Identifying the characteristics of highly effective teachers

The purpose of this study was to identify key characteristics most commonly associated with highly effective teachers in order to assist administrators in developing sound strategies for improving teacher effectiveness. Qualitative data were gathered through individual interviews with one principal and five teachers from the same middle school. The teacher participants were selected based on their principal's recommendation as highly effective teachers. The focus of the interviews was to determine the most common characteristics of highly effective teachers, how those characteristics should be measured, and what strategies administrators should utilize to share those characteristics with all teachers on staff. Determining whether or not a teacher is highly qualified in the technical sense may be as simple as verifying college transcripts. However, determining whether or not a teacher is highly effective is another matter entirely. All too often, the characteristics of highly effective teachers go unnoticed due to the isolation that comes from teaching behind closed doors. Administrators must act as a bridge between teachers to share these highly effective characteristics. The findings of this study suggest that teacher effectiveness cannot be defined by one or two characteristics, but rather a wide range of characteristics with combinations unique to each individual teacher. It is the responsibility of administrators to identify these unique characteristics within each individual teacher and use this knowledge to develop strategies for increasing the effectiveness of all teachers on staff. Keywords: highly effective teachers, highly qualified teachers, teacher effectiveness, teacher characteristics, instructional effectiveness, instructional leadership