The proved to produce more academically successful students. Therefore,

The quality of education in schools is greatly dependent on the quality of the teachers.  It has been found to be the most important school-related factor in determining a student’s success.  As stated by the Rand Education Corporation, “…research suggests that, among school-related factors, teachers matter most.”  Because of this, it has been the center of focus for education reform.  Scholars, analysts, and education advocates alike realize that to improve the education quality in America, improving teaching quality is the place to start.  Skilled and effective teachers have been proved to produce more academically successful students.  Therefore, quality teachers are the key to quality education and improving academic success.Experts have defined quality teachers as having five important features.  The first feature is knowing their subjects.  Teachers who do not know their subject material well are less effective on their students’ learning, even if they have been trained on how to teach.  In this way, both pedagogical training, or training to learn how to teach, and content training are important in developing the skills to be a good teacher.  Together, a teacher who knows their content well and can convey that information well to their students is more effective.  According to the Center for Public Education, “…students of teachers who have greater academic ability–be it measured through SAT or ACT scores, GPA, IQ, tests of verbal ability, or selectivity of the college attended–perform better.” The second quality of a good teacher is having good basic writing, math, and verbal presentation skills.  In an analysis done in 1996, it showed the how teacher’s verbal ability affected the achievement of students in a positive way.  The third feature of a good teacher is expectancy for their students to achieve.  In a study by Harvard professor Robert Rosenthal, described by NPR, “Rosenthal discovered that the teachers’ expectations of these kids really did affect the students.”  This was because as their expectations changed, so did their way they taught individual children.  So, a better quality teacher expects all of their students to succeed to get the best learning results from them.  The fourth quality of a good teacher is their enthusiasm to teach.  This ties into the fifth quality of a good teacher: the ability to motivate all students to learn.  Studies have proven that humans pick up on the emotions of others, even if they don’t explicitly state that they feel that way.  In a study done by Elaine Harfield, professor at the University of Hawaii and member of the Association for Psychological Science, she explores the connection between the emotion of a subject and the emotion of the person observing the subject.  Participants were asked to rate what they thought the subject was feeling based off of their observations and then rate how they felt afterward.  She found that while the perception of the subject’s emotions were impacted by their verbal cues, the emotions of the observer were more in line with the emotion expressed by the subject’s body language.  She explains her findings by saying that “…when participants rated their own emotion, they were much more similar to the emotion expressed by the target’s nonverbal cues. It appeared that the participants’ mood was affected by the target — but they responded to his displayed emotion, not his stated one.”  Because of this, it is clear how a teacher who is more enthusiastic with her class by both verbal and nonverbal actions is more successful in motivating his or her students, thus making their achieve more academically.  These are the five general qualities that describe higher quality teachers. Studies show that what teachers know and do directly impacts what their students learn.  As proven in Rosenthal’s study, teachers that are trained on beliefs and expectations to have in the classroom that benefit the learning process are better teachers because they use those skills.  So although the qualifications a teacher has in their subject improve their teaching quality, learning how to teach is just as helpful in creating a high quality educator.  For teachers to keep up with the best teaching standards, training is an ongoing process.  As stated in a report by Rogers M. Smith of the University of Pennsylvania, “These needs cannot be met through forms of professional development that features brief workshops for passive audiences of large numbers of teachers.”  Currently, most professional development programs are only subpar.  According to Smith, the best professional development programs have key characteristics that make them ideal for training.  The first characteristic of the higher level programs is that they are focused on content, and specific ways to teach that content.  This allows for teachers to see what methods work best for certain subjects, thus maximizing their efficiency as a teacher.  Another quality that was observed of these programs was the amount of feedback and practice given.  Teachers who have more experience, typically more than 5 years, are more efficient in the classroom.  Development programs that give criticism and create a true teaching experience build the foundation to start off as a good teacher and become an even better one with more experience.  To ensure that teachers in training are the best that they can be, the best programs for teacher development are longer in duration.  This ensures that they are completely informed on the practices and content that they use so they can translate it into a classroom successfully.  The more hands on teaching experience the teachers get means a better program.  The best programs are also connected with their state’s curriculum and standards.  If teachers are not prepared to teach up-to-date curriculum, then they won’t be as successful in the classroom, which translates to less academic success in the students.  Finally, the best professional development programs had adequate evaluation methods to determine if a person was fit to teach and get the best academic results.  Overall, the better training a teacher gets, the more success he/she sees in their students. It is known that better quality teachers produce more successful students.  However, according to the Center for Public Education, “…poor and minority students are the least likely to have qualified teachers…”  This is what many analysts and researchers believe is the cause for the academic achievement gap in America.  The obvious solution would be to evenly spread the best teaches throughout a school district to produce an equal amount of achievement.  However data shows that the best teachers needed a substantial incentive to keep them at a low performing school.  In order to bridge the education gap, emphasis must be put not only on improving teaching quality itself but also improving the conditions in which teachers are working in.  Most low performing schools do not have the teacher support needed to keep a high quality teacher there, thus making spreading the best quality teachers around the district ineffective.  Therefore, schools have to consider improving working conditions for teachers if they want any chance of fixing the academic gap in the USA. The academic success of students starts with the success of their teachers.  Their success and ability to convey and teach quality information on a subject impacts what a student is able to learn.  A teacher’s success is dependent on their training and background experience.  The qualities of the best training programs allow for the best preparation of teachers.  The better we can prepare teachers before they walk into a classroom, the more likely it is that students are able to succeed in school and less likely is the academic gap will grow.


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