When I think of an effective educator, one word comes to mind: responsive. To be an effective educator you must constantly respond to colleagues, respond to changing theories and knowledge in the field, and most importantly, respond to learners. Teaching is often done in teams, and as such, it is necessary to respond to your team when they have questions or requests. You must be an alert, contributing member of a team in order to sustain the important work being done. Teaching is an ever-evolving profession; it is not static. Not only do curricula, materials and standards change, but entire learning and knowledge theories come and go, and in order to be the most relevant and successful educator you can be, you must respond to this evolution by constantly incorporating such changes into your practice. Finally, all educators must be learner-focused. If the individual needs of each learner are not being met, then you are not doing your job. In order to address these incredibly varied, and often hidden needs, educators must be responsive to the signs and messages our students constantly emit. Teaching is a service, and in order to best serve your population, you must constantly respond to their needs.
Along with responsiveness, an effective educator must have compassion, motivation and integrity. Teaching is a difficult career. It is filled with long hours, overwrought emotions and the exchange of personal values. For an educator to succeed and thrive in the field, you must have true compassion for learners and for the act of learning itself. You must be motivated by education and self-betterment, and you must stand by your every action with integrity. Teachers do not merely impart facts and knowledge – they mold future citizens. Let’s mold the most successful and effective citizens we can.