Recently, Australian Catholic University Vice-Chancellor, Prof Greg Craven, spoke at the National Press Club on the issue of teacher quality, arguing that the ATAR (tertiary admission rank) is a deficient indicator for selection of candidates into teacher training degrees.
His comments were made in response to the NSW Department of Education’s Great Teaching, Inspired Learning public discussion paper which cited that in NSW in 2012, ‘more than 20% of entrants to undergraduate initial teacher education courses had ATAR scores below 60 and education was the least popular course for students with ATAR scores of 90 or above’. Prof Craven made the point that the ATAR lacked the sophistication to measure the ‘human qualities’ required for teaching.
Everybody’s got an opinion of good teachers. In most of the current literature, there are descriptions of the qualities and characteristics that make a good teacher.
When I think about what makes a good teacher, the following comes to mind.
A good teacher is:
Curious – they want to know more about their craft and know more about the students they work with. They are open to new ideas, new ways of thinking and they take responsibility for their own personal and professional growth and development.
A contributor – they give of themselves and their expertise and, in most cases, without any thought of what they receive in return.
By nature collaborative – they don’t work in isolation and are open to feedback from students and colleagues. They know that by sharing data, practice and experiences with others they will build their own capacity and the capacity of their colleagues.
Daring – they are willing to do things differently, to step outside their comfort zone. They are willing to ask the big questions without knowing the answers. They’re not afraid to fail because they know that’s often when learning occurs.
An expert – they understand that you’re not at the top of your game until you’ve got years and years of good theory and practice under your belt. Throughout their career, they hone their craft because they want to get better. In turn, they become the coaches and mentors for the next generation of teacher to build their profession.
These are a few of my thoughts; I’d be interested to hear some of yours. Let’s see if we can build up a more comprehensive picture of what makes a good teacher.