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Ashley Prindle

September 28th, 2015

Professor McIlwain
History and Issues in American Education

The Effective Teacher

One teacher immediately came to mind when I thought about an educator who

demonstrated effective teaching. Mr. OKeefe was my honors chemistry teacher in high school. I

never seemed to be able to easily grasp chemistry and it took many after schoolwork sessions

with Mr. OKeefe, extra practice, and lots of studying for me to excel in the course, but through

my struggles, Mr. OKeefe was always there to support me. Mr. OKeefe would always take the

time to answer all my questions, but would also get me thinking by asking probing questions

that made me think. He would make sure to explicitly model what he expected of me so I would

always know his expectations for success. For example, I can remember during one of our after

school sessions he said that he knew that a particular paper was not my best work and he then

demonstrated how to turn my paper into what he expected.

Additionally, Mr. OKeefe was a great motivator and would always push me to think

critically and analytically. He empowered me to work hard and to always seek out the truth for

myself. Mr. OKeefe took the time to listen to my concerns, what I was having difficulty with,

what went well, and listened to my problems that existed outside of his chemistry class that

seemed to be so pressing. Mr. OKeefe was also extremely knowledgeable on all of the subjects

that he taught. Since he had come into the academic field after having owned a medical business,

he was able to always show me how what we were learning mattered and was applicable in the

real world. Even though he was clearly more knowledgeable on the subject then me he always

made me feel like an equal and as though I was his partner in the learning process. He would

always tell me that he had just as much to learn from me, as I had to learn from him. Mr.

OKeefe created a safe learning environment where mistakes could be made. But most

importantly, Mr. OKeefe and I had a close, positive, and supportive relationship that allowed

me to attain high levels of achievement both in and outside of the classroom.

Part II

Supportive: Supportive environments fulfill psychological needs and personal interests.

Students in classrooms taught by supportive teachers experience many meaningful educational

outcomes such as greater competence, higher mastery motivation, enhanced creativity, well-

being, greater engagement, better academic performance, and academic persistence rather than

dropping out of school (Reeve, J., 2006).

Asking Probing Questions- Effective questioning is one of the most powerful strategies

teachers can use to promote critical thinking. Good questions are those that guide thinking and

encourage students to interpret, analyze, synthesize, critique, and reflect. Thus, it is important

that teachers develop skills to raise and respond to good questions since they are likely to nourish

students intellect (Thompson, C., 2011).

Motivation: Students are motivated by their teachers to learn and be successful in school.

Additionally, students engage in learning through behavior and motivation, and those learners

who are highly motivated remain engaged, enthusiastic, and are more likely to participate in

learning and academic activities. Teachers are a major influencing agent for student motivation

and encourage students in their pursuit for excellence in learning, provide positive feedback,

remain enthusiastic about educational growth, and cultivate a positive classroom environment

(Rugett, J. & Chemosit, C., 2009).

Listen: Students want to be heard and they want to express their opinions. When teachers

validate their thoughts, students become more proactive about their learning. Students who feel

listened too also feel as though they are members of a learning community, that they matter, and

that they have something valuable to offer (Sather, A., 2009).

Safe Learning Environment: Many students can often have contempt for school, thus it is

important for students to feel that they can learn in a safe classroom environment where both the

educator and students are emotionally honest with themselves and one another. By providing an

environment where trust is established, desired behavior is modeled by the teacher, humor is

used as a motivator, and being honest with students about your own shortfalls as an educator,

will create an environment where students feel safe to make mistakes and learn (Hanna, J.,


Relationship: The teacher-student relationship is one of the most powerful elements

within the learning environment. A major factor affecting students development, school

engagement and academic motivation, is tied to how strong the teacherstudent relationship is.

Moreover, supportive and positive relationships between teachers and students ultimately

promote a sense of school belonging and encourage students to participate cooperatively in

classroom activities (Huges, J.N. & Chen, O., 2011).


Hanna, J. (2014). Connecting with Sullen Students: Using an Emotionally Honest Classroom to
Reach Out to Disengaged Students. Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues, and Ideas,
87 (5), 224-228.

Huges, J.N. & Chen, O. (2011). Reciprocal effects of student-teacher and student peer
relatedness: Effects on academic self-efficacy. Journal of Applied Developmental
Psychology, 32 (5), 278-287.

Reeve, J. (2006). Teaching as Facilitators: What Autonomy-Supportive Teachers Do and Why

Their Students Benefit. The Elementary School Journal 106 (3), 225-236.

Rugett, J. & Chemosit, C. (2009). What motivates Students to Learn? Contribution of Student
To-Student Relations, Student faculty Interaction and Critical Thinking Skills. Education
Research Quarterly 32 (3), 16-28.

Sather, A. (2009). I am Not Afraid to Listen: Prospective Teachers Learning From Students.
Theory Into Practice 48 (3), 176-183.

Thompson, C. (2011). Critical Thinking across the Curriculum: Process over Output.
International Journal of Humanities and Social Science 1 (9), 1-7.