Avoiding the Plateau Effect as a Teacher

Another e-mail newsletter I subscribe to is “Get Ready to Lead!” by Dr. Jeff Myers of Passing the Baton, an international organization founded for the purpose of “equip[ping] adults to personally mentor and coach the next generation of culture-shaping leaders.” The newsletter is both inspiring and practical, offering specific tips that teachers can apply in their teaching or in their personal lives. Here’s an excerpt from this week’s newsletter that I thought was a good reminder of the importance of constantly learning and growing. (It was followed by an excellent list of “Sixteen Simple Ways to Become a Lifelong Learner.“) The article is entitled “The Plateau Effect: Don’t Let it Happen to You!“:

As a teacher, I have a heart for learning. Unfortunately, for far too many educators, ignorance is bliss. A study done by Steven G. Rivkin, Eric A. Hanushek, and John F. Kain in 2005 showed that…

…There appear to be important gains in teaching quality in the first year of experience and smaller gains over the next few career years. However, there is little evidence that most teachers continue to improve after the first three years.

This is not new information. I recently reviewed a doctoral dissertation by Henry Joseph Hector, published in 1972. Hector reviewed 44 studies on teacher effectiveness and found that…

…Only 5 studies out of the 44 reviewed showed support for the contention that teachers continue to improve their performance with increasing age or experience throughout their careers. Thirty-nine studies found no continued growth in teaching performance as the teacher aged or gained more experience. These studies used an assortment of criteria for measuring teacher effectiveness; yet, the older or more experienced teacher performed at a lower level than the younger, less experienced teacher.

Interestingly, a teacher’s level of education has little to do with his effectiveness. Those with masters degrees are not necessarily better teachers. Rather, teacher effectiveness has to do with:

* Curiosity (“Why do you think that is?“)
* Growing (“You won’t believe what I just learned!“)
* Vulnerability (“I don’t know but I’ll find out.“)
* The pursuit of wisdom (“I promise you that I’ll keep learning as long as I’m teaching.“)

No matter your role in life, ask God to give you the courage to be curious all over again. Learn, grow and pass what you know on to others.

You can subscribe to Get Ready to Lead! on the home page of the Passing the Baton website.

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