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Inside Teaching : April 2010
www.atra.edu.au | firstname.lastname@example.org PROFESSION 17 by promoting rigorous plans to develop and evaluate teachers and principals.’ Will teachers and principals be evaluated on the basis of student achievement? While not answering specifically, Obama did point out that, ‘Wisconsin has enacted legislation permitting schools to link student achievement to the performance of teachers and principals.’ California likewise. That’s not even code. The importance of great teachers Great teachers are important, we now all know, since John Hattie reported on his great, big, meta-analytic synthesis of findings from more than 500,000 evidence-based studies of the influences of teaching methods on student learning outcomes. Research, as Hattie has been saying for some time now, indicates that teachers are the major in-school influence on student achievement. They account for about 30 per cent of the variance of student achievement. Students account for 50 per cent of the variance, and the home, the school and peer effects each account for between five and 10 per cent, but ‘teaching is the single most powerful influence on achievement,’ says Hattie, as an input that you can actually influence. So what makes a great teacher or, put otherwise, how does teacher expertise develop? As Steve Dinham, research director of the teaching and learning program at the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), explains in How to Get Your School Moving and Improving, it takes eight to ten years to become an expert at anything, teaching included. Drawing on the work of Stuart Dreyfus and Hubert Dreyfus, Dinham points out that, during those eight to ten years, teacher expertise moves through five stages from novice teacher through competence, proficiency and expertise to master teacher. Personalities or practices? The good news, as Dinham explains, is that master teachers are made, not born. There’s no secret of personality, no special level of intelligence: ‘All teachers,’ Dinham observes, ‘are capable of learning to be more effective, including highly experienced and even “stale” teachers.’ Effectiveness, in other words, is about what teachers actually do in the classroom, not what kind of person they are. Some research, investigating