What Does It All Mean?
Think for a moment about your favorite teacher. Picture the teacher's appearance. Make a mental list of what made that teacher so special that years after leaving elementary school, middle school, high school, or college, you can still remember the teacher's name. Now, compare your mental list to what you have read in this book. How many effective teacher characteristics can you identify in your memory of your favorite teacher?
We are inherently drawn to teachers who are effective for us, whether we struggled with a particular concept and the teacher helped us to gain understanding, or whether we excelled in a particular area and the teacher challenged us to stretch our abilities. Those qualities still resonate with us years after leaving that effective teacher's classroom. In research and in real life, we cherish many portraits of effective teachers. We have been students of teachers, parents of students of teachers, and teachers, ourselves. As I hope is evident from this book and the research upon which it is based, as educators we have long searched for an answer to a fundamental question: What makes an effective teacher effective? Clearly, answers to this question are far from simple. Moreover, the answers are complex because the question is complex.
Effective teaching is the result of a combination of many factors, including aspects of the teacher's background and ways of interacting with others, as well as specific teaching practices. To discover what makes an effective teacher, we must understand what is meant by the word effective, realizing that the definition of this term has multiple layers and implications within the teaching profession. As Arthur Wise, president of the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) noted, the fundamental purpose of teacher preparation programs is “preparing teachers who will be able to help