"When a high value added teacher joins a school, test scores rise immediately in the grade/subject taught...and falls if/when that teacher leaves...All else equal, a student with one excellent teacher for one year between fourth and eighth grade would gain $4,600 in lifetime income, compared to a student of similar demographics who has an average teacher." -economists Raj Chetty and John Friedman of Harvard and Jonah Rockoff of Columbia as reported in The New York Times (1/6/12) article, "Big Study Links Good Teachers to Lasting Gain"
"Those who can't do, teach. And those who can't teach, teach gym." --Woody AllenComedy aside, it isn't WHO makes a great teacher, but WHAT makes a great teacher and HOW do we determine "GREAT TEACHER?" Are there objective criteria or is it a JUDGMENT CALL? And what are the ramifications if it is a judgment call - especially now with the Chicago teachers' strike and teacher evaluations as a pivotal national domestic issue?
In attempting to answer this question, let's first distinguish between "objective" evaluations and "judgment" calls:
objective (adj.) http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/objective
- not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based of facts; unbiased.
- intent upon or dealing with things external to the mind rather than with thoughts or feelings
- of or relating to actual and external phenomena as opposed to thoughts, feelings, etc....existing independent of thought or an observer as part of reality
BUT does teaching material make someone a GREAT teacher or just a GOOD/ EFFECTIVE teacher?
Furthermore, IF one looks at the first two definitions of "objective" I wonder and am somewhat doubtful if one can objectively determine what makes a great teacher.
So what might a judgment call look like?
judgment calls ( judgment calls plural (also use judgement call) ) http://dictionary.reverso.net/english-cobuild/judgment%20call
If you refer to a decision as a judgment call, you mean that there are no firm rules or principles that can help you make it, so you simply have to rely on your own judgement and instinct.According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Value_judgment
A value judgment is...based on a comparison or other relativity. As a generalization, a value judgment can refer to a judgment based upon a particular set of values or on a particular value system. A related meaning...is an expedient evaluation based upon limited information at hand, an evaluation undertaken because a decision must be made on short notice.Incorporating these definitions brings us awfully close to the current debate on teacher evaluations and merit and whether these can be measured at all. While we need to hold both educators AND their students accountable for learning, are we ready to objectively define and evaluate "GOOD TEACHER?"
Looking back at my experiences as student, as an educator, and as parent, I think there IS A PERSONAL COMPONENT to what makes a GREAT TEACHER - there has to be. A great teacher must relate to his or her students, make learning come alive. bring out emotions and feelings in their students while addressing student fears and passions associated with learning.
Maybe we can objectively quantify an effective teacher but must make judgement calls on "GREAT" teachers...
Whether 'Great Teacher' is a judgment call or objective reality (I leave the continuing debate to you in the comments) I want to focus on...the making of a GREAT teacher.
Illustration by R. Kikuo Johnson found in http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/07/magazine/07Teachers-t.html?pagewanted=allTHE MAKINGS OF A GREAT TEACHER:
I have been an educator for over 25 years. I have worked as a school psychologist, as a language arts/reading teacher (grades 1,3,4,5,6,7 and 8), as a teacher-mentor, and as an educational consultant, and was actively involved as a parent in my kids' education. I have met, observed, and taught with many, many teachers - some who were outstanding, some who were mortifying, and most who were 'good'. Here are the TOP TEN components I have found (based on literature searches and my own experiences) that make a teacher GREAT :
- Great teachers exude INTELLECTUAL CURIOSITY and they push their students to follow and feed the curiosity they model as they constantly question the world around them. When teachers can channel and push a 'need to know' attitude, learning and remembering are much more effective.
- Great teachers exude PASSION - for their students and for learning. Passion is motivating. It is exciting, it is engaging and it is catchy. This passion motivates and pushes students to want more, to embrace more, and to contribute more.
- Great teachers RESPECT their students' needs and perspectives.
- Great teachers have KNOWLEDGE and expertise in the content they teach while-
- Knowing what they know
- Knowing when they don't know
- Knowing how to acknowledge that they don't know (this is so important for modeling intellectual curiosity which in turn is so important for true, attainable learning)
- Knowing how to find out what they don't know - or when to have their students find out what they don't know - and bringing it back to class.
- Great teachers express CONFIDENCE and COMFORT in their subject matter AND in not always knowing ALL the answers. Modeling 'not (always) knowing' will make it easier for your students to acknowledge what they don't know while strengthening and modeling intellectual curiosity.
- Great teachers set EXPECTATIONS high (but obtainable) for themselves and for their students, facilitating and nurturing their attainment.
- Great teachers ACKNOWLEDGE that there are all kinds of minds in their classrooms and
- Great teachers have the FLEXIBILITY to build and integrate multi-modal components into their lessons addressing auditory learners, visual learners, students with longer and shorter attention spans, students who easily can move sequentially along steps of a problems and those who need more structure (to name just a few).
- Great teachers ENGAGE students, making the curriculum meaningful, pertinent, exciting, and getting students to critically evaluate and perceive issues in a variety of ways.
- Great teachers form PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS with their students, listening to their needs and their comments, acknowledging the right for different perspectives while GUARANTEEING A SAFE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT for all.
From Dead Poet's Society: "Just when you think you know something, you must look at it in a different way...triving to find your own voice...Dare to strike out and find new ground!"
And maybe, the question isn't "What makes a great teacher" but "What great teachers make...a god damned difference!!!!!"
Thanks for your visit, please leave you opinions in the comments.