My Thoughts On Effective Teaching

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This month’s Education Leadership magazine is devoted to the topic of Effective Teaching. Therefore I thought I would throw my hat into the rink and share with you my two cents.

I think for the most part if we had to give a definition of an effective teacher we would all come up with similar ideas:

An Effective Teacher is :
• A teacher that cares and connects with his/her students both inside and outside the classroom
• A teacher exhibits a love and joy for teaching and is enthusiastic about learning
• A teacher that instills in his/her students a love and joy for learning and the desire to be a lifelong learner
• A teacher that gives his/her students the skills needed to survive in today’s ever changing world
• A teacher that measures success in terms of a student’s growth in learning
• A teacher that creates an environment where students are pushed out of their comfort zone when it comes to learning
• A teacher that himself/herself is constantly wanting to grow and improve

How do we measure some of these qualities. I think we would all agree that standardized testing can’t be the only measure. A teacher who has a student who is two grades below grade level and brings that student up a grade level and has made a connection with that student wouldn’t you say that,the teacher is an effective teacher?

I would like to quote to you what Thomas R. Hoerr wrote in this month’s Educational Leadership:
“Too often educators get sidetracked by focusing only on grades, grade- level equivalents, and percentiles. Those are all valid measures, but they are not the only ways to gauge growth. Part of the reason that our society gives so much attention to test scores is that we are so bad at measuring other, more amorphous qualities. That’s our fault. If enthusiasm for learning is important – and we know it is-we ought to be able to measure it. How might we do that? Certainly not with a multiple –choice enthusiasm test! Instead, we might examine student reflections in logs or journals or use rubrics to capture evidence of joyful learning.”

To me it is clear that we need ways to measure a teacher’s growth in all areas not only in the academic area but perhaps more importantly in the area of teacher effectiveness, and not necessarily to be evaluative but to truly be an effective teacher you want to be growing and we need to be able to measure that. As Thomas Hoerr says,”I want to know how good we are today so that in the future I can look back and see how we have improved.”

The challenge I know that I have is how do we effectively evaluate and measure what Hoerr calls the more amorphous qualities. Is that purely subjective or are there tools that we can use that can give us a more objective answer.
I am not sure what the answer is but it is certainly an area that we need to develop so that we can measure our effectiveness and “Look back and see how we have improved.”



  1. Charlie Roy said:

    Great post. Too often we look for numbers, numbers, numbers over the affective qualities of the learning environment a teacher creates. I find in working with high school students that they tend to understand or detect motive rather quickly. They know who is watching the clock and racing them to the parking lot at the end of the day and they also know who is passionate about what they do.

    December 1, 2010
    • Charlie,
      Thank you for your comment.
      I have seem similar behaviors even in the elementary grades. I have seen students who are motivated to work with one teacher and will do nothing for another teacher.
      We often don’t listen to the signals and messages our students are giving us.

      Thanks again

      December 1, 2010
  2. Smoken Flames said:

    I think introspection (i.e. students commentaries) is a fine tool to work with. The problem is that it turns quite hard to do it when there are many students to consider.

    December 1, 2010
    • Agreed
      which is why I think we need to come up with some type of measurement tool. As I mentioned in the previous comment we often disregard too often what our students are telling us and we need to find a way to tap into that as well.
      Thanks for the comment

      December 1, 2010
    • Troy,
      Thanks for the link.
      Have you seen Kim Marshall’s evaluation rubric. we are using that this year as part of our Teacher evaluation process.

      December 1, 2010
  3. Every year, I feel like a failure—-even though parents and students generally love being in my classroom and speak of the impact that I’ve made on their lives for years to come—-because my scores are the lowest on the hallway.

    Nobody has ever told me that’s okay, though. Instead, I just continue to answer more questions about why my numbers are so low.

    I think one of the biggest challenges for principals is helping teachers—-including me—-to recognize that the more amorphous qualities are still important and valued by their leaders.

    Any of this make sense?

    December 5, 2010

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