What Makes a Great Teacher?

If you have read the blog long, you know I really wonder/consider what makes a great teacher.

Turns out, someone has been researching that very question. Not in higher education, but I think the answers might flow across the great divide anyway.

The Atlantic has an article on what Teach for America has found makes a great teacher.

Here’s just a peek:

First, great teachers tended to set big goals for their students. They were also perpetually looking for ways to improve their effectiveness. For example, when Farr called up teachers who were making remarkable gains and asked to visit their classrooms, he noticed he’d get a similar response from all of them: “They’d say, ‘You’re welcome to come, but I have to warn you—I am in the middle of just blowing up my classroom structure and changing my reading workshop because I think it’s not working as well as it could.’ When you hear that over and over, and you don’t hear that from other teachers, you start to form a hypothesis.” Great teachers, he concluded, constantly reevaluate what they are doing.

Superstar teachers had four other tendencies in common: they avidly recruited students and their families into the process; they maintained focus, ensuring that everything they did contributed to student learning; they planned exhaustively and purposefully—for the next day or the year ahead—by working backward from the desired outcome; and they worked relentlessly, refusing to surrender to the combined menaces of poverty, bureaucracy, and budgetary shortfalls.

It gives me motivation and a direction to move in. I hope it does the same for you.

One thought on “What Makes a Great Teacher?”

  1. Hello Dr. Davis,

    just writing to show my appreciation for your insightful and inspiring blog entries. I’ve been teaching English at a university overseas for 11 years, and am about to repatriate to the U.S. with the hope that I might teach English or World Literature in a community college. I am looking for answers to the very question you pose: What makes a great teacher? Thanks so much!

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