Some teachers regularly raise student test scores, while others leave their students with below-average results year after year. This can happen side by side; same grade, same building. The results of dozens of studies point to the same most important factor: a good teacher is the biggest influence on a student’s chances of success.
Among the factors that do not predict a teacher’s ability? “A graduate degree, a high SAT score, an outgoing personality, courtesy, confidence, warmth, enthusiasm, and having passed the teacher certification exam on the first try,” says Elizabeth Green, a writer for The New York Times.
“Parents have always been concerned about where to send their children to school; but the school, statistically speaking, doesn’t matter as much as which adult is in front of their children,” said Amanda Ripley, reporting statistical findings from Teach for America. .
The Teach for America data suggests two main traits that link all good teachers: setting big goals for their students and continually looking for ways to improve their teaching. “Great teachers constantly reevaluate what they are doing,” Ripley said.
A teacher needs to constantly reevaluate and pay attention to what works for their students because every classroom is different. This requires patience and dedication, and a love of teaching, to get it right. Teacher Marie F. Hassett states, “Good teachers routinely think and reflect on their classes, their students, their methods, and their materials.”
“Another trait seemed to matter even more,” says Ripley. Teachers who scored high on “life satisfaction” on assessment tests were 43 percent more likely to do well in the classroom. No wonder here, a happier person is usually the best teacher.
Doug Lemov, teacher, principal, founder, and consultant for the Uncommon Schools charter school network in New York, takes a different approach when he thinks of good teaching. Lemov, who conducted his own research and published a “Taxonomy of Effective Teaching Practices,” believes that what often looks like a “born genius” is actually a “deliberate technique in disguise.” It suggests that good teaching is not purely instinctive, but that good teachers can be formed by acquiring knowledge of pedagogical techniques.
“Lemov’s view is that getting students to pay attention is not only crucial, but also as specialized, intricate, and easy to learn as playing the guitar,” Green explains.
In a 2010 study by German researchers, Baumert and his colleagues tested 194 high school math teachers and found that while content knowledge is essential, teachers with strong mathematical and pedagogical knowledge were the most effective.
What about passion and talent?
Author, educator, and activist Parker Palmer argues that good teaching is not about technique. After many conversations with students about what makes a good teacher, Palmer says, “They all describe people who have had some kind of connection skills, who connect with their students, their students with each other, and everyone with the subject being studied.. “
“Good teaching often has less to do with our knowledge and skills than with our attitude toward our students, our subject, and our work,” says teacher Marie F. Hassett.
To add to the debate, I asked my colleagues for their opinion on what makes a good teacher, and these are the traits we came up with here at 360 Education Solutions:
Making it fun. Using different teaching styles, a practical approach, and being adaptable are hallmarks of a good teacher. Good teachers have to stay tuned and up-to-date on educational standards, while keeping their students engaged by making it fun and including activities in their lessons. If a teacher can keep their students engaged and make things a constant debate, they are doing well. A good teacher must challenge his students to think creatively and influence them by being creative with the way they teach.
Be invested. A good teacher is committed to the subject and to his students. It is important to know the subject material well, but also to understand how students can understand or misinterpret it, and be aware of them and what they need. Knowing your students on a personal level, such as what is going on in their lives, is important not only for connection, but also for understanding what they need as students. Elementary school teachers and even high school teachers are often required to play the role of teacher and parent.
Prepare students for ‘battle’. A colleague gave me a very descriptive example of how he views a great teacher. His job is to give his students “the sword and the shield,” he explained, “so they can go into battle.” Because when they complete their challenges, it empowers them, he says, and when they’ve done it themselves, they can claim ownership over it. “Good teachers are the ones who don’t give you the answer … they open the door for you but let you go through it,” he says. “And the reason I say this is because the important things in my life happened because of teachers and mentors like this.”
Be hard. Nobody likes a teacher who is mean, spiteful, or overly punishing. But a co-worker likes a tough teacher because he challenges him. “It seems that the teachers that everyone hates for giving more work and not letting you out easily end up being the ones that you learn the most,” he said.
Other qualities we remember from our favorite teachers:
• Ability to relate
• Respect your students
• Have enthusiasm
• Present new perspectives
• They care about their students and what they teach.
• Are willing to go the extra mile
Most importantly, good teachers are the ones who have the patience to give their students the attention they deserve and are dedicated to helping them go further than anyone thought possible.
“Good teaching is not a static state, but a constant process,” concludes Hassett. “We have new opportunities to become better teachers every day; good teachers are those who have 16 more opportunities than they lose.”
Remember: good teaching means student success, but this success cannot be judged solely by test scores. Furthermore, the success of a student depends not only on a good teacher, but also on their own motivation. A good teacher can only “show you the door”, the student must go through it.