Featured Educator: Meet 61-year old Bill Heaning, first-year teacher in Syracuse City Schools

I love the hardest ones the most.

Those are the words of Bill Heaning, a teacher that happens to be 61-years young in the Syracuse City School District. Bill was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York in the 70’s.  His mother passed away when he was 12-years old from Lou Gehrig’s disease, and his father was an alcoholic.  Bill believes that despite his challenges, “I made it, and these kids will make it too.”

I had the pleasure of coaching Mr. Heaning a few weeks ago in his classroom.  After seeing him get 100% of his students engaged at multiple points during his lesson, I assumed he was an experienced educator with 30+ years of practicing the art and science of teaching. When I asked how many years he had been in education, and he replied “One. This is my first year,” I was simultaneously shocked and in awe.

After spending decades working in factories, Bill decided to become a classroom teacher and he is truly a rock star in the making! I learned so much by watching Mr. Heaning navigate through his classroom, deliver instruction and engage with his students. Below are three major take-aways that I got from watching Mr. Heaning teach:

1. He acknowledges the strengths of every student.
•    Mr. Heaning builds momentum by strategically narrating ALL kids at least once during a lesson
•    Shifting from narrating desired behaviors to academic language
•    Narrating “hands in the air” as a form of think-time to increase one volunteer to 15.

2. He believes that deep relationships are the key to success.
•   He checks in with those students whose behavior he finds the most challenging early, frequently and has individual plans as needed.
•   He believes genuinely that all of his kids will make it and he verbalizes this to his students.
•   He smiles, laughs, hugs, dances with (former Disco King), and most importantly – loves his students.

3. He embraces a Growth Mindset.
•    Bill wants to be coached and pushed, despite having high achievement levels.
•    He seeks feedback from his co-teacher and team leader on a regular basis.
•    Bill is humble and believes all of his students can grow on a daily basis.

One week before school started this year, Bill was introduced to the No-Nonsense Nurturer® model.  He implements the 4 steps of the model on a daily basis, and his results speak volumes.  Bill is deeply respected by his colleagues, his administration, his students and their families.

Heavy respect to this first year teacher (at 61-years of age) who is changing lives of the youth in the city of Syracuse on a daily basis.

by William Sprankles, CT3 Associate

William is an innovator with a remarkable journey in urban education. He has a dynamic background in which he experienced the strategic change process as teacher, coach, and administrator.

Check out CT3 Education programs such as No-Nonsense Nurturer, Real Time Teacher Coaching, and Real Time Leadership Coaching to find out more about Professional Development for Teachers and Leaders, classroom management strategies, and building relationships with students and their families, and properly addressing important issues in the classroom and school.
Category: Education, Featured Educators, Relationship Building, Teaching