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Brian Field

Adam Schmitt
TE 807
6th May 2015

Part II: Revised Stance on Quality Teaching

In order to determine the effectiveness of a teacher, a clear definition of what encapsulates quality
teaching needs to be established first. Educational academia, policy makers, and teachers themselves
have provided their input in what they feel is an adequate definition; however, these definitions have
failed to translate into effective teacher development programs or the improvement of teaching in general.
The reason for these inadequate definitions of what makes quality teaching is often due to a lack of
acceptance from all parties including practitioners and researchers. Even if these definitions were
accepted by all parties, they are often unable to be applied across a wide range of teaching environments
and personalities and also lack measurable characteristics that determine if quality teaching has been
achieved. I will argue that quality teaching can only be determined by measurable outcomes which
evaluate if student learning and depth of understanding has been achieved. There is too much variation in
practice and environments to incorporate teaching behaviors and practices into a workable definition of
quality teaching. While teaching quality can only be determined by measurable outcomes, the process of
reflecting and reaching on these outcomes is what makes a quality teacher.
Fenstermacher and Richardson (2005) differentiating between good teaching and successful teaching has
been particularly influential in my continued thought in determining what decides quality teaching.
According to Fenstermacher and Richardson (2005) work, good teaching pays particular attention to the
characteristics associated with quality teaching. They counter the point that expertise and an element of
good teaching results in student learning. (Fenstermacher and Richardson, 2005, 202-203). They
continue and provide an alternative explanation of successful teaching which is the depth of
understanding gained by the student. (Fenstermacher and Richardson, 2005, 205). This is a component
that they recognize that is often neglected in the good teaching mentality.
Good Teaching presents particular problems when creating a workable definition due to its variance in
interpretation. Based upon the teaching environment, the definition of good teaching keeps changing.
Due to the changing definition what outlines good teaching becomes unworkable because no set standard
is established in determining what makes quality teaching. That is why successful teaching presents a
much better approach. It allows for quality teaching to be determined by outcomes, which can be clearly
measured. The workable definition of quality teaching should be tied to the primary goal of teaching,
which is to ensuring students are learning.
Focusing quality teaching upon outcomes often results in resistance from practitioners due to policy
initiatives connecting teacher pay to performance. While I believe that quality teaching should be
outcome driven, I do not believe that these outcomes should be connected to teacher pay. Quality
teachers are often revising their practices in order to reach higher student learning and outcomes. If

teachers are to advance their teaching practices, then they must be allowed at times to fail. Innovation
often is the product of failure. It is ignorant to think that a teacher will be providing quality teaching over
the course of 30 year career. A quality teacher will reflect upon these outcomes and over the course of a
teaching career will demonstrate improvement.
Using measurable outcomes in evaluating quality teaching determines if quality teaching is
achieved, however, the process to get to that point is just as important. It is the reflection on these
outcomes that makes a quality teacher. This can only be achieved if teachers are provided the means to
reflect and collaborate. If teachers are not provided this time to reflect on outcomes, the quality teaching
is difficult to achieve. Sara Mosle (2014) discusses the lack of advancement in American Education
compared to other countries because of the lack of time teachers have to collaborate and specifically
acknowledges the effects that this has on advancing their pedagogical approaches. If quality teaching
cannot be specifically defined and a framework cannot be established for new teachers, reflection and
collaboration become an integral role in achieving quality teaching.
Since there is too much variance in practices and environments that actually result in student learning and
positive outcomes, the culture of teaching must be altered. I would like to counter the benefits of the
High Leverage Teaching Practices by TeachingWorks. (2015) Quality teaching cannot be defined by
these practices because again they are too often left up for interpretation. For example, High Leverage
Practice #2 Leading a whole class discussion (TeachingWorks, 2015) is too vague and left up to too
much interpretation. It becomes difficult to determine when one teacher effectively leads a class
discussion and another does not. Defining quality teaching into a set of best practices often limits
creativity to innovate ones practices and limits the discussion to alternative methods. While a teacher
will eventually expand beyond these frameworks, creativity and innovation can happen at a quicker pace
if the teacher is not mentally bound by these frameworks.
The reality is that the quest to actually define quality teaching beyond measurable outcomes does not
provide any real means of determining of what quality teaching is. Variance in practices, teaching
personalities, and environments often result in varying degree of success in implementation of quality
teaching. If we are to advance teacher practices through understanding what makes quality teaching, then
we must begin to alter teaching culture. Henry Giroux (insert date) expands on this idea that teachers
must be seen as intellectuals rather than technocrats. The result of teachers being seen as
technocrats is a lack of autonomy. (Giroux) He discusses that viewing teachers as intellectuals we can
begin to rethink and reform the traditions and conditions that have prevented teachers from assuming their
full potential as active, reflective scholars and practitioners. (Giroux ) Greater teacher autonomy
encourages teachers to experiment in their practices and become active in their pedagogy. This will likely
relate to greater learning outcomes or quality teaching.
Perceptions of how to treat teachers must not only change, but teacher culture within schools must also be
altered. Jewett and MacPhee (2012) wrote in To Our Teaching Identities that Teachers were initially
dismayed when faced with finding a coaching partner. ( Jewett; Macphee, 2012) An element of quality
teaching is too expanding the discussion on the successes and failures of what is happening in your
classroom and to reflect on the outcomes. While teachers can gradually improve and reflect on their
outcomes initially, they will eventually plateau in their results. Engagement and reflection from other
teachers will provide alternative methods on how to reach greater achievement of outcomes. Opportunity

for teachers to reflect on their teaching practices with other teachers becomes an implemental role
improving teaching practices. To reach improvement in measurable outcomes, teachers must not only
have greater autonomy but they must also expand their discussion beyond the confinements of their
To summarize, quality teaching can only be determined by measurable outcomes which express if
students display learning and a depth of understanding or they do not. Too much variation in teaching
practices and environments make it too difficult to incorporate these elements within a workable
definition. The outcomes are only as useful though if teachers are provided the opportunity to engage and
reflect on their practices. To be a quality teacher, one must demonstrate measurable outcomes of
improvement among their students, which will likely be achieved through the consistently reflecting and
alternating their teaching practices based upon the outcomes. This includes experimenting with practices
that may result in failed results. If teachers are not provided the time to reflect and collaborate on their
practices then these outcomes are not worthwhile. Teachers need the ability to engage in the discussion
on their results with their colleagues and the educational community to continually better themselves and
reach quality teaching. Measurable outcomes should not be implemented to restrain the teacher and
discourage creativity and innovation of their practice, but should be used to understand if they are
achieving quality teaching or not.

Fenstermacher, & Richardson. (2005). Makinger determination of quality in teaching. Teaching College
Record, 186-202.
Giroux, H. (n.d.). Teachers As Transformatory Intellectuals. Critical Educators, 46-49.
Green, E. (2010). Building a Better Teacher. The New York Times Magazine.
Jewett, P., & MacPhee, D. (2012). Adding Collaborative Peer Coaching to our Teaching Identities. The
Reading Teacher.
Mosle, S. (2014). Building Better Teachers: Mastering the craft demands time to collaborate--just what
American schools don't provide. . The Atlantic.
University of Michigan . (2015). High-Leverage Practices. Retrieved May 2015, from TeachingWorks: