That a teacher must be well versed in the curriculum is a given, but an effective teacher must also be able to convey their knowledge of the subject matter, and instil in the student the enthusiasm to learn it. In one way, the effective teacher accomplishes this task buy investing a little bit of their own enthusiasm in their students.
We can all recall examples of teachers who motivated us to learn, and unfortunately, those as well that were a deterrent to our edification. No matter what the subject is, an effective teacher will find a way to make it interesting to the diversity of attitudes and individual intellectual paradigms representative of the student population in the class. Put another way, the effective teacher will take the initiative to get to know each student, status of character or lack thereof and other unique attributes of the students persona, developing a strategy geared to speak directly to that student. Since all students are different, the effective teacher will do a little bit of homework themselves, devising unique tactical imperatives to effect a positive outcome for each student.
Based on the forgoing, it might appear that being an effective teacher is a demanding profession, and this is only the half of it. Beyond just accommodating the individual needs of the student body, today’s teacher must navigate a minefield of curriculum directives, social edicts, and establishment mandates which can only be seen as impediments to their effectiveness. Nevertheless, the effective teacher will, and must, somehow find a way to buttress themselves with autonomous fortification, establishing and maintaining a sense of command over the student body, their parents, and the central governing hierarchy over them; i.e. the administration and school board.
But the effective teacher who has earned the respect and admiration of the student body need not despair, as the vindication of their investment and effort will quickly show in the success of their students. The beautiful thing is, that just one or two effective teachers surrounded by a morass of mediocre or ineffective ones, having once instilled the desire to learn in their students, prepares them for success in the rest of their educational experience, and in life beyond it as well.
Perhaps the most disheartening fact, is that society at large-at least American society, doesn’t seem to place the value on a strong secular education it did just a generation or so ago, the kind of education system that has made America the superpower of the world, and the epitome of freedom to all other nations. As school budgets are cut, stringent curricular mandates are imposed, and teachers salaries loose ground against the backdrop of an inflating economy, attracting effective teachers to the profession becomes a dismal proposition. It stands to reason, if we want effective teachers, we must be effective in providing an education system that will reward effective teachers for the great sacrifices and personal investment required of them.
In short, if you want your children or grand children to have effective teachers, support those teachers by electing politicians who are interested in improving our education system not destroying it. You can’t test effectiveness into a teacher, you can only provide an environment that will nurture teacher growth and proficiency. Relentless budget cutting only increases class sizes and diminishes the return on investment of tax dollars. In the final assessment, the primary quality of effective teachers is to have an environment conducive to effective teaching, and my fellow Americans, this is a quality that rests not on the teachers shoulders, but on the shoulders of each and every citizen.