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A great teacher

By Margaret Evans Gayle
Posted Monday, April 7, 2008

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A Great Teacher is one who has the disposition that can teach every child to reach their potential and believes that every child has interests and talents that can be developed to reach greatness.

Project Bright IDEA, a Javits Research Grant, is the culmination of experiences and research on how to transform the classroom. A major goal of the research looks at teacher disposition and trying to understand the attitudes, beliefs and assumptions that drive teaching today. One of the major findings out of our disposition research is the issue related to the way teachers perceive the abilities of minority children and children of poverty. We have built into our project the very best practices that are supported by evidence in a variety of research studies. We believe that we are making a difference because our teachers, parents and students tell us so and we have evidence in student work and teacher reports. Based on my experience I think every teacher needs the basics in the following items that I have listed below. Some teachers are great scholars but cannot teach so that students understand but I think that all great teachers have to have all of the characteristics listed below and I think that the profession has to change to be a true profession, year round and with evidence-based standards for teaching that become universal.

A Great Teacher for the 21st Century is one who:

Loves Learning – is a Scholar, is Curious and a Thinker, Interested in many things and has an Understanding of the Future World that students will inherit;

Loves Children: Has the Belief that every student has Unusual Abilities and the Potential to learn at a high level, no matter who or what!!

Understands Teaching and Learning for a diverse group of students:

Best Research Practices with a focus on: Designing Curriculum and Assessments for all learning styles and interests of students, engaging learners in rigorous and challenging curriculum, and using curriculum models that help students find solutions to questions that are not easily known.

Has In-Depth Knowledge of a Discipline through a degree program. (Eradicate education degrees at the undergraduate level-have teachers earn a degree in a content area and then qualify to teach through a certification program for levels of child development or areas of special needs.)

Is Supported by School Leaders and Policy Makers who understand the Transformations that need to take place in the Educational System.


American Educational Research Association’s book on Studying Teacher Education Reform and Research, June 2005 (This book also outlines additional research that needs to be done.)

Educating School Leaders, Arthur Levine, March 2005 and part of the Education Schools Project

Learning to Walk the Reform Talk on Teacher Education: College of Education, Michigan State University

Margaret Evans Gayle, ©2007

Margaret Gayle is the director of the American Association for Gifted Children at Duke University.

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A great teacher