Friday, May 8, 2009

Weighing Teacher Effectiveness

As I began to think more about the topic of determining whether a teacher was effective, I noticed that I have accumulated a few books on the subject. And I know that I've read through some of them, because they have my characteristic underlining, squiggling, asterisks, check marks, and sidebar notations. Some of the books I have are:
Fiore, D. J. & Whitaker, T. (2005). Six types of teachers: Recruiting, retaining and mentoring the best. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education.
Stronge, J. H. (2002). Qualities of effective teachers. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Tucker, P.D. & Stronge, J. H. (2005) Linking teacher evaluation and student learning. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

I am certain there is much in each of these books and many other texts that can help us to measure the effectiveness of a teacher. However, I believe there is a simpler method of determining a teacher's effectiveness, at least on a personal level. At the end of the day, every teacher needs to answer one important question:
"Was I the type of teacher that I would want my own children to have?
When I think about the type of teacher I wanted my children to have, I wanted someone who forgave my children when they made mistakes but held them accountable to the reasonable consequences of their actions.

I wanted someone who called my children to attention when they misbehaved but did not scream at them, belittle them, or destroy their self-confidence in the process.

I wanted someone who encouraged my children to take chances and to learn on their own, to experience that mistakes are part of the learning process. I did not want someone who declared that the only right answers were the ones she held in the back of the teacher's edition of the textbook.

I wanted someone who had compassion, who saw my child as a child even when he was seventeen, who listened more than she spoke, who looked for ways to make my child successful even when he struggled.

And if I, as a teacher, can meet the expectations of what I wanted for my own children when I was working with the children of other parents, then I know that I am a good teacher.

Dr. Daggett of the International Center for Leadership in Education speaks of rigor, relevance, and relationships as key to improving the quality of education. I agree. However, I suggest that relationships come first. Because kids really do not care about what you know, until they know that you care.