You Make a Difference
What makes an effective teacher? This was the topic of conversation I had with a group of high school juniors and seniors, a few months ago, who are considering the field of education as a profession. I asked the students to work in pairs to identify characteristics of teachers they believed to be effective. Interestingly, the lists the students created related very closely to what research says are the qualities of an effective teacher. The students listed such things as caring, patient, engaging, enthusiastic, organized, prepared, professional, dedicated and willing to help when students were struggling. Their extensive lists reminded me of Robert Marzano’s research on effective teachers.
Robert Marzano states, “A classroom teacher is probably the single most powerful influence on student achievement that is within the control of the educational system.” His research indicates that;
“Most effective teachers produce gains of about 53 percentage points in student achievement over a year, whereas the least effective teachers produce achievement gains of about 14 percentage points over one year." (Marzano, 2003)
So, what makes an effective teacher? Marzano has identified 3 characteristics of an effective teacher. First, an effective teacher has a toolbox of research-based instructional strategies to use with students. Effective teachers have clear goals, engage students in the learning process and provide timely feedback to students. Effective teachers plan for instruction that deepen student understanding and increases transfer of knowledge.
Marzano also identified successful classroom management skills as a trait of an effective teacher. Effective teachers establish and maintain rules and procedures that are necessary for a positive learning environment. An effective teacher takes into consideration and plans for the physical environment of the classroom as well. Effective teachers develop positive relationships with students. They greet students by name when they walk into the classroom and engage in informal conversations with their students. They let their students know they care.
Finally, Marzano states that an effective teacher has a classroom curriculum design with clear learning goals. Students receive multiple exposures to new concepts and have many opportunities to practice new skills. In addition, students have opportunities to engage in complex interactions with knowledge to ensure transfer of knowledge.
Research is clear that effective teachers impact student achievement. You do make a difference!