There are many traits of a good teacher.
Some say it’s attributes like verbal ability, adequate knowledge, and the ability to transfer that knowledge to someone else. Others point to characteristics like enthusiasm for the job, love of kids, and the constant drive to reflect and improve.
But whatever teachers are doing right, it often can make a difference in students’ adult lives.
Students Learn More
In 2013, the Gates Foundation performed a study, videotaping 3,000 participating teachers, with experts analyzing their classroom performance. Using value-added modeling, which tracks how a teacher has bolstered a student’s ability to learn and absorb over time, researchers ranked the instructors and then randomly assigned students to the “more effective” teachers.
The study revealed that effective teachers were able to have repeat success with contrasting students of miscellaneous years. In addition to scoring well on standardized tests, students were able to take on more difficult exams, too. Recent studies have shown that lifelong learning not only has economic benefits, but also health benefits, including increased life expectancy. Teachers that help students learn more may also be instilling in them a drive to continue that process throughout the rest of their life.
Students More Likely to Go to College
Going along with the thirst to learn, good teachers also affect a student’s likelihood of going on to college. According to a study on “The Long-Term Impacts of Teachers” by Harvard and Columbia University researchers, students with good teachers are more likely to go to college and are less likely to be tripped up by other obstacles, like teenage pregnancies.
Once in college, instructors are still very important in student development. William Deresiewicz wrote in his book Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and The Way to a Meaninful Life, “Students look to mentors—figures ‘more attuned to their rising hopes’—to give them what their parents won’t or can’t: the permission to go their own way and the reassurance that their path is valid.” Whereas a parent raises a child with (hopefully) the foundation for a good personal life, a good teacher or mentor can raise a student with the foundation that sets the tone for the rest of his or her career. In essence, they can be ‘career’ parents.
Good Teachers Raise Students’ Earnings
Billionaires like Oprah and Donald Trump may have a good teacher to blame for their success. Research shows that when teachers produce students with high test scores, these students are more likely to earn more money later in life, presumably because good test scores get them into good colleges, which get them good jobs.
Obviously, high test scores don’t automatically mean that a student will be financially successful. Student success often has to do with personal drive, a good support system, and a good work ethic. However, since education is a topic of national discussion when it comes to competing internationally, a good teacher can take an average student and make him or her above average, elevating the country’s education levels.
The Bottom Line
Good teachers not only make for an engaging classroom, but they also can empower students to make good decisions outside of school, positively impacting their adult years down the road.