"Teachers affect eternity; no one can tell where their influence stops." Henry Brooks Adams (American historian)
In its simplest form, student achievement is affected by three key elements — the student, the school and the home. By far the most significant influencing factor in schools is the quality of the teacher. If you’re not convinced about the powerful impact of good teachers on students, read on.
What the research tells us
Australian research by John Hattie suggests that teacher quality accounts for 30 percent of the variance in student performance. Research on literacy and numeracy test scores, from Australian National University’s Andrew Leigh, supports this. The research revealed that the most effective ten percent of teachers can achieve in half a year what a teacher from the bottom ten percent can achieve in a full year.
What effective teachers do
A gifted child from a supportive home environment can only go so far. However, with the proper teacher support they can get the most out of their education. Effective teachers provide:
- stimulating environments
- scaffolding that is appropriate to student needs
- support for weaker students
- structure and stability
- consistency and correction
- feedback and goal setting
- encouragement and emotional support
- learning tools and resources
- advice for parents
- knowledge and skills
- guidance toward ‘the next step’
- diagnosis of weaknesses
- opportunities for novel experiences
- ‘hands on’ learning
- guided questioning
- conditions for curiosity
- a model of lifelong learning
- teamwork opportunities and support
- passion for learning
- high expectations
- programs that deliver learning in a meaningful and intentional way.
What parents can do
A teacher’s impact is limited by student and home factors. These can be mitigated with the help of parents. As a parent you can support teachers by doing the following:
- your child’s teacher
- the school and its processes
- your child’s ability to learn
- learning in all its forms, both formal and informal
- education and its benefits
- your child’s progress, no matter how gradual
- the different strengths individual teachers bring to your child’s growth
- a lifelong learning attitude
- good reading habits
- a belief in your child’s teacher
- passion for learning
- advocate for your child if:
- things aren’t working at school or at home
- they have a learning difficulty
- a suitable learning space at home
- an atmosphere of learning
- learning resources
- opportunities for learning
- realise that:
- your child’s learning journey is different from everyone else’s
- learning isn’t always a smooth and linear journey
- learning isn’t about job prospects
- teachers are highly qualified professionals
- teaching is both a science and an art.
The old Chinese proverb, “teachers open the door but you enter by yourself”, certainly rings true. However, the impact of an outstanding teacher determines exactly where that door leads to.
Learn more about the impact of good teachers on student achievement at The Scots College by downloading a copy of Excellence at Scots 2016.
Stuart is the Year 3 Coordinator at Scots and has wide-ranging experience in primary education in both public and private, boys and co-ed settings. His passion for boys’ education has led him to examine the role of male teachers in his paper, ‘Why Do Men Teach?’ He has also written on engaging boys as global citizens in, ‘The Power of the Stories We Tell’. With his qualifications in workplace coaching, he has taken on several pre-service teachers and worked with the teachers of the Taboubil community in Papua New Guinea. Stuart is driven to establish best practice for boys education and currently engages with a number of projects throughout the college to enhance the outcomes for our boys.