What makes an “effective” teacher? What makes a person a “good” professional? Are they one in the same or can a person be one without the other? Certainly a debatable subject but the short answer is “no” followed by a “yes.” These two entities are not mutually inclusive. Depending upon who you ask, you will get a varying array of characteristics or qualities of an effective teacher. One only needs to look at the evaluation form to see the desirable attributes that a teacher needs to have in order to be rated effective or highly effective. Knowledge of content, instructional outcomes, assessments . . . we know the routine. Domains two and three speak more directly to the capability of a person to be an effective educator in the classroom. Domains one and four are more geared to professionalism and the traits of a solid professional.
Ignoring the formal evaluation speak and getting down to the nuts and bolts, the ONE biggest quality that is not really measurable and that is not in the form of a checked box is passion. If a teacher is not passionate about their subject matter or energetic about what they are teaching, how in the world can it be expected that our students are enthusiastic learning about chemical moles or reading The Catcher in the Rye? Engagement, fervor and a dedication to what you are teaching is a must. If a teacher is indifferent or is a Charlie Brown teacher (wa wa waa waaa), maybe it is time to move on. Ask the students. They will be honest, probably brutually honest if a teacher is excited about his/her teaching. Having a positive rapport with the students is probably a close number two in being effective in the classroom. A positive rapport can go a long way in getting students to perform in the classroom. That doesn’t necessarily mean being the “cool teacher” or the “nice teacher.” Fair, consistent, courteous and caring can get even the hard core students to work for you.
Regardless of a teachers strengths or weaknesses in the classroom, we all impact students. Hopefully this occurs in a more positive manner than negative. We affect each other as professionals as well. No matter the job title, if a person works in the building at OMHS, we help and hinder each other on a daily basis with our varying degrees of professionalism. In its most basic form, professionalism does not take a high level or degree of skill. Be on time . . . easy. Get required paperwork done . . . easy. Show up, set a good example, don’t use social media as a ventboard about school or students, cover your duties and just use good common sense. The list could go on and on. There is always the trickle up or trickle down effect. A teacher doesn’t get something completed on time, it affects the department chair and then the assistant principal. Attendance not in on time? Connect Ed call can’t go out. Getting out of coverage, another teacher has to pick up your duty at the last minute. Chairs not put up on the desks? Someone else has to do take their time to do that. Paying someone to do your duty? REALLY??? Paying someone to grade your papers? REALLY? REALLY?? Do all of the little things and the big things take care of themselves. The shame of it all is that it takes no skill to try/work hard. No skill to give 100%. Just do it! There is only one best teacher, be we all can be damn good professionals at no cost at all. No professional development, no courses to take. Be professional. Always a day late and a dollar short? Set the alarm earlier and save your pennies. That is the maddening part of it all. It takes no skill to try hard!!!
To refer back to the initial question can a person be a good teacher and not a good professional or vice versa, I whole heartedly say Yes!! This can turn into a debate of the chicken or the egg, but if I am getting to choose, I would pick the good professional over the good teacher any day of the week. I want a solid teacher no doubt, but I want an outstanding professional.
Step up to the plate and support your coworkers, your department chairs, your APs, your clerical, custodial and cafeteria staff by fulfilling your professional responsibilities and I would bet, everything and everyone would be less stressed, more willing to lend a helping hand and in a more positive state of mind. Just food for thought.