MECS Blog

Characteristics of an Effective Teacher

Characteristics of an Effective Teacher

Thursday, 2 March 2017  | Di - Assistant Principal - Primary
We often wonder why some students achieve at school and others don’t. What is it that makes the difference in student learning and what are the major factors that affect student achievement?

According to John Hattie (educational researcher) it is the students themselves that account for about 50% of the variance in student achievement. Home and school account for between 5-10% of the variance. Contrary to what we might think it does not matter too much who you go to school with; the influence of peers is minimal at around 5-10%. Apart from the students themselves it is teachers who are one of the most influential factors in student achievement. It is what teachers know, do and care about that accounts for about 30% of the variance.

“Teachers can and usually do have positive effects, but they must have exceptional effects. We need to direct attention at higher quality teaching, and have higher expectations that students can meet appropriate challenges.” John Hattie (as quoted by Narelle in professional learning input to staff January 2017)

Over the last week Karissa and I have been in Sydney learning about a program that we hope will encourage our teachers to impact our student’s learning in significant ways. The program assists teachers to have a greater understanding of their skills by giving them very specific feedback that will enable them to improve their practice. Through a comprehensive observation and feedback instrument teachers are assisted to identify their own understanding of what is happening as they teach and in turn they receive specific feedback from a mentor identifying a range of factors influencing their teaching. This includes what is happening in the learning environment and the level of attention students are applying and the specifics around what the teacher is saying and doing that may or may not enhance learning.

The program is called ‘8 People’ and was developed by Kevin K, the founding Director of the New Zealand Graduate School of Education. The program has proven to be a very effective tool to further develop both graduate and experienced teachers to be the best they can be at their craft. www.8people.org

Kevin asserts there are 8 characteristics of an effective teacher. These characteristics are held in tension with each other. In order for a highly effective learning environment the teacher needs to develop these characteristics in sync with each other. Through the feedback model teachers learn which areas they are skilled in and which areas need to be developed.

The areas are defined as...
Relationship Builder
Actions taken to build constructive relationships with those for whom the person is responsible.

Captain
Actions taken to be in charge of those for whom the teacher is responsible.

These two personas work together to establish the learning environment. The teacher uses his or her interpersonal skills to constructively make connections with students and build relationship. As Captain the teacher uses management: to be in charge. The teacher uses a range of tools to captain their ship gaining the full attention of their students and creating a safe and positive learning environment. A successful learning environment will see these two personas in balance.

Analyst
Actions taken to conduct assessment, to analyse assessment, and to plan for subsequent learning by those for whom the person is responsible.

Scholar
Actions taken to demonstrate the knowledge and wisdom required by people to carry out their respective roles.

Coach
Deliberate acts carried out by the teacher to cause learning for students.

Empowerer
Actions to empower students to exercise more responsibility for their own learning.

Colleague
Actions taken by the person to support colleagues, to support the running of the school, and to support the mission of the school. 

Self
Personal characteristics that impact on the person’s work.

We have been privileged as a school to not only attend the CEN workshop in Sydney but also to have Kevin visit and work with us last week to apply the theoretical knowledge of his ‘8People’ program in our classrooms. On Thursday and Friday last week a number of our teachers took the opportunity to be observed by Kevin, graciously allowing us to visit their classrooms. They helped both Karissa and myself to become more competent at making observations and at using the tools from ‘8People’. We are proud of the way MECS teachers are so open to learn, develop and improve their teaching craft.

At MECS we will continue to explore how ‘8People’ might assist us to improve student learning and to enhance our practice, making that 30% difference count!
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