Our profession gets very little respect from the general public. Low pay and tough working conditions are indicators of the dearth of respect for the teaching profession. This negative attitude towards educators can also be seen in the common argument that anyone with content knowledge can be an effective teacher. While content knowledge is critically important, we all can site case after case of people who have superior content knowledge, but are abject failures as teachers.
Many skills are evident in great teachers. Some of these are content knowledge, knowledge of child development and motivational strategies, planning, assessing learning, and relational skills.
A recent study of the kind of knowledge that makes science teachers effective found that the teacher’s subject matter knowledge is an important predictor of student learning. However this knowledge goes only so far. The more intriguing finding from the study was that “teachers who were able to predict students’ misconceptions and wrong answers are more effective than those who cannot.” The authors conclude, “A teacher knowing only the scientific ‘truth’ appears to have limited effectiveness.”
As leaders in education, we know both intuitively and by experience that master teachers are not only content experts, but they also have a deep understanding of the teaching and learning process. Now we have even more scientific research that affirms this.
“The Influence of Teachers’ Knowledge on Student Learning in Middle School Science Classrooms” by Philip Sadler, et.al. in American Educational Research Journal, October, 2013(Vol. 50, # 5, pp. 1020-1049)