Some acim teacher regularly lift students’ test scores, while others leave their students with below-average results year after year. This can happen right next door from each other; same grade, same building. Results from dozens of studies point to the same most significant factor-a good teacher is the single greatest influence on a student’s chance at success.
Among the factors that do not predict a teacher’s ability? “A graduate-school degree, a high score on the SAT, an extroverted personality, politeness, confidence, warmth, enthusiasm and having passed the teacher-certification exam on the first try,” sites Elizabeth Green, writer for The New York Times.
“Parents have always worried about where to send their children to school; but the school, statistically speaking, does not matter as much as which adult stands in front of their children,” said Amanda Ripley, reporting on the statistical findings of Teach for America.
Teach for America data suggests two major 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 be constantly re-evaluating and paying attention to what is working for their students because every classroom is different. This takes patience and dedication, and a love for teaching, to do it right. Teacher Marie F. Hassett asserts, “Good teachers routinely think about and reflect on their classes, their students, their methods, and their materials.”
“Another trait seemed to matter even more,” Ripley says. Teachers who scored high in “life satisfaction” based on assessment tests were 43 percent more likely to perform well in the classroom. No surprise here, a happier person is usually the better teacher.
Doug Lemov, teacher, principal, founder and consultant for the charter school network Uncommon Schools in New York, has a different approach when thinking about good teaching. Lemov, who conducted his own research and published a “Taxonomy of Effective Teaching Practices,” believes that what often looks like “natural-born genius” is actually “deliberate technique in disguise.” He suggests that good teaching is not purely instinctive, but that good teachers can be made through acquiring knowledge of pedagogical techniques.
“Lemov’s view is that getting students to pay attention is not only crucial but also a skill as specialized, intricate and learnable as playing guitar,” Green explains.
In a study conducted by German researchers in 2010, Baumert and his colleagues tested 194 high school math teachers and found that although content knowledge is essential, teachers who possessed strong pedagogical knowledge as well as knowledge of mathematics were the most effective.