These are my views derived from a long career teaching in the P-12, system as well as a decade spent preparing teachers at Augsburg College. The areas that are critical for effective teaching include the ability to: build and maintain relationships; show an excitement about learning; make learning meaningful and relevant in the classroom; build the skills of learners by planning, facilitating, and assessing learning; establish the importance of service by connecting with families and the broader community; and finally, inspire students to be global citizens. Building relationships has always been at the core of effective teaching. Teachers’ ability to relate to the students, to understand them developmentally, and to understand their cultural context all lead to their ability to make connections that make a difference in the day-to-day learning environment. The teacher qualities of caring, warmth, empathy, and compassion help to build the trust that is necessary to create and maintain relationships. Each day, every moment, the teacher is establishing connections not only with students, but with their families, other teachers and staff, and the larger community that supports students’ learning in the classroom. How does one “connect” in today’s world? When face-to-face communication is not possible, relationships can be strengthened through online communication. Class Web pages can help families to feel included in the daily life of the classroom.
This work was previously published in the Encyclopedia of Distance Learning, Volume 1, edited by C. Howard, J. Boettcher, L. Justice, K. Schenk, P. Rogers, and G. Berg, pp. 483-484, copyright 2005 by Information Science Reference, formerly known as Idea Group Reference (an imprint of IGI Global).