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This is behind the classroom door a series of discussions produced by WFIU Af-Am and the College of Education at Northern Illinois University and distributed by the national educational radio network. Our topic for this program is who is truly a successful teacher. Aries the moderator Dean Robert after. Our topic today is who is truly a successful teacher. And I can't imagine anything that is more timely but wasn't timely throughout the history of formal education because children and after children grew up they always were talking about the teachers the good wins and the bad ones. And of course there are many kinds of teachers. We sometimes think that you have to be a salesman type an extroverted to be individual to be a teacher but I'm sure this isn't true there must be broad range years within which a person can be an effective teacher some factor that reminds me when I was in high school one of the most successful teachers I had at least in terms of my own opinion was a
geometry teacher who lacked the characteristics that are usually identified with successful teachers. But nevertheless I liked him learned a great deal from him. Well but. It seems to me that there can be such a thing as a good teacher. I wonder what you mean when you say lack to most of the characteristics of a good teacher seems to me that perhaps he would have been a better teacher if he had some of the characteristics that others have. He may have been but the idea was that he could still be a good teacher even though he lacked these characteristics. What do you mean he was a good teacher in spite of those characteristics. Well the idea that he was able to keep the attention of his class and to teach in subject matter very wow. What if you and your fellow students as a result of his way of operating. Just like the subject matter from that point
on I can remember a teacher a history teacher who was fantastically successful in getting the youngsters to acquire facts. They learned very thoroughly and they had the facts when they were through with their course and they hated history from that day on I think this is true I think this can happen I remember a teacher one time that I had a knack of getting youngsters to learn things. But after you completed the course you decided right there never again would you take a chance on that. There is something about the personality and then the nature of the teacher I think that has a lot to do it is excess. I do think it's quite important to consider whether we're talking about an hour Mantri teacher or a secondary teacher or university. Teachers are already averse to teacher I think with an elementary teacher when a child has to spend the entire day with a
particular teacher personality factors are much more important than at secondary level at the secondary level. Since a person would have five or six teachers with him a day certainly having one teacher whose personality is quite different. Then the desirable type of personality we associate with DG would not necessarily him dare his effectiveness for one hour. You know that's an important point. It takes a different kind of person I think to be an effective teacher of young children than older children and surely a teacher who leads a person through his doctoral dissertation program. And since we're in the game preparing teachers I think we're aware of this that the elementary school teacher must have more of the psychological skills and the concern for the individual's
personality than perhaps a secondary teacher in the first place a second teacher as you pointed out doesn't have the time with all those youngsters used to. This is true it's entirely different on a secondary level bad than on the elementary. However I think that on the secondary level we have the problem of the teachers involved with the students only in the classroom while in the elementary of course they're involved all day long. It's interesting to note to me that the high school teacher has the problem of working with. Youngsters for a short period of time but in many different ways not only in subject matter but their personality and their behavior their characteristics and adolescent drama. There are all involved all involved with on the secondary level. I wonder if it went even be possible to make a rather convincing
argument that it's better to try to get into the teaching profession a variety of personalities. With the idea that a high school student for example needs to be exposed to stern disciplinarian as he needs to be exposed to people who are not so well arranged and people with a good sense of humor. You know the variety of life of people it is good to me. We've been talking mostly about personality factors we recognize there are some skills that can be acquired during a preparation period through the internship activities and things of this nature. We haven't mentioned the contribution to successful teaching of subject matter knowledge of the subject. I think that it's almost a shame that we hear an argument over and over again. Subject Matter is more important than the method or that method is more important than the subject matter. After all method
is simply a means of presenting subject matter and it's absolutely essential that the teacher knows a subject matter before a method can make sense for that particular individual. Well actually many young teacher just going out on his first job is suddenly struck by the fact that all of his relatives expect him to have all the answers all of the sudden after having just finished four years of college or perhaps five. He's expected to have all the answers. After all you're a teacher aren't you. Is it that a curse. I think that's true of the. The thing is that. I think so much emphasis is placed upon the way a person teaches that when you hear criticism of teaching it tends to be more in the way a person is teaching in a manner or method of his teaching. Rather than his knowledge of subject matter that there have been numerous studies indicating that the main reason that a teacher
