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What makes an effective teacher?

1257 words (5 pages) Essay in Education

11/05/17 Education Reference this

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David Cameron’s Conservative Party recently stated that the Tories will be brazenly elitist about candidates entering the teaching profession as they believe that qualifications make a good teacher. [REF]. However, research shows that a teacher’s personal characteristics and teaching styles can also be attributed to effective teaching.

In 1992, Professor Caroline Gipps, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Wolverhampton and leading expert in educational assessment and learning, published ‘What We Know About effective Primary Teaching’. The document suggests that a successful primary teacher:

Focuses on the whole class rather than individuals

Teaches the whole class while offering help to individuals, or co-operative work where children help each other

Teach one subject at a time

Praise children as much as possible

Have high expectations

Encourage challenging talk rather than quiet busy work

Use a variety of teaching styles

Allow children some independence and be democratic rather than autocratic about work and discipline

Matches work to a child’s ability

Effective teaching is a subject that is repeatedly researched and studied.

More recent research shows that good teachers demonstrate a number of characteristics, but there are certain characteristics that underlie the effectiveness of teachers such as empathy and a willingness to work hard. Some people are described as being ‘born to teach’, but the personal and moral characteristics needed to be an effective teacher can be developed through practice, watching other effective teachers and learning from their technique.

A study carried out by Santrock [2001] identified the main characteristics of effective teachers:



Total %


Has a sense of humour



Makes the class interesting



Has knowledge of their subject



Explains things clearly



Spends time to help students



Are fair to their students



Treats students like adults



Relates well to students



Are considerate of students feelings



Don’t show favouritism towards students


Santrock, J. (2001) An Introduction to Educational Psychology, London: McGraw Hill, (p.10)

Although subject knowledge is ranked third, the study overall shows that personal characteristics are key to effective teaching rather than qualifications. Classroom management is also an important factor as an average school week only provides 25 hours of teaching time with students. An effective teacher organises their students, time, environment and resources in a way that maximises learning opportunities.

Effective teachers also motivate and encourage their students to work hard. Through regular assessment and looking closely as what a student is learning and what has been learnt, lessons can be planned accordingly.

Teachers need to cater for the skills, abilities and interests of each student by matching work to the needs of the individual. This avoids giving tasks that are impossible to complete and to avoid giving tasks so easy that students learn nothing.

Pedagogy: shared working atmosphere; awareness of the needs of each pupil; purposeful well organised classroom; celebration of successes. Need to know the needs of individuals and groups as well as how children learn.

“Most teachers teach facts, good teachers teach ideas, great teachers teach how to think”. (Jonathon Pool).

“Teachers have to be facilitators: they cannot do the learning for the student”. (Carl Rogers).

A teacher who likes to explore a subject by using lots of activities can achieve the same success as one who prefers one activity…??

“There is one aspect of personality that no teacher can do without: a willingness to learn and to reflect on teaching”. (The Effective Teacher, p.10).

Failing teachers often lack self awareness and do not quite know what they are doing or if what they are doing is right or wrong. They are defensive about their teaching methods and cannot take criticism, however constructive it is. [Ref]

Define learning 250

Learning can be defined as “The process of accumulation and change that marks our growing sense of knowledge”. (p.14 The Effective Teacher).

Different factors can affect learning and these include the child, the family, society, economy and social structure. Brofenbrenner looked at how children grow up and how that affects the learning process, then linked all of these factors together into his Ecological Systems Theory [1979]. His theory suggests that a child’s development is influenced by the social contexts in which they live, with the three main contexts being a child’s family, peers and school.

The parent and child are placed at the centre of learning.


1.Who the child spends most of their time with is identified and what positive and negative factors that has.


The general external factors that influence the learning environment are looked at.

Constructivist approach to learning

Recall; ability to remember information

Understand the information

Use or apply knowledge in new situations

Break down and interpret information

Putting things together; developing new ideas

Assess effectiveness of whole concepts; critical thinkingBloom’s Taxonomy is a classification of the levels of learning. The cognitive process identifies 6 levels of thought. Based on this theory, the learner has to reach one level before moving on to the next.

When used correctly, Bloom’s Taxonomy can accelerate learning and elevate student interest and achievement, especially for slower learners. [Sousa, D. 2001] How the brain learns

What makes an effective learner? 500

Understanding and thinking about how a person learns can enhance motivation and increase achievement. [REF ]

A person’s learning style is the way he or she concentrates on, processes, internalises and remembers new and difficult academic information or skills. Styles often vary with age, achievement level, culture, global versus analytic processing preference, and gender. [Shaughnessy, 1998].

It is often looked at in terms of a learner’s preference for visual, auditory and kinaesthetic ways of working. [Burton, 2007].

Encourages a learner to think about how he or she learns.

Novice learner:

Do not evaluate their comprehension

Do not examine their comprehension

Do not examine the quality of their work

Do not make connections

Expert learner:

What is the relationship between teaching and learning? 500

Consider which is more important. Actual learning or actual teaching? Support argument with literature and wider reading. 500

There have been many arguments as to which side of the teaching and learning processes are more important. Child centred education – the teacher gives the child opportunities to learn. Teacher centred – stand and present what they know.

Teacher centred education is a traditional approach to teaching where the teacher presents facts to the student by direct instruction. The teacher is at the centre and in charge.

Student centred education is a more modern approach where the learner is at the centre of learning and the teacher acts as a facilitator, guiding the student and giving opportunities to learn.

Bennett, 1976

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