Saturday, February 6, 2010

What resources make a great teacher?

Believe it or not, this post was inspired by a stirring (and amusing) piece, Beware the ego trip, by columnist Kathleen Noonan in Brisbane's tabloid newspaper. The relevant bit for readers of this blog is the reference to an article in the Atlantic Monthly, What makes a great teacher? Noonan summarises:

More than any other variable in education - more than schools or curriculum - teachers matter.

First, great teachers tended to set big goals for their students. They always were looking for ways to improve their effectiveness. Great teachers constantly re-evaluate what they are doing.

Great teachers had four other tendencies in common: they avidly recruited students and their families into the process; they maintained focus; they planned exhaustively and purposefully - for the next day or the year ahead - by working backwards from the desired outcome; and they worked relentlessly, refusing to surrender to poverty, bureaucracy and budgetary shortfalls.

The other thing that predicted success in the classroom was . . . wait for it . . . happy teachers. Teachers who scored high in "life satisfaction" were 43 per cent more likely to perform well in the classroom than their less satisfied colleagues. Their zest and enthusiasm spreads.

University middle managers should take note.

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