Moore (2004:51) identifies three dominant educational discourses which outline features of good teachers and good teaching. These positions are respectively the charismatic, competent and reflective teacher and each has an interesting historical framework. Since it is evidently important that good teachers recognise the impacts of their decisions, what makes a good teacher is mandatory reading for the ensuing classes. It is also an important topic for all educators to read and become conversant with. I am looking forward to our 2009/2010 internationally stimulated growth among newly qualified teachers and teacher trainees. While it is a challenge to determine which views are derived from which source, questions of good teaching indicate different ideas about the subject. Some of the nagging questions concerning teaching approach are: different indexes of quality of learning; the idea of a sound pedigree; as well as student participation in a range of literary texts.
In general, some keys principles that promote high quality learning, include subject and content mastery; a strong knowledge base; excellent verbal, written and interpersonal communication skills; personal rapport building skills, capacity to connect with learners and openness to allow learners to connect with the teacher An ability to consistently provide students with meaningful feedback information about the quality of their learning is a valuable skill. Educators promote the opportunity for students to do more, if they indeed encourages risk taking, admits doesn’t know all the answers
Other qualities include flexibility in one’s role as a teacher, comfortably able to move from lucid instructor, to manager and facilitator of group work or research projects. Furthermore, the good teacher is able to work as a collaborator with students and construct meaning with them; role model for students as an effective learner, present as someone who knows how to locate, manage and organise information purposefully for specific learning needs. The good representative teacher can witness the role model teacher, indicating that a good teacher is an excellent life-long learner, empowered by curiosity and realizing we never ‘arrive’ at the font of all wisdom. The good teacher can critically reflect upon one’s own teaching practices, using self-evaluation habits and techniques to improve work quality. They are able to engage students in their own learning processes in ways that remain meaningful to students.
The charismatic teacher: strengths and weaknesses
The charismatic teacher is known for the use of their personality to make a significant impact upon students. They leave indelible impressions on the some of the young people in the educational care, not only exuding a passion for the subject matter that seems limitless, but also displaying such enthusiasm in a way that is infectious, causing students with far less knowledge of the subject matter or relevant life experience, to have their curiosity for learning deeply stirred as a result of being in the teacher’s presence. Such charismatic teachers emit an atmosphere of confident belief in the value of their enterprise as educators. This confidence often strikes a chord with many students, who are not intellectually awakened in anything like the same manner by most of their other teachers. The intensity of the charismatic teacher nurtures a spirit of awakening interest in students, who seem to ride the crest of the wave of intellectual passion, established by the ideal teacher.
In spite of the official guidance that children and adults should not be swayed by the force of personality or let that shape one’s interests or feed one’s talents, in practice, teacher with effervescent personalities who are infused with joy or wonder by their own teaching subject discipline, are the ones remembered years later and may be the reason why a student chooses to study a particular discipline at university level in pursuit of a career. In reality, people are enlivened by teachers who have a passionate relationship with their chosen subject discipline, which spills over into the classroom, guiding the relationship bond that becomes established between student and teacher.
Students form impression, either positive or negative in their minds, about the calibre of teacher who instructs them. These impressions usually directly influence the student’s attitude toward the subject discipline and content being taught. Moore (2004:53) notes that student teachers who were asked to reflect upon teachers who made a difference in their lives while at school. The essential idea was not the specific content imparted that made the difference, (as well as some teachers know their discipline area), but rather the teacher’s willingness to touch lives, indeed, “one for whom pupils’ cognitive and affective development is of paramount importance” (Moore 2004:53).
Strengths of the charismatic model of good teaching
Moore (2004:53) draws attention to the impact high performance teachers have upon the aspirations of novice teachers who are at the beginning of their teaching career. Evidently, evidence that such teachers grace the schools of western democratic societies, helps to nurture the ‘honeymoon period’ idealism that many novice teachers experience, who, after three to five years of academic study, are excited with anticipation to the begin their practical teaching career. To meet or witness passionate charismatic teachers teaching belies the myth that teaching is a wearing craft, which induces exhaustion, combats apathy and fends off the charge of irrelevance.
The demand for greater bureaucratic accountability within the teaching profession may pressurise novice and experienced teachers to emphasise the importance of technical prowess and procedural accuracy. The capacity to demonstrate that all learning objectives (whether organic or contrived) have been met may stifle teachers’ instinctive and imaginative engagement with teaching and learning, inadvertently stealing the opportunity for students to have their sense of wonder and curiosity piqued through inspirational teaching.
The criticism that the inspirational teacher is an unhelpful role model to aspiring teachers is limited. Moore (2004:54) makes the astute observation that often charisma “is conferred upon the teacher by the students,” the gratitude stirred in the student by the hidden teaching qualities of the experienced teacher. Furthermore, two qualities which often characterize the charismatic teacher include their function as nurturer and their role as saviour (Moore 2004:56).
The reflective teacher strengths and weakness
The discourse of the reflective practitioner “places as much emphasis upon teachers’ own evaluations of their practice, as on the planning and management schedule” (Moore 2004:100). This discourse encourages the teacher to be honest, committed to long term excellence and regular improvement through direct self-evaluation. The reflective teacher may seek out similar minded teachers from within the school’s well networked connections, so that, as a group, they may actively develop. Good quality reflective teaching involves the practice of productive reflection upon one’s teaching methodology. This approach to teaching can create a depth of rationale for teaching that outshines the reason why the charismatic teacher instructs, or why the competent teacher conforms to centralized teaching methodology.
