Monday, May 23, 2011

It's All About Effectiveness - so what is it - what's the key?

Keys To Effective Teaching
We're busy reading and discussing some pretty interesting ideas and issues at the moment in my study.  Effectiveness has sparked some really interesting debate, and don't even let me get started on 'authentic' - I will save that for another post.

Our latest discussion has centered around what makes an effective teacher.  We've read a lot, discussed and debated our thinking, challenged ideas and beliefs.

'Effectiveness' of a teacher is still something I am always arguing with myself about. Is it becoming all about test scores and meeting standards? Is it deeper than that? Is an effective teacher one who can inspire and motivate students who may not have been inspired or motivated? What if these students don't meet the standards, or don't pass an exam / test, but love school and learning for the first time through the encouragement and support of a teacher? Isn't that being 'effective'? 

What, to you, makes an 'effective' teacher?


  1. Awesome question Justine. In my humble opinion, being an 'effective' teacher is as simple as connecting with each learner! To me it is about getting to know the learner, where they are at, what they are interested in, what and how they want/need to learn. I am in the middle of my assignment - stating my preferred (online) learning environment for 2014. Today's reading really inspired me -
    To me, being effective is connecting, empowering and enabling the learner to be all that they can be, and having a whole lot of fun along the way!
    Anne K

  2. Thanks Anne! It's certainly provoking some discussion in our papers. I agree that connecting with the learner is so important. Love your thinking - off to check out your link! Thanks for sharing that too. :-)

  3. I almost thought about using Justice Stewart's line that I know an effective teacher when I see it.

    But I think you hit the nail on the head that it depends on how you define effective. Teachers who get high test scores could be effective, teachers who turn a kid onto learning after years of being disengaged are effective. Perhaps it comes back to the idea that an effective teacher is one who responds to students needs?

  4. Hi, Justine. I found your tweet and read your post. It is very thought-provoking . . . To me, "effective teachers" are those who constantly reflect on, monitor, and keep changing their beliefs. The change in teaching beliefs, in turn, changes teaching practices. They may also have "flexibility" (in terms of teaching practice) to respond and serve students/learners' needs . . . hmmm . . .

  5. Thanks for responding TT! :-) I'm really enjoying the discussion on this. I thinking you make a very good point about being responsive. I wonder if that is the key. I'm reading lots of research at the moment that looks at teacher 'effectiveness' but some of it seems to miss this, or it rates lower down the list.

  6. Thanks for following up the discussion Nagamine! Nice to meet you. I like your ideas about constantly changing and reflecting. Look forward to reading your ideas about 'authentic' learning - that's a very interesting debate we're having in one of the papers!
    Please feel free to follow and join in the discussions. I really enjoy reflecting on my practice and the comments and questions from others are a fantastic way to challenge thinking. :-)

  7. I believe effectiveness has to do with raising motivation rather than getting brilliant scores. Learning is a life-long process and I just feel happy when I manage to make kids aware of this.

  8. Hi Paco. Thanks for joining in the discussion. Motivation is my other research focus so your comment interests me. I absolutely believe that if you can motivate, then you can engage. Also agree that it's not just about the scores. Discussed this with some other students last night.
    Please feel free to follow and join in the discussions. :-)

  9. I believe that an effective teacher is someone who can get into the heads of their students and use what use the interests, beliefs and experiences of their students to build a bridge into the unknown. Students are too often ask to discount everything that comes from their own sphere of experience as irrelevant which only turns the classroom into a tug of war.

  10. Thanks so much for joining in the discussion DogisRed. Very wise words and I think that this happens far too often - students lives outside of school become disjointed from what happens in school. If clearer links were made, then school and learning might be seen as one in the same, and might become more relevant and motivating, both for students and teachers.

  11. Hi Justine,

    Enjoyed your posting and the in-coming comments. I think it depends very much on context and the learner profile. Nevertheless effective teachers are sensitive to these variations, connect with students, create a learning environment of trust, understanding and playfulness - without losing their role as teacher (this can be quite relevant in some cultures). Students quickly pick up if a teacher really cares about their success or whether they are there only to collect a pay-cheque at the end of the month. Effective teachers know that there are good days and not so good days and are able to change the pace accordingly. I'm not so sure whether we can give motivation to learners but an effective teacher can connect, tune in to their needs (even if that means adapting different learning approaches that the teacher wishes to implement) and once there is a connection, an effective teacher can lead learners to where they need to go in terms of course achievement. I've come to hesitate on motivation but certainly believe in connecting then leading (especially with students with very low motivation levels).

  12. Hi Ana Cristina,

    Thanks so much for your comment. I've enjoyed this discussion too. I agree that it's important to be sensitive to students' needs. I think cultural differences must play an important role here too. This is something I need to read more about.
    I also agree that we can't give motivation to students but I believe we can encourage our students to be self-motivated by the way we teach and learn with them.

  13. Here are two links worth sharing on this subject.

    First, Chris Lehmann on 'What makes a great teacher?:

    And then Bud Hunt with 'An Open Letter to Teachers':

    Both of these contribute more than I could on my own.

  14. Hi David. Thanks so much for the links - brilliant.