I like Todd Whittaker’s book What Great Teachers Do Differently: 14 Things That Matter Most. It asks, “What makes a great teacher?” and seeks to identify the operational features of “great” teachers and how they may differ from less effective teachers.
There has always been great debate about the secrets of teacher effectiveness; some focus on behaviour management, student expectation, hands-on engagement, environmental factors … the list goes on.
According to Whittaker; these are the “fourteen things” that “great” teachers DO that other teachers DON’T! (a paraphrased approach – forgive me Mr Whittaker!);
1. They keep PEOPLE first and PROGRAMS second.
2. They determine strong and clear expectation from the very start of the academic year; with a focus on consistency.
3. They determine to minimise the LIKELIHOOD of student misbehavior.
4. They take responsibility for student learning and maintain high expectation of student performance and engagement.
5. They take ownership of their role as the “variable” in classroom which matters the MOST.
6. They are great ambassadors for their classroom and their school. They create and promote safe, happy communities.
7. They look for the positive… always!
8. Relationship, relationship, relationship – they can rebuke caringly and can say sorry liberally.
9. Keep small “inconveniences” and “disruptions” SMALL.
10. No matter what – there is a reason they are doing what they are doing. They have a focus with purpose.
11. Their decision making is filtered by the outcomes for the students, not the outcomes for themselves.
12. They always believe the best of their students – every child is “good”.
13. They keep standardised testing/s in perspective.
14. They care, they care, they care.
I would like to add a few other observations, some from my own experience and some from others who have sought to investigate this question. What qualities would you add to the list?
15 They establish learning environments that are student-focused; not control focused (https://theteacherlounge.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/building-learning-environments/)
16 They build parental bridges EARLY.
17 They promote meta-cognition.
18. They complete the tasks they ask their students to complete – they DEMONSTRATE the literacy process (e.g. they write a paragraph with the class, they show HOW they construct sentences – not just the finished/polished version/s).
19. They link learning with student interests and abilities.
20. They embrace new technology.
21. They stay positively connected with other educators BOTH within and OUTSIDE of their discipline.
22. They embrace a range of strategies for different learning styles, genders and the labyrinth of ‘special needs’. They allow multiple forms of “assessment”.
23. They build knowledge and understanding from what is ALREADY known.
24. They have an attitude of life-long learning; they know that THEY have not arrived. I would add “self reflection” as an integral part of this.
25. They look for mentors and are prepared TO BE mentors to others.
26. They understand that they can’t always do all 25 of these things … and they can NEARLY live with that!