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Good Teachers in Schools


Role modelling is thought to be an integral component of medical education. We identify people as role models when they inspire imitation and influence people working with them to develop new skills and achieve their potential. Students learn from continuous observation of the ways their teachers handle difficult and stressful situations, how they relate to their patients, and how they deal with ethical and moral issues.


When it comes to learning, the importance of great teachers can’t be underestimated, not least because teachers have a significant influence on student achievement. Almost everyone can name a teacher who stands out in their memory because they were particularly engaging, encouraging or inspiring.


Using data from more than 500,000 studies, Professor John Hattie, Director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute at the University of Melbourne and a lead investigator in the Science of Learning Research Centre, conducted a meta-analysis and ranked various influences on student learning and achievement.


In one recent study, the most highly regarded teachers in a large department of medicine were asked to specify the personal qualities, teaching skills and clinical competencies they considered most critical for effective role modelling in medicine. The findings indicated that good teachers are enthusiastic, friendly, easy-going, able to develop rapport with learners, committed to the growth of their students, approachable, interested in learners as people, and always conscious of their status as role models. The participants were then asked to list barriers to effective modelling and these included being quiet, being overextended, having difficulty remembering names and being impatient and impulsive.


He found that the impact teachers have on student learning is greater than other factors that often dominate public debate, such as class size, technology, individualised instruction, streaming by ability and changing school calendars or timetables.


The influences with the most effect, by far, were teacher-related: both teachers’ expectations for their students and their level of expertise topped the list. For teachers to inspire students, they need to make the effort to understand their own impact and what methods work best in the classroom.