Highly effective teachers are intellectuals. This is so because of their command of content and pedagogy. Deep and wide ranging content knowledge is required for effective teaching. The content knowledge required for effective teaching goes far beyond expertise in a particular subject—this is a given. Deep content knowledge of human development is required for effective teaching. In addition, refined knowledge about content related to the subject to be taught—interdisciplinary connections—is required for effective teaching.
Beyond a wide range of content knowledge, highly effective teachers must possess an ever-expanding pedagogical repertoire. Such a repertoire includes skill at leading and managing small and large groups of students, facilitating discussion, stimulating students to produce artifacts of what they know and can do, evaluating student work according to a refined understanding of rigorous standards, integrating tools and resources into instruction such that the teaching and learning is personalized for each student, and collaborating with other stakeholders—teachers, parents, administrators—to ensure that every student has access to all of the opportunities necessary to fulfill their potential.
Exemplary teachers model citizenship and advance the field by contributing their best practices for use by other teachers. The presence of art and science in their pedagogy distinguishes highly effective teachers. Teaching ranks among the most difficult work to do. Yet, compensation plans for states and school districts are woefully outdated—there has been very little reform since the first system was borrowed from compensation systems for piece workers in manufacturing plants was introduced in the 1920’s. And, although Albert Shanker’s leadership of unionization for teachers has been justified, the recent assault on teachers and public education has been deafening.
If you can read this blog, thank a teacher and resolve to treat them as the intellectuals they are. There are lessons to be learned on how to do this from countries that out perform the United States on international indices.