fails is his inability to control a class on the presumptive subject matter rather than a lack of knowledge. That is interesting isn't it that really when you come right down to its leadership it's a kind of a demonstrated leadership. And this has to do with the teacher's understanding of the children I suspect. I don't think there's any question about that and in fact the subject matter is important and especially on the secondary level in high school and junior high school. That is automatic but it's also necessary that they have some way of stimulating the youngsters too. Absorb this information they're giving. In fact I think one of the strongest characteristics of a good teacher is his ability to act and respond. He has is class so the class understands what that he has certain
emotions in and something that can break taught either right. That's right. That's right Dean type I don't believe that you can ever really teach this the future teacher either has the idea of acting enough to present and respond to his class are you never will have it. First we have to be able to identify those characteristics in a teacher than if we have an effective selective admission program. I think the emphasis upon subject matter is rather clear in our own program at Northern especially at the secondary level. We require only 11 hours as Dr. Nelson and I was you know professional education for people who are going into secondary by 11 hours I mean 11 hours of Secondary Education Department actually teaches out of one hundred twenty six you know reduced What about one hundred
twenty hours and. If you consider 11 hours out of over a hundred twenty hours it certainly shows that we're not over emphasising the importance of methodology or knowledge of the learning process method. Courses are not included in that because it northern method courses are taught at the bar in the academic areas. Of course I didn't want to imply that a teacher was born and not made I don't think that's quite true. I think that many a young person going through his teacher preparation programs and having his close observation of children in the classroom and then going on to his internship or a student teaching. We're under the critical eye of his various supervisors does learn some of the skills of working and communicating with children. After all it boils down to the fact that
teaching is communication right. Absolutely I think that's right all of our verbal emotional and social all kinds of teacher communicate himself. You know it was interesting many years ago to have the former Senator Taft of Ohio say. That he didn't care if a teacher in the classroom at any level was a communist as long as the teacher didn't teach communism. That song's somewhat ironic to me because I don't understand how a person could possibly have a firm conviction. Without having that conviction and color his teaching. We've been talking a great deal about a teacher's personality. I think teachers whole apperception masseur what a teacher has experience in his own life is bound to enter into his teaching and influence youngsters. And I noticed in the paper last night for example that
the superintendent of instruction Ray page indicated that he felt that in addition to the usual requirements grade point average class rank and so forth concerning admission to college that we should in the ON-OFF tried to adopt a standard of conduct. Our record of a person's conduct as a criterion for admission to the university. I realize it would be very difficult to do but I do think that we're placing a great deal of emphasis upon behavioral objectives in there our educational program and perhaps aren't putting enough ounces upon changes in behavior of the people who enter the teaching profession. Well you know Mike I have to agree with you that we can't separate the teacher in the classroom from his personality. From his own personal history. And although I'm not sure that we can prevent people or should prevent people from entering the
profession who have unusual ideas. I do believe that in our country there's a tendency to idealize the teacher the teacher is supposed to exemplify what is best in our society. Now whether this is right or wrong I don't know I suppose we could debate this at length. Somebody was saying well here the teacher in the classroom. So is that something is injurious let's say that young people shouldn't smoke and then the teacher is observed at a football game or smoking a cigarette. Some parents are used to at least object to this I suppose there are other more modern illustrations I think. That I can agree with the example concerning smoking although I realize that many people in the teaching profession feel that teachers should set a good example for youngsters by not smoking. However I think there are standards of conduct that are acceptable for adults. There are other standards of conduct that are acceptable
for adolescents and children. And that a child or adolescent has to learn that there are certain acts or certain things that he can do as an adult that he is not permitted to do as a child. Now about one of those acts are injurious to a person as an adult shouldn't he recognize that in this person that he tends to idolize at least in the elementary schools we know that children tend to think of their teachers to be quite perfect. So here's the teacher. Doing it doing something wrong whether that is injurious to the teacher or to society. Idealistically I think if we could prove that smoking is harmful and there seems to be some evidence to that effect it would be nice if all adults quit smoking. And I think teachers are human therefore we can expect about the same percentage of people in the teaching profession to be small as you would
expect to find on any other related regression. Maybe that's the point we're asking teachers on one hand to be very human and well-adjusted to communicate with children and to identify with children so that they can understand them thoroughly. And then to act as though they were not human that they were better than the typical American citizen. And I think that picture of the teacher as being the ideal person is changing pretty rapidly I think that we're all beginning to realize that they're part of the community and they do things that other groups do. They're interested in improving their conditions their welfare. They have been forming organizations teacher organizations and they're joining the union. They're making an effort I think to improve teaching and give it the status that deserves. And I think this is affecting the general outlook of the teaching profession I don't believe any more of that. That is that
