Monday, July 08, 2013

What Is The Most Important Characteristic of A Quality Teacher? Connecting With The Students.

Everybody agrees that all classrooms should have a "quality teacher" instructing the students.  However, when you ask the various education reform groups what is a "quality teacher"?  You get vague and unrealistic answers.   If you are Mayor Bloomberg a "quality teacher" to him its a "newbie" that will be a "Teach for America or Teaching Fellow" that cost the least amount and who we leave the profession before getting a pension or retire health benefits.  If it's Bill Gates it's all about being held accountable and under video surveillance.  Especially if it requires the use of "junk science".  If it's ex-Chancellor Joel Klein, it is a teacher that will come in at 7 am and not leave until 7 pm, while not asking for per session.  Finally, to Michelle Rhee a "quality teacher" is one willing to be an at will employee for a few dollars more in their paycheck.In my book a "quality teacher" must posses the following characteristics:

  • At least five years of teaching experience.
  • Good classroom management skills.
  • A deep knowledge of the curriculum.
  • A caring and supportive attitude.
  • A sense of humor
  • A positive connection with the students.
While most education reformers will ignore these requirements publicly, privately they know the above characteristics are necessary to achieve mastery of the classroom.   However, they also know that "quality teachers" require an adequate workload, supportive Administration, and the freedom to try different methods to maximize student learning.  Consequently, this eliminates charter schools, where teacher burnout and turnover is high and in most schools the entire staff is gone in three years.  It also eliminates schools with inexperienced Leadership Academy principals who have limited time in the classroom and are clueless to what good teaching is, and the Bloomberg small schools who are inhabited by untenured staff and burdened with rigid curriculum requirements.  Is it any wonder that the Mayor hates experienced teachers?

Just look at the higher achieving schools, what do most of them have in common?  Right an experienced staff and a supportive Administration that allows the teachers to find the best teaching techniques that allows students to reach their academic potential.  In the school I was in all year, I saw all aspects of good teaching.  A supportive Administration, a stable and experienced teaching staff, and freedom to do the right thing for the students.  When I asked my students what makes a "quality teacher" they almost all said the same thing that the teacher likes and cares about them.  That's right, almost all my students wanted the teacher to connect with them and understand their needs and problems.  One thing they didn't like was for the teacher to be unsupportive or trying to "friend" them.  Both type of teachers turned the students off to learning.  As one girl said to me "I have enough friends. I don't need a teacher to be my friend".  Furthermore, many inexperienced teachers do just that and the students simply walk all over them and these teachers will never master classroom control.  On the other side of the ledger was the teacher who required it to be "my way or the highway attitude".  This type of teacher over controls the classroom , is inflexible, and is resented by the students. Therefore, based upon my many years of experience and discussions with my students while the other factors I listed are important, the most important factor is connecting to the students.  By connecting with the students you gain their respect and give them the confidence that they need to reach their academic goals.

A "quality teacher" is a teacher who can related to the students and guide them to maximize their academic achievement.


Anonymous said...

SO, I have all of these qualities:
At least five years of teaching experience
Excellent classroom management skills in my own classroom
A deep knowledge of the curriculum
A caring and supportive attitude
A sense of humor
A positive connection with the students.

So why am I still an ATR? My salary.

Hellooooo Mayor? Are you listening? ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

Chaz said...

How true. It's the "fair student funding" fiasco that pushes principals to hire the cheapest and not the best teachers.

It takes a quality Principal to do what's right for the students.

Anonymous said...

Right on the money. Nobody wants to hire good teachers if they cost the school money.

Its not about the students its about the Principal's budget.

Anonymous said...

It's too bads the Principal only looks at the money and not the students.

Unknown said...

so excellent post

warm greet

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