First-Hand Teacher Effectiveness at Quakertown Community Highschool

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Elizabeth Glenn, Staff Writer

A teacher’s influence on a child’s life can be immeasurable. Educators are the key factors in the future of students, setting a foundation of success for school-age children. From teaching them to read, write, and perform arithmetic, to teaching them life skills that will serve them well into adulthood, teachers can inspire and spark passions for subjects. Contrary to a general assumption, test scores aren’t the only thing that a good teacher can impact, and many teachers agree with this. Everything spanning from attendance to mental health can be affected, of course, depending on the effectiveness of the teacher. 

We’d all love to say that we adore our teachers, and some of us can speak of a great connection between educators and students. It would make our day to be able to say that we enjoy coming into class, specifically because of that one human being that perches at the front of the class. But sadly that isn’t always the case. 

Quakertown Community Highschool students were surveyed on their thoughts about their school’s teachers. A whopping 36% reported that their teachers make coming to school “enjoyable.” This is clearly disappointing news. While the students play a huge role in their own educational experience, teachers are significant as well. As the higher power of schools, isn’t it partially a teacher’s job to make certain that their students are enjoying their highschool experience? Is this really a question that should be asked? 

It needs to be addressed exactly what the students are talking about. In this same survey, the question was posed, “Think of a particular teacher that you dislike. Why is that?” The responses that were collected point to a severely disheartening result. Words like, “slow,” “inconsiderate,” “intimidating,” “repetitive,” and “monotone,” were used to describe some teachers at Quakertown Highschool. One person even claimed that their teacher doesn’t, “care about teaching and [doesn’t] try to help the students.” The responses from this have a general consensus that some of the teachers can be confusing and stressful at times. 

So what about this 36% who do like their teachers? What do they have to say? We asked the same question but in a different form. “Think of a particular teacher that you do like. Why is that?” These responses give something to smile about, because it shows that not all teachers are looked at in a negative way. We received words such as, “friend,” “caring,” “understanding,” “engaging,” “fun,” “organized,” “positive,” “knowledgeable,” and “personable.” These responses were more detailed, and the students are clearly very enthusiastic about the teachers they feel they learn from. A common trend in this feedback is that the teachers speak and treat the students like a human being, and not a child in a classroom. A lot of people speak about their influential relationships with their teachers that have grown over the years. 

95% of students say that the type of teacher plays a role in their grades. 45% of the students surveyed are A-B students, and 72% of them don’t think their grades are an accurate representation of their knowledge. 60% say that if they had a different teacher for the class with their lowest grade, it would be easier to be successful. One student says, “They read off of powerpoints instead of actually teaching. Their teaching style doesn’t compliment my style of learning. Too much work, not enough notes/class instruction, quizzes with little notice.” Clearly there are things that need to be changed, because students are struggling.

What needs to be changed is a whole other subject. Is it the teachers’ personalities, their teaching style, their knowledge? It is apparent that the students don’t have an issue with the knowledge factor, because 91% of the surveyed population say their teachers are in fact very knowledgeable about their subject. 

While the results of the survey are not promising, the responsibilities of the students need to be considered. Students tend to project their frustrations concerning the subject matter onto the teachers when given the opportunity. There’s a good chance that the students themselves need to work on their role in the school. While teachers play a big part in our educational experience, there will always be students who are unmotivated from the start. Maybe for them, the type of teacher doesn’t matter, and their responses could skew the results of the survey. Sadly, not an insanely large population of the school participated in the survey. Although I’m sure if the data was extrapolated, we would see the same trend in the results. With this being said, the end-point of the survey is theoretical. I took into account the possible downfalls, and decided to get any other possible sides of the story. 

After being asked if he believes that this survey was effective in exposing the educators efficacy, an unnamed teacher from Quakertown Community Highschool stated, “No, I think the survey is effective when it comes to gauging student emotion and perception. But, those two things are integral to the teaching process. While it might not be an accurate representation of a teacher’s skill, I think it’s something that teachers should pay attention to.” I then proceeded to ask him how he feels about the overwhelmingly negative results. He responded, “I feel disheartened, but I think that it’s important we recognize the student’s role. Teachers have been facing challenges this year, and students tend to project struggle outward instead of taking a hard look at their work ethic. The results of the survey should not be used to condemn teacher effectiveness, but cue teachers to the importance of teacher-student relationship building.”

Quakertown Community Highschool’s students have shown their concerns and endorsements about their teacher’s effectiveness. It is clear that there are ups and downs with the consensus, as there will be with any reflective survey. There are factors that need to be noted, factors which could have altered the results. While there were many positive things mentioned in the survey, there was a general conclusion about the teachers at the highschool: some may need to re-examine their contribution to the future and success of students. A teacher of unsatisfactory qualities in their teaching can cause major setbacks for the students and the atmosphere of the classroom. We call on the administrators for self-reflection in order to improve the overall quality of our learning.