A survey of outstanding teachers in Indiana refutes some popular conceptions concerning the teaching profession. The widely held belief that those who choose teaching as a career tend not to be exceptional students themselves, is challenged in a study by Kowalski and Weaver who asked principals in 54 public school districts to identify their outstanding teachers.
One thousand two hundred and forty-one teachers were selected and asked to complete a questionnaire regarding their background, educational accomplishments and attitudes. The vast majority of those surveyed ranked at least in the top 20% of their high school class with a third of the teachers having graduated in the top 5%.
They also reported a high level of involvement in extracurricular activities, an indication of later success which research in all professions has shown to be most reliable. The higher the class rank, the more involved they tended to be with extracurricular activities. Of particular interest is the fact that more than 99% of these outstanding teachers completed an undergraduate course in teacher education. Outstanding teachers demonstrate early in their careers their excellent skills; nearly 90% received A’s in student teaching. In Indiana, outstanding teachers tend to have a master’s degree, more than 16 years of teaching experience and a record of high academic achievement.
“Characteristics of Outstanding Teachers: An Academic and Social Involvement Profile” Action in Teacher Education Summer 1988 pp. 93.
Published in ERN January/February 1989 Volume 2 Number 1.