School Solutions

An Effective Teacher for Every Student


The importance of teachers cannot be overstated. From John Hattie’s extensive meta-analysis and from other researchers, we know teachers are the most controllable variable in students’ academic achievement. We also know a wide gap exists between the achievement of students who have effective teachers and those who do not.

You may be familiar with William Sanders’ Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System that determines the effectiveness of teachers based on student academic growth over time. The most disturbing finding is that when students have an ineffective teacher, statistics reveal they will not make up the academic loss from that year, even if they have an effective teacher the following year. Furthermore, if students have ineffective teachers three years consecutively, they have no hope of regaining the academic loss.

As stated in Excellence in Teaching and Learning: The Quantum Learning System (a new book I co-authored with Barbara K. Given), Sanders and June Rivers stress, “Administrators have undeniable opportunities to minimize the near-permanent retardation of academic achievement of many students resulting from experiencing the most hurtful teacher sequences. If the magnitude of the cumulative effects is not diminished, then students are de facto being placed involuntarily in a lottery where the ‘luck of the draw’ of the teacher sequence may play a most important role in their life’s opportunities.”

Professional Training Key

Much is expected from teachers and often little direction or support is provided on how to achieve the required results. With today’s more rigorous state standards, teachers are expected to make all students college and career ready by the time they leave high school. Without new information and professional development tools to improve instruction and develop positive learning cultures, these expectations are unrealistic. We go further to say that the major difference between ineffective and highly effective teachers lies in their design and delivery of instruction.

Quantum Learning’s teaching methods are a roadmap for effective instruction. At the core of QL is the three-phase Teaching Cycle: prepare the learner, teach new content and solidify learning. Too often, teachers focus solely on content without regard to the state of the learner. For new content to be meaningful and taken to deeper levels of understanding, students must be prepared by building their curiosity and interest prior to teaching the content, followed later by solidifying their learning through guided accountability, reflection and application. Administrators can support teachers by partnering with them through personal meetings that reveal strengths and areas where they need training and support. Additionally, through observations, feedback and evaluation, administrators can guide teachers on how to improve their delivery.

Providing resources and professional development is a priority, not a luxury. Training teachers in research-based facilitation strategies can make the difference between effective and ineffective teachers. As administrators, our mandate is to ensure an effective teacher for every student.

Bobbi DePorter is president of Quantum Learning Network and co-author of Excellence in Teaching and Learning: The Quantum Learning System. E-mail: Twitter: @BobbiDePorter