Research consistently shows that teacher quality—whether measured by content knowledge, experience, training and credentials, or general intellectual skills—is strongly related to student achievement: Simply, skilled teachers produce better student results.
Teacher effectiveness-defined as the contribution a teacher makes to his or her students’ achievement- is perhaps the most important teacher quality.
The following features of effective teaching are from ‘Geography-Learning to make a world of difference’, a report drawn by Ofsted from visits to 90 secondary schools in England between 2007 and 2010.
- Teachers’ high expectations ensured positive responses from students; for example, when they expected well-informed answers to their questions they received them.
- Work was interesting and dealt with contemporary issues and developments; teachers stayed up-to-date and incorporated news broadcasts and articles from newspapers or journals into lessons.
- The clear structure of lessons and the reinforcement of learning objectives meant that it was clear what was expected and how the task should be approached. Teachers made the lesson objectives, the learning that was expected and any key questions explicit to students at the beginning of each lesson and referred to these frequently during the lesson.
- High-quality questioning was well-targeted, ensuring that all students were involved.
- There was an intensity in the pace of learning in the lessons with no slack time.
- Compiling helpful revision notes was a continuing part of the course. Revision booklets and revision support groups ensured that all students entered examinations confident that they could succeed. In one of the schools visited, an online blog was maintained by the head of department, and further stimulated learning. This included up-to-date revision materials as well as interesting ideas to explore. Many of the GCSE students had downloaded material from the blog for revision which helped them to fit extra learning into busy schedules.
- In examination classes, lessons went beyond the basic requirements of the syllabus, with ideas that developed thinking, demonstrated outcomes and enriched the students’ geographical vocabulary.
- Each unit of work identified opportunities for students to consolidate and enhance cross-curricular skills such as literacy, numeracy, ICT and practical citizenship.
- The best lessons were frequently enhanced by interesting visual resources and presentations from a wide range of software and internet sites. ‘Real-time’ web-based resources and materials from websites such as ‘YouTube’ engaged students and emphasised the relevance and value of geography.
- Formative assessment, through a variety of means, was an integral part of each lesson and self-assessment was promoted.
If you want to know a bit more about the characteristics of Effective Teachers, read this page from Stanford University: Characteristics of effective teachers