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.
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.