The evaluation process of the reflective teacher model and practice provides the teacher with an awareness of the ‘large picture’ of education, beyond marks and league tables, so that pupils also gain some confidence, learning to write, read and communicate. The reflective teacher shows awareness of “relevant educational theory and research, including theories of cognitive, affective and linguistic development” (Moore 2004:101). As such, more so than the other two discourses, the reflective teacher is not only potentially a lifetime teacher, but also a life-long learner, discovering more about their life, through their enjoyment of the profession of teaching. Moreover, Zeichner and Liston (1996:48-49) underline that reflective teaching is effective, when the process of reflection “entails the critical examination of experiences, knowledge and values, an understanding of the consequences of one’s teaching, the ability to provide heartfelt justifications for one’s beliefs and a commitment to equality and respect for differences.”
Competence teacher strengths and weaknesses
Another dominant educational discourse is that of the competent teacher model. This is an older model, based, as Moore identifies (2004:76) upon the competent craftsperson, where teaching is regarded as set of discrete skills to be mastered. Traditionally, these skills included such overt behavioural abilities, such as ability to control the behaviour of the students in one’s class, devising interesting lessons; planning valid ways to assess student work and working effectively with colleagues (Moore 2004: 76).
Teaching competencies have been favoured by teaching standards assessors (such as OFSTED) and are commonly referred to as a set of standards teachers must demonstrate, in order to show that they are teaching to a level which is beneficial for the classes they teach (Moore 2004:75-6).The competencies discourse has been praised for its effort to bring accountability to teachers’ practice (Moore 2004:76), so that school executive, the community and the teacher each have some meaningful way of gauging the calibre of the instructional work provided by teachers.
The competent teacher discourse also assumes the teacher has the willingness and knowledge about how to keep up with current best teaching practice, including the purposeful use of technology to enhance teaching and learning.
Conversely, the weaknesses of the competency model has been a narrowing of what constitutes valid and valuable teaching traits and teaching skills, such that the capacity to explain one’s teaching practice in competency educational jargon, which can mistakenly be viewed as the measure of one’s teaching capacity. The competent teacher may be negatively viewed as one who fits well into a managerial model of teaching, yet who lacks the intuitive rapport with pupils or the instinctive ability to work effectively in teams with teaching colleagues to produce best practice collaborative work. A competency based teacher may be overly focused upon the administration trail associated with effective teaching and learning, at the expense of the creative innovation, that can powerfully engage pupils in a meaningful learning process. Furthermore, the competency approach to education has opened the door to promote the national standardisation of curriculum, something many teachers believe is counter-productive.
Since children learn in a variety of ways, it is helpful to utilise a variety of the teaching modes evaluated within this paper to demonstrate the variety blend of teaching practices (Gipps et al 2000: 111). Furthermore, Anderson et al argues that good decision making has emerged within the classroom (Anderson 2003:1-2). Trubowitz, and Robins (2003), illustrate the value of the reflective thinker, by articulating the question of how to respond to an experience of crushing failure. As early as 1901, Barnett drew attention to the ongoing formative influence of teachers upon the students in their charge (Ch1). Addtionally, he wrote with confidence about teachers having a critical role in the development of the formation of children’s character, through the mechanism of teaching and education. This ethical dimension to teaching underpins each of the three discourses discussed by Moore (2004), namely the charismatic, reflective and competence mode of teaching. The literature demonstrates the prismatic nature of learning and thus the prismatic nature of teaching. In this sense, there are multiple modes of teacher discourse which are helpful to aid student learning and form sound pedagogy. Nonetheless, it remains useful to contract each of the three discourses identified by Moore (2004) and explored in this paper.
My favourite teaching model is the charismatic teacher, since, unless the teacher has a passionate engagement with their own subject discipline area, very few students will cultivate a love of learning a specific subject, without some adult guiding hand. Admittedly, other qualities are also needed to be a highly effective teacher of children, such as knowledge of current curriculum, organization and planning. An exuberant and/or interesting personality and love of subject on their own may not be enough – especially in these days of ‘teaching to the test’ and the obsession with assessment, statistics and league tables – and will certainly not be seen as sufficient by any employer, which may indeed be a shame. Yet when the combination exists, of a teacher who not only knows the content of their subject very well, but also engages with teaching and learning in an inspired and passionate manner, it is difficult for most students to avoid the benefits of the lessons such teachers can teach – although whether these teachers’ students would achieve the highest marks in the school, or whether the teachers themselves would be praised for their approach by their managers, assessors and inspectors, is a moot point indeed.
Anderson, L.W. 2003, Classroom assessment: enhancing the quality of teacher decision making
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, London.
Barnett, P.A. 2000, Common sense in education and teaching: an introduction to practice, New York.
Gipps, C.,Gipps, G. and Hargreaves, E. 2000,What makes a good primary school teacher?: expert classroom strategies, Routledge, London.
Mitchell, C., and Weber, C., 1999, Reinventing ourselves as teachers: beyond nostalgia
Moore, A. 2004, The good teacher: dominant discourses in teaching and teacher education, Routledge, London.
Trubowitz, S. and Robins, M.P. 2003, The good teacher mentor: setting the standard for support and success, Teachers College Press, New York.
Zeichner, K and Liston, D.P. 1996, Reflective teaching : an introduction, Erlbaum, London.