Essays in Education


When preservice teachers or teacher candidates are asked, "Why do you want to be a teacher?” The response is commonly, "I want to be able to make a positive difference in the lives of my students.” Many teacher candidates continue to say they also want to be an effective teacher who will be remembered fondly by their former students. Some want to have a chance to be a better teacher than the teachers they personally experienced. However, many researchers (i.e., Frank, 1990; Fulton, 1989; Goodlad, 1990; Handler, 1993) state the axiom that teachers usually teach in the way they were taught. This compelling statement highlights the importance of reviewing and analyzing students’ prior educational experiences for insight into the effective and ineffective attitudes and actions of teachers.

The effective attitudes and actions employed by teachers ultimately can make a positive difference on the lives of their students, and this belief will serve as the central focus of this paper. By examining prior educational experiences, preservice teachers can discuss what they should or should not do with a class of students. The five frequently discussed attitudes and actions include: a genuine caring and kindness of the teacher, a willingness to share the responsibility involved in a classroom, a sincere sensitivity to the students’ diversity, a motivation to provide meaningful learning experiences for all students, and an enthusiasm for stimulating the students’ creativity.

The format of this article will address four main sections. The first section will explain the methodology used for the discovery of the five effective teacher attitudes and actions. In sections two and three, the effective and ineffective attitudes and actions will be discussed more specifically by summarizing the preservice teachers’ discussions. A research based discussion of the described effective attitudes and actions will be the focus of the fourth section.

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