What makes an effective teacher?

What makes an effective teacher?

Around the world, aspiring school teachers are graduating from universities and colleges to live the dream of changing the lives of children for the better.

Sadly, it’s not uncommon for these same inspired, well-meaning people to feel jaded by the end of their first year – and reports have shown many early-career teachers simply leave the profession, convinced they cannot handle the job.

However, new research has shed light on ways in which teachers can overcome communication barriers to have a real impact on student learning, engagement and, ultimately, outcomes.

Researchers at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education (MGSE) said it was well known that teachers have a bigger impact on student learning than factors such as class size and facilities.

However, they said that until now it was not clear what types of communication style, beliefs, attitudes and personality were common among high quality teachers.

The systematic review of 52 global studies, undertaken by the Centre for Program Evaluation, identified the key attributes of teachers that are most connected to effective teaching.

“We could categorise these characteristics into some broad areas such as those that are self-reflective, cognitive and more socially related,” lead researcher, Professor Janet Clinton, told The Educator.

“The more self-reflective or attitudinal characteristics include self-efficacy, self-awareness, self-regulation, and motivation and these appear to have a sustained impact on the learning lives of students.”

Clinton referred to high teacher self-efficacy as a case in point.

“It was associated with a positive classroom climate, greater student participation and motivation, enhanced student achievements in science, technology, engineering and maths, and use of deeper teaching and learning methods,” Clinton said.

“High self-efficacy can also lead to teachers having higher expectations about what can be achieved from all students, and this is probably among the more critical beliefs that make real differences to students’ engagement, achievement, and growth.”

Teacher communication style, particularly in promoting an inviting classroom climate as well as motivating the collegiality of teachers to work together was also revealed as essential for teachers, students and the school, said Clinton.

“Developing collective efficacy is currently a very contemporary topic for schools, particularly given its very large effect on the learning of all within the school,” she said.

“How to develop this collective efficacy within a school is an area where more research is needed to understand how to best develop these skills and beliefs, and what school environments can do to support this development.”