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What Makes a Teacher Effective?

What Makes a Teacher Effective?

What do you think it means to be an ‘effective’ teacher?

An effective teacher utilises aspects of their background, professional knowledge and personality to boost students’ academic growth (Whitton, Barker, Nodworthy, Sinclair, Phil, 2004). The favourable characteristics that follow an effective teacher are their high confidence, optimism and knowledge of the content. Effective teachers are confident in their knowledge, skills and their ability to guide students as well as feeling secure about their status as ‘master’ of their subject. As well as having confidence in themselves, teachers must have confidence in their students, and believe that they will learn (Killen, 2013). The teacher should have strong beliefs that even the most complicated concept can be explained in such a way that students find it easy to learn. The teachers deeper understanding of the content should provide a means that makes it easy for them as teachers to alter known concepts to suit the students, making it easier for students to consume (Killen, 2013).

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Teaching is more than just presenting content, our Australian curriculum displays content that students must intake and how their academic level should be judged e.g. Tests and exams. A starting point for an effective teacher is to understand that learning is based on understanding the concept of the content, and the means of an effective teacher is to motivate learners from a state of not understanding to deeper understanding (Killen, 2013). Teachers must be able to create an environment where learners can understand the content presented. Specific techniques that are used to effectively create this environment involve the transformation of the content to something that is easier to understand, motivating learners and engaging them in learning tasks and the teacher’s adaptability to different students and different learning styles (Killen, 2013). Interactions with students gives teachers the chance to know what is happening around the class room so teachers have a chance to manipulate their teaching style to best suit the students (Whitton et al., 2016).

Why do teachers need to purposely plan for learning?

Planning is an important technique teachers use to amplify student achievement as well as teacher satisfaction, the best teachers are able to organise and deliver the best learning experience through thoughtful planning. Overall planning put into class rooms should meet the curriculum requirements and learning needs, to further extend student academic achievement and make the learning experience worthwhile (Whitton et al., 2016). In order for students to meet the learning goals set out by the curriculum, teachers must understand the importance of effective planning. An effective plan helps students to learn purposefully with more efficiency as time is always a constraint in a class room, a developed plan also helps the teacher to clarify what goals are set for students and a step by step process on how to achieve those goals (Killen, 2013). An in-depth plan can boost the teacher’s confidence as it mirrors to the teacher that they understand the content the students want to learn, the increase in confidence will propel the overall teaching effectiveness. Purposely planning for learning is a must if a teacher is to grow in the art of teaching as it develops the teacher’s capability for effective teaching and gives a mean to reflect on their planning and effectiveness (Killen, 2013).

A plan for learning needs to be effective in order to ensure the learning procedure is productive. Teaching can be simplified into a learning cycle: Planning, implementing then evaluating. Planning requires thorough knowledge of the students in the class their age, gender, interests, learning styles, academic talents and social / emotional states all come into effect when identifying the most effective techniques to be highlighted in the plan (Whitton et al., 2016). Knowledge and understanding of the curriculum must also be taken into account when setting up the plan so learning outcomes can be met. With an active and comprehensive plan the implementing of the actual teaching shows more effectiveness, evaluation of the lesson taught will provide feedback to the teacher on if the content and process was suitable for the students (Whitton et al., 2016). The purpose of the lesson taught must be clear so that students know why each lesson is important, simultaneously the lesson should also be used by the teacher as means to guide their planning (Killen, 2013)

How can effective teachers best engage students in learning?

Engaging students in learning is just as important as teaching the students. In order for learners to take in the content being taught they must be focused on the objective and have a clear understanding as to why they’re being taught this. Various strategies are used together by teachers to best engage students to learn. Lesson introductions are one of the major components to involve learners and have them drawn into the learning experience, a lesson introduction should spark the students interests and have them feel connected to the learning environment (Whitton et al., 2016). Just as we discussed in the tutorial in week 3 examples to get the class interested in learning are setting up display materials, objects that students can touch and build understanding through a hands-on experience (e.g. cutting fruit into pieces when examining fractions) or reading a children’s book as audio-visual resource. The introductions should always be related to the topic and spark interests (Whitton et al., 2016). Just as lesson introductions lesson closures should also be given high amounts of attention. The lesson closure must also be relevant and involve the learners to make them aware that the lesson is over. Recapping what occurred, having groups display their work or discuss amongst themselves are good closures that give the teacher an idea if learning outcomes were met during the lesson (Whitton et al., 2016).

There’re are many teaching and learning strategies, all the strategies can be broken down into 4 planning components: content, process, products and environment. The content is what is taught, process is how the content is taught, products are the teachers themselves that guide and help students (Whitton et al., 2016). Discovery learning is a strategy used that challenges student’s understanding and their thinking skills, this strategy of learning focuses on the students, expecting them to develop a solution and a method to the solution (Whitton et al., 2016). Discovery lessons require hands-on research activities to best engage the students. The advantages of discovery learning are that students are involved in the process of learning, the actives used in this type of learning are more meaningful and students acquire their own research and reflective skills (Westwood & Peter, 2008).

Why is developing positive communication skills important for effective teachers?

The idea of enforcing positive communication skills upon teachers to further present in the classroom serve a clear purpose, an effective teacher will use their communication skills to create a rich and positive learning environment. Specific teaching strategies, skills and attitudes impact the learning environment as a whole and in turn these characteristics of the teacher can be manipulated and adjusted and then presented with strong communication skills to the students in order to gage their interests and create a healthy, productive classroom (Whitton et al., 2016). In an educational setting the relationship the teacher has with the students has a significant impact on the communication that occurs between teacher and student (Howell, 2014). If a teacher builds a positive relationship with their students there is a direct influence on the type of communication they will engage in, positive relationships opens a positive environment and negative relationships will generate a negative environment (Howell, 2014).

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An effective teacher will aim to promote a positive learning environment through means of displaying approachability and showing assertiveness in their communication. Assertiveness is categorised as communication style as well as aggressiveness and passivity (Howell, 2014). A good teacher will avoid aggressive and passive styles in communicating as they foster a negative learning environment but should focus on being assertive. The assertive teacher will display the capabilities to be an effective active listener; non-judgemental; able to express himself with honesty; respect others’ values; able to check on others’ feelings, all while being proactive, flexible, trustworthy and confident (Howell, 2014). All these highlighted qualities make the teacher approachable, if a student finds a teacher approachable they’re more likely to confide with the teacher and should they have a problem in the future they will feel encouraged to come to the teacher to share their concerns and feelings (Whitton et al., 2016). By advocating positive relationships and communication, through assertiveness and approachability teachers promote a healthy and positive classroom environment for effective learning (Whitton et al., 2016 & Howell,2014).


Whitton, D., Sinclair, C., Barker K., Nosworthy, M., Humphries, J., & Sinclair, C. (2016)Learning for teaching: Teaching for learning. VIC, Australia: Cengage

Killen, R. (2013). Effective teaching strategies: Lessons from research and practice. South Melbourne, Australia: Cengage Learning Australia. Retrieved from

Westwood, P. (2008). What teachers need to know about. VIC, Australia: ACER Press. Retrieved from;dn=569324157817332;res=IELHSS

Howell, J. (2014). Teaching and learning: Building effective pedagogies. South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford. Retrieved from


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