(By Katie Lepi)

What makes an effective teacher?  It’s difficult to tell, but when you’ve had one, you know. Some states are trying very hard to measure “good” teaching, but how can we do this? It’s been argued that it’s hard to pinpoint just what good teaching is. Margaret Danielson is an expert on this subject and the creator of a popular rubric which explores excellence in the classroom.

It accounts for engagement, student involvement, level of academics, and all aspects of classroom teaching by dividing up good instruction into domains. These domains really help in reflecting about planning engaging classes, and thinking about areas of opportunity to improve one’s own teaching. Danielson spoke on a panel recently moderated by Chelsea Clinton. She advised that she did not intend for her rubric to be used in high-stakes teacher evaluations, which is currently being done.

She stated that it’s hard to tell which teacher is the source of excellence. Is it you, or the reading teacher down the hall? It’s hard to be sure. However, when used in the proper setting or as a reflective tool, the Danielson rubric does help delineate the domains that encompass great instruction. Great teaching is often more than that forty minutes in the class–it’s a certain mindset, a certain set of habits, and a certain willingness to go above and beyond to reach every student.

A truly great teacher knows that every student is gifted. The greatest teacher mentors students, hoping that one day, the student will, in fact, surpass the teacher–and then celebrates when they do.

Habits of Highly Effective Teachers

“The best teachers change their mind because things themselves change,” says Terry Heick on an article he includes on this Learnist board. Highly effective teachers remain flexible. This board isn’t only about effective teachers–it’s about effective technology, and effective educational leaders as well.

What Makes a Great Teacher

This is a collaborative board–a bunch of people got together and shared their ideas of what makes a great teacher. Collaborating is fun, but it also gets the best information to the forefront.

How Do Teachers Inspire Curiosity in Their Students

This is a Discovery Channel Curiosity feature. Learnist and the Discovery Channel partner to bring you some excellent content, and the Curiosity series is one of my favorite. Curiosity series answers a lot of the questions you have always pondered, but never quite thought through like Discovery has.

Qualities of Good Teachers

This board puts together common attributes of good teachers across disciplines. Some articles include discussion of good English teachers, good professors, and good ESL teachers.

Responsive Classroom

Responsive classrooms use social and emotional learning–teaching things like kindness, respect, and citizenship. This board investigates the importance of a responsive classroom asking whether it’s possible to accomplish this with all the outside requirements of teaching. Great teachers say that it is.

Strong Parent-Teacher Communication

Having strong parent-teacher communication skills is one thing that sets apart a good teacher from one that is truly great. Forging those relationships early in the year goes a long way in building the home-school partnership that often makes students very successful.

Academic Rigor

We are in a new age of education. Academic rigor is something that can help students for a lifetime. In addition to making lessons challenging, teachers who can make academic rigor fun are the ones we remember for a lifetime. A great many students come through our doors without academic confidence. Rigorous lessons make student believe in themselves, realize their talents in certain areas, learn to overcome challenges in areas that might be difficult for them, and prepare them for real life.

Taking Learning Outside the Classroom

Great teachers take learning outside the classroom. Sometimes we just can’t do that. Though the Scientific American learning on this board mentions the importance of trips and experiences for students, this board assembles virtual field trips for those of us who can’t get our classes out in the field. The good news is that the 21st century classroom has access to the virtual world at its fingertips.

Training Great Teachers

Training great teachers is important, but a challenge. Many teacher training programs have long-standing reputations for being the easy major, but sometimes the good programs are surrounded with a lack of jobs, meaning the programs can’t follow teachers locally and mentor them. Mentoring and induction is important throughout the process of teacher training. We can’t just leave teachers alone in their first few years on the job. Since teachers are the career with the highest burnout in the nation, it’s important to train new teachers who can cope with the stresses of the job, then support them and make them realize that these stresses are par for the course, and can be overcome with communication and collaboration.

10 Teachers Who Deserve Their Own Hollywood Movie

Teacher movies make us jump out of our seats. Not everyone who deserves a movie gets one, however. Some of these people are well-known, and some should be. If ever people deserved “Stand and Deliver,” or “Dead Poet’s Society” movies of their own, it’s the people on this list.

Credit: Edudemic