Effective Teachers

Effective Teaching comes first.  For students to achieve more, they have to engage with challenging, academically-demanding work.  Teachers have to create the classroom experiences and out-of-class assignments that will get students to engage.  Teachers are consultants, problem-solvers, sellers-of-work, and leaders of learner.  A great school system helps teachers succeed in those roles.

Together, five components can help teachers develop their effectiveness:

  • Commitment by top leadership to teacher-led instructional improvement

  • A structure for collaborative efforts by small teams of teachers to improve instruction

  • Resources, including time and professional development opportunities, to support teacher teams working to improve instruction

  • Clear, measurable  goals set by political leadership

  • Short-term feedback mechanisms, including mechanisms developed by teacher teams, to help teachers judge the success of instructional innovations in moving students toward the long-term goals

Lesson Study provides a structure for teachers to lead in instructional improvement.  Small groups of teachers identify an aspect of student learning which they think they can improve, research what is known about learning in that area, design a lesson to accomplish improved learning, teach that lesson with observation by other group members, analyze the success of the lesson, revise it, demonstrate it for a larger group of teachers, and publish their results.  Then they turn around and do it again.  Learn more at LessonResearch.net or Lesson Study Research Group.

Ultimately, effective teaching should produce results desired by the community.  Political leadership should adopt goals for student engagement and achievement.  Ideally, these goals will be:

  • developed and reviewed through a process of broad community engagement,

  • clear and succinct,

  • measurable,

  • contain specifics addressed to elementary, middle, and high school grades,

  • reasonable in number.

Progress toward these goals should be measured by multiple data sources.  Such data sources can include state accountability programs, but should extend beyond most such programs to include value-added analysis of student achievement data, survey information (1,2), and locally generated achievement data from a variety of sources.  Some of this data can be produced by options such as those offered by the Northwest Evaluation Association.  Other data can be produced from locally developed assessments, collections of teacher observations, etc.  Teacher teams can develop rubrics, tests, and other assessment mechanisms that can provide effective feedback.  However it is accomplished, students, teachers, parents and the community  need consistent, frequent feedback on how students are progressing.

Additional Resources:

"The Mystery of Good Teaching", by Dan Goldhaber

Financing Professional Development in Education

Teacher Evaluation:  New Directions and Practices