Tuesday, July 19, 2011

One metric of a highly effective teacher

Okay - before I get into today's topic, I just want to give a big shout out to all the people who have enthusiastically emailed or posted regarding my food challenge. The last two days have shown a lot of energy and I'm excited to focus this into some real concrete actions. I'll update later regarding where this boat is heading.

Curious about a metric for highly effective teachers? See that button there? Click it.

Okay. If you're reading this, then you hit the jump. Which means my informal writing style here doesn't bother you like it bothered my college professors.

One of the questions I keep hearing in education reform is "how do you know if someone has the potential to be a highly effective teacher before they start teaching?" This is a nebulous area right? TFA and Teaching Fellow programs are grappling with this - they often recruit the best and the brightest to teach in high needs areas. And there's a lot out there showing success of these programs. But still, what is it about these folks that make great teachers? Support? Innate ability? Let me shed light on what I think is at least one metric of being a great teacher.  

Memory. I believe great teachers have incredible memories. A teacher might laugh at this notion, but when you sit down and think about the number of things a teacher does at once, it requires an inordinate amount of brain power to keep things moving. A good memory means a teacher can circulate while teaching instead of looking at notes (teaching efficiency), can remember where each student is in a project and jump right in without wasting a moment to catch up (time use), and will aid in working with students in crisis by being able to check in with them regardless of having 10 or 300 students to manage (relationship development). Those are just three examples of memory in action, but I could go on and on. Made a believer of you yet? 

TFA and Teaching Fellows often pull from top tier universities - well guess what? I would wager those kids have great memory retention skills. Now, the tricky thing with memory is that it's tied to the intelligence - for instance, in developing a relationship, you're using your interpersonal intelligence to work the conversation and then you're using that memory to recall that information. I'm no psychologist (yet - who knows, I have some years left in me), but I'm guessing memory associates itself with different intelligences - as in, it's easier to recall relationship details if you're an interpersonal intelligence genius. Then again, that might just be learning style or recall style. To be honest, I'm not sure. But there - there's one metric of a highly effective teacher - it's memory. And I'm going out on a limb here by saying you have to be good at it in a number of different situations. Well regardless of my conjecture, memory is measurable. And I'm not talking about taking some memory chunking numbers test, but something with real substance - situational memory and the such. And I bet the data will show those highly effective teachers all have a broad and deep memory.

So, riddle me this Batman - what are the other metrics? How can we measure teachers to be effective, before they even get to the classroom?

1 comment:

  1. Not sure if this is a measurable quality, but tolerance is massively important. So much weird stuff happens in a classroom, and kids have so many strange outbursts, that a person without a sense of humor and a bit of tolerance is out of luck.