have 12 students who will soon be completing their professional development practicum and I am requesting that they purchase this text.  Professor Bright has delivered an important message in a pleasing tone...not something readily found in academic tomes.

Dr. Linda Quinn, Full Professor
Department of Teaching and Learning
University of Nevada, Las Vegas


After reading Those Who Can, I was struck by the congruence between the practices Professor Bright advocated, such as using Bloom’s taxonomy in generating classroom questions, and how we instruct our education students in our Multiple Abilities Program. Moreover, I certainly appreciated all of the book’s citations, felt the work would be particularly good in a master’s program, and found myself agreeing with Mr. Bright nearly all of the time. I am glad I bought the book and was happy it was brought to my attention.

Dr. Madeleine Gregg
Department of Special Education
University of Alabama

About the Author:

Neil Bright is a retired Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, a former faculty union officer and chief negotiator, a college professor of Psychology and Government, a staff developer, and a teacher of students from fifth grade through high school seniors. Currently a writer and student teacher supervisor in New York's Catskill Mountains, he was nominated for the Dean's Award as distinguished county educator, was named outstanding district instructor, and gained semifinalist recognition for the New York State Teacher of the Year competition in 1992.

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