Remember that one teacher in your school who helped you learn that seemingly impossible concept with such a great ease? Yes, that one teacher who did not only impact your ideology and character, but also changed the way you looked at the subject and the way you scored?
Yes, they are the experts. An expert teacher is way too different from an experienced teacher. Teaching is a dynamic process. A teacher caters all his students in the way they can understand the concept. Having spent more number of years in the school may not help in ensuring high quality teaching, but having the sensitivity to address teaching as a dynamic process from the cognitive point of view.
In a research study by Hattie (2003), he emphasized on how teachers have an overall impact and influence on student achievements. The graph below indicates Hattie’s findings.
When teachers have such a strong influence on the overall student achievement, the focus should rather be on selecting expert teachers rather than experienced teachers to ensure and influence learning levels. And such teachers can make difference. Excellence in teaching is the single most powerful influence on achievement. The paper explains 5 major dimensions which are further divided into 16 attributes to identify an expert teacher from an experienced teacher. According to Hattie, these do not make a checklist, but they indicate an ideal profile.
1. Can identify essential representations of their subject(s)
1.1. Expert teachers have deeper representations about teaching and learning.
1.2. Expert teachers adopt a problem-solving stance to their work.
1.3. Expert teachers can anticipate, plan, and improvise as required by the situation.
1.4. Expert teachers are better decision-makers and can identify what decisions are important and which are less important decisions.
2. Guiding Learning through Classroom Interactions
2.1. Expert teachers are proficient at creating an optimal classroom climate for learning.
2.2. Expert teachers have a multidimensionally complex perception of classroom situations.
2.3. Expert teachers are more context-dependent and have high situation cognition.
3. Monitoring Learning and Provide Feedback
3.1. Expert teachers are more adept at monitoring student problems and assessing their level of understanding and progress, and they provide much more relevant, useful feedback.
3.2. Expert teachers are more adept at developing and testing hypotheses about learning difficulties or instructional strategies.
3.3. Expert teachers are more automatic.
4. Attending to Affective Attributes
4.1. Expert teachers have high respect for students.
4.2. Expert teachers are passionate about teaching and learning.
5. Influencing Student Outcomes
5.1 Expert teachers engage students in learning and develop in their students’ self-regulation, involvement in mastery learning, enhanced self-efficacy, and self-esteem as learners.
5.2. Expert teachers provide appropriate challenging tasks and goals for students.
5.3. Expert teachers have positive influences on students’ achievement.
5.4. Expert teachers enhance surface and deep learning.
The 16 characteristics do not include content knowledge as the content knowledge is necessary for both experienced and expert teachers, and is thus not a key distinguishing feature. This is not with a view to undermine the importance of content knowledge, but it is more pedagogical content knowledge that is important: that is, the way knowledge is used in teaching situations.
Expert teachers do differ from experienced teachers – particularly in the way they represent their classrooms, the degree of challenges that they present to students, and most critically, in the depth of processing that their students attain. Students who are taught by expert teachers exhibit an understanding of the concepts targeted in instruction that is more integrated, more coherent, and at a higher level of abstraction than the understanding achieved by other students.
Let’s collectively focus on identifying, esteeming and encouraging excellent teachers, wherever they may be.
By Gayatri Vaidya – Educational Specialist
(Memeber of Large Scale Assessment)
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