students believe if they go into teaching that this means they can never be like other other people and I think we have a strong obligation to assure them that they can act as normal and as regular as any citizen of the community and that they should participate in the community and be part of it. I think also in the sense we have over 2 million teachers in the United States and still have a severe shortage a critical shortage of teachers. It's very important for us to try to make the teaching profession attractive to the type of person that we wish to enter the teaching profession. And if we place restrictions on the teacher that are not placed on other people who are professions that we're actually going to have a great deal of difficulty in attracting people to the profession. I have read studies indicating that teachers are seldom models for children and adolescents. Now this isn't as true at the elementary level as at the
secondary but people tend to identify with individuals who they feel that they can some at least in some ways imitate or they may become the same type of person when they are adults. Teachers too often I think try to give the impression to a youngster that they are not human and don't have human faults. I think frankly there are more people more adolescents who have identified with Bonnie and Clyde as they do. But I'm afraid it's true. But you know it is true it was you who agreed Dr. Fox that some people should not become teachers. There are some people who lack call into love or affection or understanding other human beings who are in need of help in some form or another educational or otherwise who just don't belong in the profession. Definitely I think that's part of our job is to try to identify
those people before they go into the teaching profession and to tonsil them out of the profession. In fact I think we're doing them a favor and we're certainly doing that. Hundreds of children with whom they'd come in contact a favor. Well actually we did probably do this at least efficiently of all because of the difficulty of identifying personality patterns interfere I suppose is done gradually through the internship or student teaching. I think that many of our students that we have in student teaching after they have completed their student teaching which is a period of nine weeks full time they have decided by that time they don't want to be a teacher and this is to the advantage of the profession and the students that are going to be involved too. Some of them just don't have the personal qualities other than their lie or their love for children. And I believe it requires love in order to be a good teacher. They just don't have the enthusiasm and the inspiration to be a
teacher they watch teachers as they've gone along and they'd rather do something else and I think this is good. I think we want only the people that are dedicated to it. And that doesn't mean monetarily necessarily I mean is it that people who like to work with other people a real feeling for them. You know it's been another kind of person has occasionally gone into teaching that has failed in my experience this person. Has a shortcoming in the area of organization and I think they're unable to keep say 30 especially younger children where the leadership is so direct and continuous to keep their programs moving to keep them busy they will tend to concentrate on one child and the rest of the children in the room were completely forgotten. They all failed to prepare for a lesson in a sufficient detail to take care of individual differences. And I have worked with people
like this and have been able to change you know the words I feel are of some people who are disorganized ways fundamentally to a point where they cannot go into a classroom and provide the leadership and the organization that is necessary to keep these youngsters moving ahead. I wonder if the teaching profession in some ways doesn't attract. Perhaps more than its share of such people because an individual Well I enter college deciding upon one career and eventually will drift into teaching seems to me we pick up a very large number of people in teaching profession who have started out to be ministers and juniors and who eventually drift into teaching without given giving careful thought you know what profession requires in many cases this is probably good because I still believe that this good teacher we're talking about is an idealistic person a
sensitive version person with a lot of social consciousness who will give O him a sound beyond the call of duty it's not like going to work and working so many hours and going home. And so this type of individual doesn't enter the teaching profession. How low is you indicated. The millions of people that are in teaching at various levels does demonstrate that a wide range of individuals do go into teaching. I did a study at Northern a few years ago on which I found that 61 percent of the men in a sample of teaching of our teaching blocks. Did not decide to enter teaching until they were in college. This was secondary at the combine men and I know that he's mostly second elementary level unfortunately we have very few men but it surprised me of that 61 percent had not decided to enter the teaching
profession until they were in college. That was rather in sharp contrast with girls who mostly became elementary Yaz who became elementary teachers. But 27 percent of the girls as opposed to 2 percent of the boys decided to become teachers when they were in elementary school. For some reason men seem to delay this decision and also in the same study we found that a rather large number of men had selected teaching as a second or third choice and ended up teaching. Yes they ended up teaching but actually it was their second or third choice. That's not unnatural because I think in many professions. An individual has started out in for some a year in some other career and then eventually drafted into a profession that he has selected. Maybe this this vacillation and the choice of
