Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Now and Then: Immeasurable Qualities of Teacher Effectiveness


    Is an excellent teacher really definable? How can a truly effective teacher be characterized? In the old days of education, there were no "highly qualified" teachers.


   Really? Of course there were... and here are just some of the past teaching greats.

     Confucius (561 B.C) was the first well-know private instructor who also wrote the book, Analects. Confucius believed that a leader needed to be humble. A true leader shows compassion and empathy toward others. He wrote how families and the general public should act. In doing so, Confucius began the basis for educational ideals. A notorious Confucius writing declared,


   "What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others."

  •    The Pilgrims (1635) presented their students with reading, writing and religion in the New World.

             Highly Qualified Teachers Had To...

                             In the 1800's
  •   impress the school board of their moral character
  •    succeed on tests of reading, writing, and arithmetic for a state certificate
  •    triumph on later subject tests added: U.S. history, geography, spelling, and grammar
  •    enroll in Normal schools to prepare for instruction and teaching certificates based on multifarious and disconnected topics
        By the twentieth century, noted education schools fought for school improvement. However, there were no effective teaching practices to mentor new teachers. The debate continued on needed subject matters, teaching methods, assessments and research methods.

Even today, teachers get the impression that the latest in education research may conflict with other well-known and seemingly ideal practices.




   In the heyday of  NCLB,  the most sought after education remedy by the general public, polls and in educational departments was the issue of... teacher quality.

     So, ideally, unqualified teachers are a challenge of the past, right? Educators are now critically examined by multiple state testing and an administrator's sometimes very vauge opinions during occasional drop-ins and evaluations. Perhaps, teaching assessments could even be mainly about "politics" in some school districts. 


    States continue to show how poor and minority children are not (illegally) instructed by "inexperienced, unqualified, or out-of-field teachers". Unfortunately, research implicates that administrators at high-needs schools gravitate toward hiring the least qualified and the least experienced. So, what can this mean?


                                      Into the Future

       Based on the past history of powerful teachers, teaching efforts, and our present circumstances, high quality teachers should not only acquire and maintain content knowledge and teaching skills. Competent instructors should also focus on :

  •      caring services to students, free of biased and discriminatory practices

  •      holistic development for each student

  •      allowing students to learn to exercise their own judgement 

  •      stressing moral education, so that students understand important interaction guidelines


          In looking towards the future, elected school board members might want to actively search for teachers and administrators who substantiate moral character, which to me (and many others) is a first priority. Teachers should have an aptitude for teaching subject matter, of course, as shown by certification and other tested credentials.

        Yet,  teaching skills and subject matter are acquired professionalisms which are continuously being changed and developed. The teachers that convey moral character will adapt to changes in order to better their skills, such as in technology, mentoring students, and advancing their community away from the tides of poverty and oppression.


         All one has to do is look around the county for real statistics.

    • businesses & employment in the county

    • condition of community facilities

    • crime rates

    • high school drop out rates to include children in middle school (and not just high school)

    • teaching credentials to include unique experiences and assistances within a diverse culture or community

    • be less concerned with teacher multiple choice tests, essays and college grade point averages and be very much concerned about hiring caring professionals with character

    • ratio of students of ethnic backgrounds to teachers of similar ethnic backgrounds (very important) 

    • drug use and abuse issues in townships

    • diverse teachers and administrators from various backgrounds, locations, universities and states 

        There is much more real life statistics not listed, but this kind of information might answer questions and determine how well a school system educates their students. 

        Our education status should not be rated solely on how students are doing on any one state or international muliple choice test, as it is now. After all, how does yearly testing impact the adult world of work in most jobs? 

       Children rely on adults to make great teaching happen in their schools. If our kids are not doing well in evaluations or even state and international tests, dropping out, unhappy, not fitting in, being bullied or yelled at, whose fault is it?


                                The problem might not be the children.

        Our educational system supports our economy. If our children have the skills and appropriate moral attitudes after completing high school and/or college, they and others will flourish not only in the work world, but in raising families and in building better communities.


        Biography.com. (2017). Confucius: Philosopher. Retrieved from


        Hirsch, S. (2017). History of teaching as a profession. Retrieved from   http://classroom.synonym.com/history-teaching-profession-6458025.html?ref=Track2&utm_source=IACB2C

        Ravitch, D. (2003). A brief history of teacher professionalism:
    White House conference on preparing tomorrow's teachers. Retrieved from

        Schuster, B.S. (2012). Highly qualified teachers: Moving forward from Renee V. Duncan. Harvard Journal on Legislation, 49, 141-173.

       The Alberta Teachers'  Association. (2012). Nature of  teaching and teaching as a profession. Retrieved  from https://www.teachers.ab.ca/About%20the%20ATA/Governance/PolicyandPositionPapers/Position%20Papers/Pages/Nature%20of%20Teaching%20and%20Teaching%20as%20a%20Profession.aspx#the-nature-of-teaching

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