Introduction:This paper presents the results of a survey on excellent teachers conducted in Hungary in 2018. The main question of the study was how pedagogical talents can be characterised by competences and personality traits according to effective teachers and their colleagues. Furthermore, what effective teachers think about their own competences and characteristics, as well as how that is related to their beliefs of pedagogical talents was tested.
Methods:The online questionnaire method was applied in the research. The sample involved effective teachers (N=92) of high-risk students (N=25) and of gifted students (N=43), as well as supervisor teachers (N=24) who were selected by judgment sampling. The control group of teachers (N=76) had similar characteristics to the sample as they were matched by the type of institution and geographical location. The data was processed using SPSS software.
Results:The excellent teachers’ beliefs about pedagogical talents showed differences in many ways. Excellent teachers of high-risk students had the most child-centred view. Not only did they pay attention to students’ needs while planning and organizing lessons, but they also found the students’ feedback important, much more than other subsamples. They also said in high proportion they can handle the challenges related to the societal level of their work. Among all the sub-samples, they indicated most frequently that excellent teachers should be happy, initiative and practical. Supervisor teachers unanimously indicated that good teachers should be highly cooperative and also that excellent teachers should be friendly and flexible. It turned out from the research that excellent teachers of gifted children used significantly fewer teaching methods than the other group. Among all sub-samples, they were the ones who found the competences of “developing student groups and communities” the least important. The data showed that the teachers in this sub-group felt less able to adapt to the changes related to the societal level of their work. The words “theoretical”, “isolated”, “serious”, „distant” appeared in a significantly higher proportion among these teachers when speaking about pedagogic talents in general. These words were frequently used when spoking about their own characteristics.
Discussion:The results of the excellent teachers of high-risk students and supervisor teachers showed similarity in many regards. Both groups seemed to be methodologically well-prepared, and able to give varied enjoyable lessons, as well as to develop student communities; and to carry out continuous reflective practice. Excellent teachers of gifted students focused on academic knowledge much more than other sub-groups. They also planned and managed their lessons differently. The background of this phenomena could be that their students’ knowledge and motivation is more homogenous.
Limitations:Although the size of the sample was not representative, the study confirmed and complemented former relevant research.
Conclusion:The results showed that pedagogical talents can have multiple manifestations., which can be caused by the wide range of pedagogical work and the related roles. On the other hand, there are different teachers’ characteristics and competences. The study also showed that teachers’ views about excellent teachers are closely connected to the particularities of the taught student group. The researchers hope that these results can be an inspiration for further studies in this field.