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Karen DeNord

North Carolina State University

Karen DeNord, Ph.D., CFLE., Associate Professor and State Extension Specialist in Child Development at N. C. State University in Raleigh, North Carolina shared her thoughts on what qualities were important for an effective teacher.

In thinking about excellence in teaching a few characteristics come to mind.

  • Enthusiastic nature—loves what she he/she is doing. Exudes joy and not burnt out. Gets out of the profession if this is not present in her/his life any longer.
  • Creativity—can consider many different learning styles of the learner and creatively convey information to the style needed. This may be through dialogue or through experiments, exploration of even the dreaded lecture. Knows that every learner is different.
  • Projection—being able to project what learners need, thinking ahead, being a bit futuristic. This can be a good management skill too so that the person is prepared and projects what will be needed based on experience multi-tasking and working with multiple types of people.

It seems that there are stages to teaching. Lillian Katz talks about this for early childhood teachers. (See: L. Katz The Nature of Professions: Where is Early Childhood Education? Montessori Life, 5 (2), 31-35.) The lower stages need more structure and guidance, set curriculum, etc while the more experienced move toward more self-reflection and leadership.

  • Networking with other teachers, being willing to share ideas and positive work.
  • Helping others, mentoring, paving the way for younger teachers.
  • Application of theory and evaluation

Karen concluded that a quality teacher would need " good base of knowledge about the learner whether the adult or child learner, knows accompanying theory and how that applies to their work as a teacher." Additionally, a model teacher "pulls from theory and constantly assesses learner needs through observation and what is known from research."


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