What Makes a Great Teacher?

If you are a teacher you need to read Amanda Shipley’s essay in the recent issue of The Atlantic.

What makes a great teacher? Shipley suggests that “we have never identified excellent teachers in any reliable, objective way. Instead, we tend to ascribe their gifts to some mystical quality that we can recognize and revere—but not replicate. The great teacher serves as a hero but never, ironically, as a lesson.”

Until now, that is.

Shipley was given access to an extensive study done by Teach for America on the practices that go into “great teaching,” especially in underprivileged areas. According to this study,

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.

Sounds like some good advice for college professors as well.

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