To the Editor:
Jeffrey Newport’s recent Commentary, “In Praise of Teachers” (Oct. 5, 2011), salutes the unsung heroes in education: great teachers.
Coincidentally, the very same week that Mr. Newport’s article appeared in Education Week, I asked my graduate students to write a paper entitled: “Who Was Your Most Effective Teacher and Why?”
Each time I assign this paper, students identify the following traits of their most effective teachers: teaching for understanding, connecting new learning to students’ daily lives, tapping students’ critical-thinking skills by asking provocative questions, encouraging students with meaningful comments on their written work, maintaining high expectations, keeping classroom momentum, building relationships, caring, inspiring, showing passion for their subject. The most frequently mentioned attributes of great teachers, according to my students, are building relationships and caring.
Mr. Newport’s essay shows us that great teachers care so much that they spend more time at school, and when they are at school, they are constantly engaged with their students. Mr. Newport reminds us that great teachers communicate often with parents, collect information about their students and use it to improve teaching and learning, seek ongoing professional development, and strive to meet the needs of diverse learners. Great teachers do all of this and more. They impact the lives of their students so that one day their students will remember how important they were to their growth and development.
Secondary Education and Professional Programs
Bridgewater State University
A version of this article appeared in the November 02, 2011 edition of Education Week as Calling Attention to Unsung Teacher Heroes