What makes an effective teacher?
By Linh Phung
English Language Program Director
ELP teachers and students celebrating the success of summer 1
At the end of the first summer session, teachers in the English Language Program gathered to share their thoughts on English language teaching. One research-based finding from Alina’s presentation is that the “variable” that impacts students’ learning the most is the teacher in the classroom. Then what characteristics make an effective teacher? Does the teacher need to be a native speaker of the language that they are teaching? Marina’s presentation convincingly argues that the answer to this question is “no.” What makes teachers effective is not their nativeness. What is more important is their language expertise, professional training, and how they can create learning opportunities for students. Rachel describes a lesson where she was in a “teaching grove.” In that lesson, her passion and energy merged with the students’ and brought them all to a state of “flow.” This is a psychological state when everyone is totally absorbed in what they are doing and greatly enjoy themselves. Brigette brings up the idea that extensive reading for pleasure may be a good way to engage students and even help them to experience “flow.” In addition, when students enjoy reading, they may seek more opportunities to do so on their own. What can be a better outcome than that? Clearly, there are certain characteristics that good teachers and good teaching should exhibit, but teaching cannot be done to a formula. Teachers need to continuously reflect on and examine their practices to understand how they affect students’ engagement and learning.
One thought on “What makes an effective teacher?”
This quote from The Courage to Teach came to my mind when reading the post:
“… The techniques I have mastered do not disappear, but neither do they suffice. Face to face with my students, only one resource is at my immediate command: my identity, my selfhood…” (Palmer, 1988, p. 10).
In a nutshell, good teaching comes from teacher identity.