Introducing Inspirational Teacher Steve Reifman

by Laura Gurley on January 18, 2012

We are welcoming three new teachers onto our writing team in the next month. I’ll be introducing the education-guru Angela Watson of The Cornerstone for Teachers and the hilarious Jill Scott from Controlling my Chaos in the near future, but today we get to meet our new monthly contributor, Steve Reifman. With several books and 18 years of elementary experience under his belt, Steve has so much valuable insight to give our community. Take a minute to get to know him, as his first post will be published here on Friday!
Steve Reifman is a National Board Certified elementary school teacher, author, and speaker in Santa Monica, CA. He has written several books for educators and parents, including Changing Kids’ Lives One Quote at a Time and Eight Essentials for Empowered Teaching and Learning, K-8. Steve is also the creator of the Chase Manning Mystery Series for kids 8-12. Each book in the series features a single-day, real-time thriller that occurs on an elementary school campus. For weekly Teaching Tips, blog posts, and other valuable resources and strategies on teaching the whole child, visit You can follow Steve on Twitter at!/stevereifman


What books/resources have shaped you or would you recommend to other teachers?  At the beginning of my career, I was fortunate to discover four books that had an enormous influence on my teaching: The Quality School by William Glasser, Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn, Why Do I Have to Learn This? by Dale Parnell, and Horace’s Hope by Theodore Sizer. From these writers I learned a great deal about what are now the foundational ideas of my classroom: purpose, quality, habits of mind, habits of character, teamwork, intrinsic motivation, enthusiasm, and pride. It was through Glasser that I learned about W. Edwards Deming, whose work has had a profound impact on the way I teach and the way I live. In fact, Deming’s teachings about quality inspired me to develop my own philosophical framework and write Eight Essentials for Empowered Teaching and Learning, K-8.

What aspect of education are you most passionate about today?  Today, the two topics that excite me the most are Character Education and Brain-Compatible Learning Strategies. I am particularly excited about my new book, Changing Kids’ Lives One Quote at a Time because it represents my first attempt to speak directly with educators and parents about developing  character in children.

What is your educational background?  I was a Sociology major at the University of Virginia and then earned my Master’s and Teaching Credential at UCLA in 1994. Having grown up in Westwood and rooting for UCLA all my life, it was wonderful to have my chance to be a Bruin. I also have my Administrative Credential and Master’s from Cal State Northridge, but I love working with kids in the classroom so much that I doubt I will ever use it. This is my eighteenth year as an educator, and most have been spent teaching third grade. Kids this age are terrific because they are incredibly capable as well as being sweet and impressionable.


What is a favorite inspirational quote that encourages you to teach with intention?

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
This is one of the quotes in my new book Changing Kids’ Lives One Quote at a Time. I love the quote’s emphasis on developing lifelong habits. In my teaching I try to empower students by helping them develop valuable habits of mind and habits of character.
What advice would you give a younger teacher?  There are so many things a new teacher has to think about, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the daily details. My advice would be to focus on the big picture, remember what made you want to become a teacher in the first place, and focus on those things to the greatest extent possible. No matter what happens, try to find the positives in every situation, work to build relationships with students and colleagues, learn from your mistakes, take pride in your craft, try to get a little bit better every day, and enjoy the ride.

 Tell us a few random things about yourself. . . .  I love to run, lift weights, and do yoga. In addition, I am a huge sports fan, and my favorite sports are football, baseball, basketball, and golf. I love the Dodgers and UCLA Bruins. My all-time favorite TV show is “24.” I found the single-day, real-time format of the show so exciting that several years ago I decided to create a kids’ version of the concept for readers 8-12. I have now written the first four installments of the Chase Manning Mystery Series. I self-published the first two books, but last January I received a big break when Brown Books in Dallas, TX expressed an interest in the series. The new and improved hardcover version of the series debut, Chase Against Time, will be out March 15, 2012.


I am so excited to have Steve’s voice challenging our community of educators here {leave a comment welcoming him or asking him a random question, would you?}, and

thanks to all of you who participated last week in our Teaching Tips Tuesday link-up.  I am going to have this feature as a weekly feature of the blog, so bloggers, please plan on sharing your practical teaching idea next Tuesday, for the chance at another great giveaway prize!  The winner of this last week’s charm bracelet giveaway was Cara from TeachingMyCalling! Thanks, again, to all who jumped in and shared.  I’ll have a graphic for you next week for our Tuesday link-up, as well as a vintage prize you are gonna go crazy over.

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