Teacher Training"What Makes a Great Teacher?," an article by Amanda Ripley in the January/February 2010 issue of The Atlantic, is well worth a read.
Here are two key paragraphs in which Ripley summarizes findings of research conducted by Teach for America that investigated the characteristics of highly effective teachers:
First, great teachers tended to set big goals for their students. They were also perpetually looking for ways to improve their effectiveness. For example, when Farr [the Teach for America researcher and trainer] called up teachers who were making remarkable gains and asked to visit their classrooms, he noticed he’d get a similar response from all of them: “They’d say, ‘You’re welcome to come, but I have to warn you I am in the middle of just blowing up my classroom structure and changing my reading workshop because I think it’s not working as well as it could.’ When you hear that over and over, and you don’t hear that from other teachers, you start to form a hypothesis.” Great teachers, he concluded, constantly reevaluate what they are doing.In addition to reporting on the distinguishing characteristics of highly effective teachers, Ripley discusses how Teach for America's approach to hiring has evolved over time in response to research findings. You can read Teach for America's own summary of what they're looking for when they hire by clicking here.
Superstar teachers had four other tendencies in common: they avidly recruited students and their families into the process; they maintained focus, ensuring that everything they did contributed to student learning; they planned exhaustively and purposefully for the next day or the year ahead by working backward from the desired outcome; and they worked relentlessly, refusing to surrender to the combined menaces of poverty, bureaucracy, and budgetary shortfalls.