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Pathways to student success: The teacher effect

Teachers play a critical role in the academic success of students. We all remember the educators who made a positive and lasting impact on our lives. What are those factors that best affect teachers' impact on student success?

  • Self-efficacy beliefs

Teachers' self-efficacy beliefs impact their confidence, motivation, enthusiasm, and commitment to practice in any discipline. The stronger the self-efficacy beliefs of educators, the greater the frequency, quality, and diversity of activities students will have access to in any subject area, and the greater the motivation teachers display when facilitating these activities.

  • Professional knowledge and expertise

The professional knowledge and expertise of teachers determine their ability to organize, optimize and execute learning content and goal-setting skillfully and with greater attention to the individual needs of students. Teacher preparation programs must prioritize an educational framework that integrates developmental and learning theories, pedagogy and practice, and conceptual or disciplinary knowledge across the curriculum for a more holistic approach.

  • Relational aptitude: Social-emotional maturity and communication skills

Students thrive and learn best through responsive relationships. Educators with social-emotional maturity, good communication skills, and relational aptitude are better poised to provide "serve and return" (reciprocal) interactions and feedback loops to students. This creates a loving and safe learning community for students that encourages learning, risk-taking, individual and independent thinking and problem-solving.

  • Mediational skills: Resources, opportunities, and affordances

It is not mere self-efficacy, professional knowledge and expertise, and relational aptitude that will guarantee the internalization of students' learning, academic, and overall developmental growth. Teachers must possess the ability to mediate and scaffold learning concepts and skills, as well as provide access to resources, opportunities, and affordances targeting students' diverse learning styles, thereby expanding their frames of reference.

  • Commitment to professional learning

As the educational research field continues to expand, content knowledge and instructional strategies also evolve. Further, due to geopolitical and social challenges, the educational landscape is subject to continual structural and process changes. Enhancing pedagogical practice for greater impact requires educators take their role as public intellectuals who play a formative role in students' lives seriously. Continual professional learning and growth, exposure to new methods, inquiry (research) and disciplinary fields, as well as embracing innovation in learning and instruction, expand educators' professional knowledge and instructional preferences.

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