In this week’s Teachers College Record, there’s also a very good piece, “What It Takes to Become a Great Teacher.” The author writes:
If we really want good schools, we need to fill them with great teachers. But first, we have to dispense with the tired debate about whether someone is born a good teacher, or whether good teaching is something anyone can learn. That’s like debating whether a surgeon is born a good doctor, or must be taught. Only some people will make good surgeons – they need to be smart enough to get through medical school, have excellent hand eye coordination, and possess the ability to make important decisions under pressure. But no one is a good surgeon without medical training and close supervision from a skilled mentor. The same is true of teachers. Not everyone is cut out to be a teacher – you need to love kids, be smart, have passion and expertise in the discipline you teach, and possess a certain kind of presence and authority that is very hard to learn. But even someone with all these qualities needs training: about how children develop, about how to take a lively idea and weave it into good curriculum, how to make tedious work seem worthwhile to children, how to give students feedback, how to handle difficult children, how to assess what a student has learned, how to talk to parents, and how to keep teaching well when buried by bureaucracy.