EdNC – What makes a great teacher?

What makes a great teacher?

By Alex Granados - Posted Nov 11, 2019

What makes a great teacher? It’s a question that parents, superintendents, principals, and even teachers themselves grapple with.

As we have traveled the state, we’ve noticed that there are a lot of ways people think about teachers. And, of course, everyone has a favorite.

Mine was Mr. Hunter. He taught my sixth grade social studies class. What I remember most about him was his sense of humor. At the time, I was into putting a lot of gel in my hair. Perhaps too much. One day, Mr. Hunter came up to me and said, “Son, what are you going to do if a girl wants to run a hand through your hair?”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Her hand’s going to get stuck,” he replied.

It was funny, but it was also true. I laid off the gel shortly thereafter.

Now, I would argue that Mr. Hunter was a great teacher, but the truth is that just because a teacher is your favorite, doesn’t mean that he or she is a good or even great teacher. So, what makes a great teacher?

“By definition, teaching is effective when it enables student learning,” finds the The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in a policy and practice brief on the measures of effective teaching. That seems like a good place to start.

Are they teachers who inspire achievement on tests even in schools with a high degree of poverty? Teachers like Amanda Northrup. She was a teacher at Riverbend Elementary School in Haywood County in 2015. It was one of only 17 schools in the state with 50% or more free and reduced lunch students that received an A on its state report card for 2014.

She talked about the importance of high expectations for her students.

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