What Makes a Great Teacher?

We’ve tackled the notion of teaching before, in many different forms, but never so thoroughly as Teach for America. And as President Obama prepares to overhaul “No Child Left Behind”, it’s worth re-examining the crucial aspect of teaching in the equation.

Teach for America, having analyzed 20 years of data, has found that great teachers had trained in their subject areas rather than in education, and had high “life satisfaction.” They also demonstrated five tendencies:

“constantly reevaluate what they are doing… 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.”

This last trait is measured by the Grit Scale, which has been shown to predict good outcomes in both teachers and West Point cadets.

Interestingly enough, however, is that Teach for America is an organization that takes people without teaching experience and trains them on the job.  I’m not saying that their results should be taken with a grain of salt, only that it’s curious the results match the mission of the group.  [via]

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