The Key Elements Great Teachers Possess

What Makes a Great Teacher by Amanda Ripley is a great article that really dissects the key elements that great teachers possess.

1) “First, great teachers tended to set big goals for their students.”

I agree. I think this is the key to teaching. We need to expect each and every student in our classes to live up to their potential. We also need to realize that this differs from student to student and to not accept anything less that a student’s best work.

2) “They were also perpetually looking for ways to improve their effectiveness.”

I can’t tell you how many times I have tinkered around with my timetable this year because it didn’t seem to be effective for my current class. I finally found a timetable that really works for them. I implemented a nice new visual schedule just a few weeks ago that the students have responded quite well too.

I realize when lessons don’t work and try find different ways to present the same material so that my students can grasp it and be successful.

So far so good. I am doing the things that this article states that great teachers do.

Superstar Teachers

Okay, time to see if I fall into the Superstar Teacher category.

“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.”

– Steven Farr

3) Parent involvement – I have to admit that I am not good at this one. I kind of gave up on getting parents involved because it has been extremely hard. I rarely get many parents out to interview night or the special events we do run at the school. However, I realize that getting the parents and the community on board is an important thing and I will start to try harder to make that happen.

4) Everything must contribute to learning – I don’t do fluff activities in my classroom. I don’t show my students movies that aren’t related to the curriculum. Every activity or lesson I present is founded in the curriculum expectations or is, in my opinion, a useful skill that the students need to learn.

5) Plan exhaustively – I have been told again and again that I am a very organized teacher and that my planning is impeccable. I never leave the school on Friday without having a full week of lesson plans for the following week on my desk. The photocopying is all done a week ahead as well. I have a very detailed year plan that I work on and update constantly. And I also have back-up supply teacher plans ready to go.

6) No excuses, Get it done! – I think I have this attitude as well.

“It’s the mind-set that teachers need—a kind of relentless approach to the problem.”

– Timothy Daly at the New Teacher Project

There’s always a problem or a hurdle to overcome when teaching. It can really get exhausting at times.

I realize that my first goal is to the students. I make sure that my students do their work so that they can learn. I hold them accountable for their actions and their own learning.

My Grade

Of the six traits listed in this article I think I do an excellent job on points 1, 2, 4, and 5.

I think I have some room for improvement on point 6 because I sometimes let certain things slide. Overall though I would say that I do a good job on that one for the most part.

I definitely need improvement on point 3 and I realize that it is something that I really need to work on. I will write a post for an upcoming edition of Teaching Tip Tuesdays to address this issue further.

Your Turn

I hope you are finding my Teaching Tip Tuesdays post useful. Don’t forget to check the Table of Contents for more great tips.

If you have a great idea, website, or teaching practice that you’d like to share, please send me an email and consider writing a guest-post.

Teachers helping teachers is what this is all about. I’d love to hear from you.

3 responses to “The Key Elements Great Teachers Possess”

  1. Hi Chase .. not being a teacher – but it's good to read your tips and ideas. Charisma and connection with the students I guess are major; people just don't want to engage – even parents & you benefit so much from being part of a group – as I learnt late in life from being on the squash club committee when I was in South Africa – opened up a whole new world!

    You do sound organised .. I could do with that over here and my blogging – I'm getting there ..
    Hilary Melton-Butcher
    Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

  2. Hi Hilary,

    I wish that more parents were engaged in what we are doing in the classroom. I need to find ways to make that happen. I know it's my weakness.