Welcome to a collection of thoughts, questions and interesting links relating to giftedness ..............
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Monday, February 6, 2012

Effective teachers

I have just finished watching 4 Corners on the ABC. Unfortunately I missed the beginning of the program but it was interesting to see schools with such different circumstances focussing on the importance of one key thing - teacher effectiveness.

Of particular interest was the comment about the impact an effective teacher can make on achievement that indicated that the difference between the most effective teacher and the least effective teacher can be as much as a whole year of achievement for students.

In an earlier post I mentioned James Stronge who presented some research at a gifted conference in Singapore in 2008 looking at teacher quaity and effectiveness. He reported that the positive influence of an effective teacher can still be seen 3 - 5years down the track. Similarly the negative effects of an ineffective teacher are also still evident after 3 - 5 years.

What makes an effective teacher for gifted students may well be different to what is effective for students of average ability.  There have been a number of studies, both in Australia and overseas about what characterises an effective teacher for gifted students. Some studies have shown that gifted students value the personal and social characteristics of a teacher over the teacher's cognitive and classroom management abilities, other studies have produced lists of characteristics of effective teachers for the gifted. It is interesting to note however that many of these lists include a recognition of the importance of intellectual development, or having insight into the cognitive, social and emotional needs of gifted students. **

Given the scarcity of teachers with training in giftedness, the likelihood of a child coming across an effective teacher who has insight into characteristics of gifted children, a genuine interest in or liking of gifted students, or one who values intellectual development to the degree needed by a gifted child is perhaps rarer that we would hope.

And that is why it is critical for parents to be involved in their child's education. Establishing a positive relationship with your child's teacher will help you discover the degree that they may have the characterisitics outlined above. And it will also give you the chance to perhaps guide the teacher to new understandings. It is never too early to start building the relationship, the outcome of the year might depend upon it.

** You can read more about some of the studies looking at the characteristics of effective teachers for the gifted here.

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