What Makes an Effective Teacher

In my years as a student I have had many effective teachers. I have also experienced the consequences of having ineffective teachers. I remember when I was in school students fell within two categories. Category one consisted of the regular education students. Category two was the special education students. There was no in between. You did not hear the term “learning disability.” The special education students included children with severe disabilities. Their classroom was a building placed in the back of the school where they were segregated from the general school population. I suppose the school system thought that they were best kept out of sight and out of mind.

I was a good student In school but I struggled with math. In today’s school system I would probably have been diagnosed with a learning disability. I could not seem to grasp the math concepts as fast as the teacher taught them. In high school I had an ineffective teacher that spent one class period explaining a new math concept. If you did not understand you were on your own. I spent every night re-teaching myself how to solve the problems. Because of the bad experience I had with math in high school, I feared taking math in college. The difference from learning math in college was that I had well educated professors that took the time to explain the concept and would not move on to another lesson until the entire class understood.

An effective teacher needs to understand their students and be able to recognize when a student needs assistance. Times have changed since I was in school. No longer does the “one size fit all” rule work in education. Each student is an individual and being an individual means each student has different needs. To be effective the teacher needs to be aware of these differences and find ways to meet the individual needs of students.

One of the most effective teachers I had in school had the ability to form bonds with his students. Everyday he came into class with a big smile on his face. His enthusiasm was infectious. Because he was so enthusiastic about teaching I was enthusiastic about learning. Another quality he had was compassion. He was very compassionate about his students and took the time to make each student feel special.

Effective teachers also need to be knowledgeable of their subject. If the teacher is not knowledgeable students will be not be confident in their teaching skills. Teachers also need to possess the ability to change plans if needed. Many times in a school day events occur that may require the teacher to change their routine. Finding ways deal with these unforeseen events is a quality an effective teacher must possess.

Most importantly, an effective teacher needs to be able to assess the strategies they are using in the classroom. Sometimes ideas, concepts and strategies don’t work. They may look good on paper but they may not be as effective as the teacher had anticipated. An effective teacher would realize that their teaching style is not working and find ways to adjust their style to make learning easier for students.