Study after study shows the quality of teaching is paramount to student achievement. Next to parents, teachers are the most important people in determining the destiny of a student’s academic success.

So what makes a great teacher?

To find out, the Foundation for Excellence in Education asked more than 160 of Florida’s most effective teachers. Teachers were chosen because their students made the most progress in reading or math in fourth through tenth grades, based on the results of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, the state’s annual standardized test.

These teachers shared their experience and expertise with researchers during focus groups moderated by the University of Florida’s Lastinger Center for Learning, a national leader in developing innovative professional development initiatives designed to improve instruction in classrooms across our country. Among the questions used to spark the dialogue were:

  • How do you motivate students?
  • How do you keep order in the classroom?
  • How do you use data to improve teaching?

The insights into excellence by these teachers echoed across subject and grade. These recurring themes, reflected in the words of the teachers themselves, reinforced the findings of multiple research papers and projects from renowned institutions across the country.

Secrets of Successful Teaching is organized around four general areas:

  • Building a Relationship for Success: Suggestions for building a rapport with students.
  • Creating a Community of Learning: Ideas for creating a classroom environment where students can succeed.
  • Employing Techniques that Work: Strategies that get results with students.
  • Using Data to Improve Instruction: Using assessments to maximize learning.

Within each of these overarching themes are hints and tips that make it easy for educators put these ideas into practice.