The quality of the nondual teacher can impact the quality of the education. The question is: how does a teacher ensure he or she achieves quality in their classroom? This quality can be achieved through effective teacher training. When quality is addressed at this level – before bad habits can set in – a teacher has a much better chance of performing at his or her best.
There is a vast amount of information and research to support the theory that teachers are the most important factors in the effectiveness of schools and the quality of a child’s education. In order to achieve the level of quality and effectiveness as a teacher, one must first understand how to acquire and practice these characteristics.
The Quality Teacher
For years, the policy makers focused on education working to create new programs and standards that were then handed over to the teachers to execute. This reform has now shifted to teacher training to ensure quality starts at the heart of the classroom. While this is a noteworthy step, it still involves the creation of new formulas that are then simply given to teachers for implementation. This process fails to create quality teachers; it simply just creates more pressure.
While teachers have a number of different methods by which they teach their students, equally outstanding teachers do not have identical methods. Research has found that these teachers do share certain characteristics such as a belief that all children can learn, even in different ways; a belief that teachers can be learners and children teachers; a high level of respect for all students; high expectations for all students that vary according to the student; and a humanistic approach to classroom control.
It is true that such characteristics can be taught and even modeled in teacher training, but unless teachers share the beliefs of outstanding teachers, they are unlikely to effectively adopt these behaviors and thereby create the quality classroom. Reformers can continue to develop programs and raise expectations for teachers, but they cannot create quality where none exists.
Telling teachers what they should be doing without providing the tools to help them do it will in effect create no change at all. Instead, professional development programs should encourage teachers in what they are already doing, highlighting why they are doing it. These programs need to ask about their beliefs and what they use to support these beliefs; how these beliefs influence their perceptions, decisions and expectations; what values they are unconsciously teaching; and what kind of metaphors do they use to describe their classrooms.
When such methods are implemented in teacher training, the mediator can identify areas where a teacher may need guidance. Teachers may use their beliefs to their detriment in teaching without even realizing it. Proper guidance in training can help them re-direct their thinking and how it relates to quality teaching.
Teacher thinking – especially about beliefs – plays an important role in the overall quality of education delivered by that teacher. One cannot simply tell the teacher how to think in teacher training; nor can the teacher be given a standard without the tools to achieve that goal. To reach the highest quality in teaching, programs must impact the way a teacher thinks to the benefit of the students. Without this method, all others will be wasted.