Article from the Series: Essentials for Effective New Teachers
“Development of effective teachers” has become a common goal in education—I would even say, it is a catchphrase. Internet lists of teacher qualities inspire us; merit pay motivates us; mentorships instruct us; administrators inspect and evaluate us. Responsibility for and expectations of “effectiveness” have been heaped upon us teachers.
When we turn the calendar page to June and reflect on the school year, would any of us be so bold as to say, “I was an effective teacher this year”? The ageless question haunts— “How would I even know if I had achieved this enigmatic quality of ‘effectiveness’?”
As an educator, I have wrangled with how to gauge my own effectiveness against the measuring rods of the stakeholders—the students’ expectations vs. the research.
When Pearson surveyed students ages 15-19, they found that students value a teacher’s “ability to develop relationships with their students; patient, caring and kind personality; knowledge of learners; dedication to teaching” etc. https://www.pearsoned.com/top-five-qualities-effective-teachers/ Educational research indicates that effective teachers have a broad base of knowledge, plan, communicate, measure learning, create an environment for learning, and behave as professionals. http://www.ascd.org/Publications/Books/Overview/Qualities-of-Effective-Teachers-3rd-Edition.aspx
Caring, understanding, and dedication are hard to measure; so, I’ve started looking at what I can measure.
Is it possible that the most loving, most caring thing I can do for my students is to start class on time all 180 days?
When I’ve required and evaluated weekly milestones that led up to a synthesized final project, have I demonstrated my knowledge of learners?
Does my ability to avoid getting sidetracked demonstrate that I love teaching and I love my subject matter too much to surrender my class time for an inferior cause.
Does my strict adherence to the highest standards of ethics show students the proper boundaries of the teacher/student relationship?
When I hear out my students without over talking with my agenda, have I demonstrated that communication is both speaking and listening?
I’m not sure…
Becoming “effective” can feel unattainable; however, I can start class on time; I can give assignments that set students up to succeed; I can keep class engaging and fast paced; and I can behave ethically. I can learn effective teaching practices.
When I measure my effectiveness as an educator by observable and the measurable practices, I can see where I’ve failed and where I’ve succeeded. Then, I become the learner and start working again on consistently demonstrating the teaching practices that work.