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Extraordinary teachers : values and attributes

Kennedy, Aileen and Cassidy, Claire (2012) Extraordinary teachers : values and attributes. In: European Conference on Educational Research, 2012-09-17 - 2012-09-21, University of Cadiz.

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This presentation will focus on primary school student teachers’, teacher educators’, primary pupils’ (5-12 years old) and primary teachers’ views of what makes an extraordinary teacher. This forms the first phase of a more extensive inquiry that is designed to explore the values and attributes of those identified as being extraordinary teachers. This initial study is being carried out in Scotland with a view to creating a methodological design that can be extended to a wider range of international settings. This is particularly important given the current strong global policy emphasis on increasing teacher quality (OECD, 2005; OECD, 2009), resulting in the reform of teaching workforces across the developed world. Resulting policy, however, tends to have a managerial focus, with an emphasis on standards, efficiency and externally driven accountability (Sachs, 2001; Doherty & McMahon, 2007). What is arguably missing from the current policy trajectory across Europe is any fundamental consideration of the more abstract aspects of what it is that makes an extraordinary teacher. It is posited that such teachers are easily identifiable by those who work alongside them and so we sought to take this approach in developing the methodological design for this study. In analysing the data we draw on Goe’s (2007) framework derived from synthesis of empirical studies which links teacher quality to pupil outcomes. Goe identifies four categories of teacher quality: teacher qualifications, teacher characteristics, teacher practices and teacher effectiveness, and in analysing the data we sought to identify whether particular categories of quality were deemed to be more prominent in extraordinary teachers. This presentation addresses the following questions: 1. What do student teachers and University tutors think are the features of an extraordinary teacher? 2. What do teachers and pupils in two local authorities think are the features of an extraordinary teacher?