Excellence has many aspects

23rd June 2000 at 01:00
Good teachers have a host of different qualities. Here and overleaf Jon Slater reports on the attributes required.

PROBABLY the most ambitious part of the HayMcBer research into teacher effectiveness is the attempt to define precisely the professional characteristics of a good teacher.

While previous reports have attempted to pinpoint the attributes of a good teacher, this is the first time it has been attempted in such detail.

Using in-depth interviews with teachers, observation, panel discussion and questionnaires involving more than a thousand teachers, the researchers identified 16 professional characteristics which, they believe, are key to classroom performance.

These are grouped into five clusters: professionalism; thinking; planning and setting expectations; leading; and relating to others. To be an effective teacher, the report says, you need strengths in each of the five clusters.

"Just as excelling in one subject does not guarantee that a pupil will do well in all subjects, so teachers, as fully rounded professionals, also demonstrate effectiveness in a range of linked characteristics, supporting the attainment of all the pupilsthey teach," the report says.

Not satisfied with defining the characteristics, it also sets out different levels of competence in each and identifies the level teachers need to attain to further their careers.

These levels are set out overleaf and show the characteristics which would be expected of teachers at the main professional grade, of those passing the Government's new performance threshold, and outstanding teacher level (equivalent to advanced skills teacher level).

But that does not mean that there is only one blueprint for a good teacher or that they must reach the required levels in all characteristics.

"Certain different combinations of characteristics within these clusters can be equally effective. This is not a 'one-size-fits-all' picture. Effective teachers show distinctive combinations of characteristics that create success for their pupils," the report says.

It sets out the combinations of skills needed to reach each level.

For instance, teachers wishing to qualify for performance pay should reach the "threshold"level in both thinking characteristics, but only two out of four "leading" skills are required.

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