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Making the Grade: Great Teachers in Our Schools [Infographic]

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Lately it seems that being a teacher gets worse and worse. Less pay, longer hours, and an increasing number of uninterested kids. Has being a teacher lost all its nobility?

Actually, it looks like those who go into teaching are in it for the long haul. Most of them, 91 percent, identified that the desire to work with children was a big part of their decision to become a teacher. Sixty percent make the decision to become teachers while still in high school.

Of course not everything about teaching can be learned; most of it comes from experience. By their fifth year of teaching, self evaluation percentages went way up in all areas from classroom management, to motivating students, to dealing with coworkers.

Making the Grade: Great Teachers in Our Schools

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Great teachers don't come from a piece of paper and your qualifications don't mean everything. In 2005 a master's degree in education was the highest held degree at 47 percent; in 2011 that has dropped to 43 percent.

Teachers are givers. Their time, attention, money, everything they give to their students. They can expect to spend an additional 90 minutes after the school day providing after school help and attending staff meetings. Another 95 minutes at home for grading papers and preparing classroom activities. The teacher who is involved in coaching or extracurricular activities can see an eleven hour work day.

This year, 92 percent of teachers spent $450 of their own money without being reimbursed for school and classroom supplies. Now if that’s not commitment, what is?


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The editors at Top Teaching Colleges decided to research the topic of:

Making the Grade: Great Teachers in Our Schools

- Each Fall, more than 200,000 new teachers enter US classrooms
- Who will become a great teacher?
- 26% of teachers in 2011 had been teaching for just 1 to 5 years

Lesson One: Most teachers are in it for the long haul

- 91% of the respondents identified the desire to work with children as a very important factor today in making the decision to become a teacher
- 77% reported that their decisions were not influenced by the lack of other options (This should say something like - 77% chose a teaching career); a teaching career was a positive and desirable choice, issues that did not factor heavily in their decisions to teach
- including beginning teacher salary (74%)
- advancement opportunities (70%)
- salary potential (70%)
- The respondents' decisions to become teachers were made early in life
- 60% of respondents decided to become teachers before they had graduated from high school
- 35% had made the decision while they were still in college
- 77% of the respondents would choose to become teachers today, and a similar majority; 76% would encourage family members to become teachers. Even more; 83% would encourage their students to become teachers.
- They plan on sticking it through - no matter how long their hours or how low their pay
- National average starting salary for a teacher: $30,377.
- Computer programmers start at an average of $43,635,
- Public accounting professionals at $44,668,
- Registered nurses at $45,570.

Lesson Two: Great teachers are made, not born

- Teachers are mostly self-taught! Most teachers felt incompetent in their first year, but soon get the hang of things
- Feistritzer's (2011) survey of teachers
- Classroom discipline - 28% "not very" or "not at all" competent
- by the end of 5 years: 78% feel "very competent"
- Classroom management - 25% "not very" or "not at all" competent
- by the end of 5 years: 84% feel "very competent"
- Time management - 21% "not very" or "not at all" competent
- by the end of 5 years: 77% feel "very competent"
- Deal with administrative hierarchy - 23% "not very" or "not at all" competent
- by the end of 5 years: 73% feel "very competent"
- Organizing instruction - 16% "not very" or "not at all" competent
- by the end of 5 years: 85% feel "very competent"
- Ability to motivate students - 12% "not very" or "not at all" competent
- by the end of 5 years: 78% feel "very competent"
- Deal with fellow teachers - 12% "not very" or "not at all" competent
- by the end of 5 years: 84% feel "very competent"
- Ability to teach subject matter -- 9% "not very" or "not at all" competent
- by the end of 5 years: 93% feel "very competent"
- How teachers feel they learn best
- Valuable criteria in Developing Competence to teach (according to teachers):
- Ones own teaching experience: 83% very valuable
- Clinical/field-based experiences 83% very valuable
- other teachers/colleagues 76% very valuable
- life experiences: 64% 'very valuable'
- courses in subjects being taught: 64% 'very valuable'
- professional development activities: 45%

Lesson Three: Qualifiers

- today in education you don't have to hold a master's degree in order to be a great teacher
- An increase in professionals from their fields are finding their niche as teachers
- Although teachers say they want to be better qualified, there has been a DECREASE in masters degrees achieved by teachers
- In 2005, a master's degree in education was the highest degree held 47% of the teaching force, followed by 31% who held a bachelor's degree in education.
- In 2011, the proportion of the teaching force holding masters' degrees in education as their highest degree was 43%, followed by 29% % who f

Lesson Four: Great Teachers Have the Best Laid Plans

- 53 hour work week:
- On average, teachers are at school an additional 90 minutes beyond the school day for mentoring, providing after-school help for students, attending staff meetings and collaborating with peers.
- Teachers then spend another 95 minutes at home grading, preparing classroom activities, and doing other job-related tasks.
- The workday is even longer for teachers who advise extracurricular clubs and coach sports - 11 hours and 20 minutes, on average. for teacher that advise extracurricular clubs and coach sports they spend an average
- Planning periods
- U.S teachers spend about 80% of their working time teaching in the classroom versus about 60% for most other industrialized nations
- US teachers average 3-5 hours a week in lesson planning versus 15-20 hours a week in Europe and in Asia.

Lesson Five: Great Teachers: They give and they give and they give

- In spite of the fact that starting pay for most teachers is less than the average college graduate ($46,000),
- teachers still find extra cash for their classes
- 92 percent of teachers spent $450 of their own money on classroom supplies just this year without being reimbursed
- Public school teachers in the United States spent more than $1.33 billion out of pocket on school supplies and instructional materials in the 2009-2010

photo credit: horizontal.integration via photopin cc

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Tags: activitiesattentionclassroomcommitmentconfessioncoworkersdegreeexperienceextracurricularhelphigh-schoolhoursinfographickidslearnedlesslongermanagementmastersmeetingsmoneymotivatingnobilitypayschoolstaffTeacherteachersteachingtimeuninterestedwork


  1. Greg says:

    Matt Damon rips a neocon "reporter" on his statement that 10% of all teachers are no good. search for it on Youtube.

  2. Ryan Hughey says:

    great article i loved it.

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