Here’s the teacher you wish you had

You wish you had the cool teacher like Barry White Jr., when you were in school.

You would’ve needed to learn your own handshake because that’s how he starts the school day. Each student gets a personalized “hand shake.”

White, who teaches in Charlotte, N.C., says it sets the kids up for a day of learning and gives them confidence.

“Each handshake reflects their personality,” he told NPR’s Here and Now today.

“It boils down to bringing some joy to them and making them look forward to a place they can enjoy going to” he says of his students, many of whom are low-income students and do not come from happy homes.

He said he was inspired to do something different with his students after watching LeBron James do the same thing with his teammates.

  • Al

    It might not be via handshakes, but I haven’t yet met a teacher of my daughter’s who doesn’t work this hard for his/her students. They’re some pretty awesome people, teachers.

  • MrE85

    Said something similar to Mrs. Lungs when I saw this. We need to clone this guy.

  • And there’s Mr. Bonner!

    • crystals

      There aren’t enough upvotes in the world.

  • Jerry

    With a name like Barry White jr, you kind of have to be cool.

  • John Erving


    Adults should be adults, and kids be kids.

    It’s undignified.

    Anecdotally, the BEST teachers were the ones who maintained their dignity as adults in charge who knew what was best, and DEMANDED the best from each student. They weren’t big buddies slapping hands–they were adults behaving like adults in charge.

    I think we when reflect on that, we would all agree.

    • You’re describing Miss Taylor. Boy she was tough. English, of course. All the tough teachers are English teachers. Certainly fits your bill. Then there was Ann Masse, who was much more friendly and down-home and related much better to us. She was a speechwriter for Eisenhower who was our journalism teacher.

      Two styles. Both effective.

      And then there was Mr. Provenzano. Tough old Marine. He was just a psychopath.

      • John Erving

        “Two styles. Both effective.”

        There’s little empirical evidence that “relating to students” or “high fiving” is as effective as other methods.

        Sure, some may FEEL that they are learning more, but one’s self-esteem and views of oneself, and academic achievement, do not correlate. (and may even be counterproductive!)

        15,000 studies and growing!!!

        • Jack Ungerleider

          The video story says nothing about teaching style. This is only about how he greets his students. I saw nothing in the video or Bob’s story that implies that these students “do better” because of this process. Mr. White’s only claim about the personalized handshakes was to bring joy to the kids.

          • I imagine a lot of parents have never gotten on the floor to play with their kids. Not dignified. We’re seriously arguing about getting kids excited about coming to school and learning.

          • John Erving

            “I imagine a lot of parents have never gotten on the floor to play with their kids. ”

            That has nothing to do with this story.

            “We’re seriously arguing ”

            I’m not. Are you?

            “about getting kids excited about coming to school and learning.”

            The question then is whether that excitement translates into academic achievement.

            There’s not much research to support such a contention.

            So, if hand-slapping builds excitement but does not translate into academic success, then let’s call it what it is, and avoid calling it what it is not: It’s cheerleading, but not educational.

            Cheerleading is fine, but that does not necessarily make a good educator.

          • // There’s not much research to support such a contention.

            Another commenter, I believe has called the achievement gap an effort gap. If that’s true — and I don’t know that it is — I suppose the question is whether a student excited about learning is more likely to expend an effort to learn.

            Some teachers tell me that it’s true. Some people on the Internet say it’s not.


          • I remember in 9th grade, I had a Latin teacher and I just couldn’t master things. I fell farther and farther behind. He was, of course, teaching a dead language and nothing worked. He wasn’t particularly inspiring and I pretty much gave up.

            Then he got promoted to assistant principal and so we got a new Latin teacher. Jim Connors. Connors was cool and had a personality. He shared a house with a couple of other teachers, including Mr. O’Rourke, one of the toughest history teachers at the high school.

            Connors got me interested in Latin although I can’t recall exactly how. But he was certainly more personable and every bit as demanding (the two are not mutually exclusive). He and O’Rourke would stop at my house while my brother and I waited for the bus and we’d play basketball in my driveway until the bus came.

            There are many ways to make a connection with kids but the thing I’ve noticed is once you do, kids don’t want to disappoint you. I sure didn’t. So I paid more attention to Latin. And by the end of the year, I was the best Latin student in the class.

            Look, all we’ve really got are anecotes and what we believe and what we can find on the Internet to support what we believe.

            What’s missing in this thread — which I find utterly fascinating — is one example — just one — from people own education about what teachers made a connection in their lives and why they did. Anecdotal? Sure, of course.

            But it might be worth reflection on our own educational struggles and inspiration. My guess is we’ll find that teachers are of all stripes and their impact can vary from person to person.

            I realize now that there must have been a reason why Connors and O’Rourke stopped to shoot some hoops, and it probably wasn’t because they just wanted to play some basketball, any more than those cops in Gainesville a few years ago wanted to shoot hoops in the street when they were called on a noise complaint.

            Not everyone can be a cop. Not everyone can be a teacher.

            Amazing things happen when individuals make a connection with each other.

          • John Erving

            “Some teachers tell me that it’s true. Some people on the Internet say it’s not.”

            Sorry, it’s not just he said-she said.

            I’ve offered citations to reviewed studies that refute an assertion that excitement translates into academic achievement.

            Definitive? Of course not, but the bar has been raised ..your effort to lower it back down to “he-said;she said” notwithstanding.

            If a reader chooses not to read them, or do further research, fine..but the bar is no longer at “some say yes, some say no”.

            Look, you tend to come across as a “know-it-all” on this topic (it’s always hard to judge attitude of course) –it’s okay to not respond, or take a break if necessary. But to simply ignore substantive research in favor of more commentary is simply unenlightening.

          • John Erving

            “I saw nothing in the video or Bob’s story that implies that these students “do better” because of this process:

            I did: “Two styles. Both effective”

            Sorry, but that’s Bob’s assertion.

          • Um, no. That assertion referenced Miss Taylor and Mrs. Masse.

            Jack is correct.

            I’ll tell you what style didn’t work. Mr. Provenzano. Complete psychopath, probably from the war.

          • John Erving

            Oh I see.

            When I read you comment, I took it as your view of excitement vs. my view that it does not translate..


  • John Erving

    For a primer/ scholarly reading on the INeffectiveness of “matching ” learning styles to instructional methods/styles:

    Moreoever, students rarely understand, let alone can identify, what their “learning style” might be.