"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."

~Neale Donald Walsch~

Thursday, 4 July 2013

What is driving teacher quality?

There has been much research and chatter on social media about what it takes to be a quality teacher. We are a society that is driven by quantitative information and access to reliable data that may indicate the education standard of our children and young people. A study in 2011 by  team of researchers from the University of Western Sydney has spent more than two years finding out, as part of a study into how teachers can boost students' opportunities for success.

"The teachers they looked at were creative in the classroom. They saw no limits to what their students could learn or how much they could achieve, and believed teaching was most effective when it related to students' interests and experiences." (SMH, 14/06/11)

This particular study looked at students from disadvantaged backgrounds and the impact quality teaching had on these students. I don't think it really matters where a quality teacher is working the fundamentals remain the same. Creative, innovative, experienced and confident teachers that are able to connect and engage with students seems to be the qualities that stand out. There is no doubt that teachers have an enormous influence on young people and there influence will often be life long. 

Education lecturer Joanne Orlando also adds from the study that the teachers involved in the research worked hard to instill in their students a desire to learn and succeed, and ''were so passionate about learning, it was catching''.

The teachers were also flexible, offering variety in their lessons and tailoring lessons to suit the students' progress and abilities. Children might choose what materials they worked with, where they sat, or tackle hands-on lessons.

''The children in their classes told us how happy they were, how much they were learning, they showed lots of confidence in their problem solving and learning new things independently,'' Dr Orlando said.

Image by iqoncept @ bigstockphotos.com
What I find enormously encouraging from this statement is the passion and love of learning that is sparked by the teacher and flows onto the student. It is very easy in the business of life to lose site of the excitement and enjoyment we feel when we learn and it is so important that we model this to our students. On the last lesson of one of the courses I taught on last term we finished with some creative writing. We completed a number of activities and finished with a final creative writing piece. So moved we were by the range of interesting responses within the class we all were all silent for about 1 min as we took in the shared creative time we had just shared. It is these moments that helps drive my passion for learning when students rise above there own expectations and share in a moment of pure joy and expression of who they are and we could share in how far they have come on their learning journey. 

 I hope my own professional learning journey will continue for many years to come. I still get excited when I learn something new from colleagues, students, family, my kids, friends,  life or social media friends. I love reading and exploring new ideas and love to have conversation about many different topics in life. I get a buzz out of learning and I strive to help my students to also seek to find enjoyment and satisfaction from learning. 

Image by Raywoo @ Bigstock photos.com
So as part of my learning journey I want to meet up with other professionals who also share my passion. It's very easy to be insular and isolated when you are in your classroom and you just have your students and you flow in and out of the staff room and classroom each and every day. I have realised it is so important to be encouraged and connected with other teachers and professionals. I have enjoyed my teaching more because the sharing has been so rich. I do hope I can meet and connect with many teachers at Central Coast Teach Meet and continue to share with others the passion I hold so dearly.

It is an enormous privilege to be a teacher and I feel humbled by the many opportunities that have been granted to me during my life. If you are a Central Coast Teacher then please join us on the 26th July for Central Coast Teach Meet and share the wonderful things that have been happening in your classrooms. 

Favorite sites for the week:

A Beginner’s Guide to Creating iPhone Videos for the Virtual Classroom

Until next week,

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