occupation during the first two or three years of college is quite common. I heard some statement recently that the typical college student changes major four times. Well this means that many of them are among that group of under glared majors or they declare a major they decide they want to aim in one direction and then they talking to friends and decide they will want to shift. And this man problem an elementary education is pretty serious I think for some reason or other well the reason I guess is very obvious our society doesn't view elementary education with such high esteem for men as it does secondary teaching for men and and the young man is likely to choose some secondary field don't you discover that to be who. Yes that's true the meantime men like to be in the on the secondary level teaching in the junior and senior high school even especially in the senior
high school. I think it's normal for. Men to hesitate in selecting their occupation but I also read recently that men are very satisfied with teaching after they once get into teaching and have the experience of working with young people. Then they decide they like it and they're glad that they did this. Why do so many leave the profession within their first couple years and you know for if they don't like it so well It amazes me that we're losing about one half of our teachers within the first couple years of teaching. You know it might be that money as the reason and may not necessarily be that they don't like teaching but maybe they aren't effective teachers. Maybe there's a person whose name I can understand why a man especially a man with high aspirations would not select a teaching profession
until a number of changes are being made. Seems ridiculous to me that teaching profession in elementary and secondary schools. Has adopted a common salary schedule in which the only two factors that seem to be important are the number of credit hours a person has taken beyond his bachelor's degree and the number of years of service and I would see an assumption not a teacher. Two teachers with 10 years of experience and 20 credits each pass their bachelor's degree are deserving of the same pay. Seems to lack any sound basis in my opinion and I've been rather pleased to see some of the recent writings do a day on indicating that we need to change our salary system to one based upon differentiated pay for differentiated work so that our master teachers can
perform a different type of service and be exposed to a larger number of students than teachers we have who are rather marginal. Well this would be on the basis of assignment. But you still would. From your point of view you would like some type of a merit evaluation of teachers within each of those groups and the teachers themselves do not want this. They have I think and I think they lack faith. In our ability to judge teaching effectively and I think that's true at all levels however merit pay for example seems to be fairly well accepted at the university level. Certainly it's just as hard to judge merit at the university level as it is at the elementary or secondary level. In fact since college students are still blazin than perhaps who would sit through a college class that they would refuse to sit through at the high school level I think it's even more difficult to see overt signs of poor teaching at the college level
and at secondary level. I tend to agree with you all teachers having the same experience in the same preparation should not receive the same pay. When I concerned the teachers are worried about this process the movement of the unions and the teachers groups is to standardize the salary scale. And I wonder if this doesn't encourage the hardworking ambitious teacher to coast a little bit and aim at a kind of a mediocrity. I think it definitely doesn't but I think it's a mistake to base. So our brains upon what the majority of any group would prefer. I think all of us want security and therefore if we have a nice set salary schedule in which we go up one increment each time and certainly it's going to be quite. Convincing to the majority
of people owners they're secure. But I don't think we draw good people outstanding people into a profession that has a type of sorry sex schedule. Well this may be changing and one thing that we should recognize is that teaching is a wonderful profession right with the appropriate person and there's a wide range of individuals who can succeed at teaching the present national attention. Teaching in the education of children younger and older people. There's no question about what teaching is going to become a better profession for everybody and has enormous satisfaction. They of course would like to encourage as many people as possible to at least examine the possibility of teaching and they don't have to make up their minds when they're in elementary school. They're wonderful if they come in so highly motivated. But after investigating at the college level or at any
level they may decide that teaching is a great profession where the contribution you can make to society is perhaps even comparable. And teachers do do a good job. But we know that and make that point behind the classroom door produced by WFIU Af-Am in cooperation with the College of Education at Northern Illinois University each week focuses its attention on one of the many challenging aspects of public school education. The program is moderated by Dr. Robert F. top dean of the College of Education at Northern Illinois University. Today's guest were Dr. Robert Nelson head of the department of secondary education at Northern. And Dr. Raymond Fox associate dean of the College of Education. Next week's topic will be the parents impact on student scholastic success. I'm Fred Pyle and this program is distributed by the national educational radio network.
Behind the Classroom Door
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Behind the Classroom Door is a radio series from WNIU-FM about education in the United States. In each episode, faculty from the Northern Illinois University College of Education address specific issues related to public school education and operation. The program is produced in cooperation with Northern Illinois University and distributed by the National Educational Radio Network.
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Chicago: “Behind the Classroom Door; 1,” 1968-11-13, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 3, 2024,
MLA: “Behind the Classroom Door; 1.” 1968-11-13. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 3, 2024. <>.
APA: Behind the Classroom Door; 1. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from