The key to success in teaching is not necessarily the same as the key to success in other professions. For most careers, it seems a drive to be the best, the willingness to work to achieve that top spot, coupled with the necessary training/schooling, can successfully lead you to your goals.
Effective teaching seems to be a bit more intangibly based. When I think about the difference in effective and ineffective teachers, two things seem to be the key to their differences.
The biggest component I see in effective teachers is the self-reflective piece of the puzzle. Great teachers spend time on a regular basis looking at what they've done in class, looking at their students' achievements, thinking about what worked well, what things were close but not quite, and most importantly, what is not working at all. They consider academics, of course, the lessons themselves, the assessments, the projects. But more importantly, they look at classroom management. How are they relating to their students, how can those relationships be improved, and what their personal role in the shortcomings of the interactions are.
The second part of effective teaching is humbleness -a willingness to admit your shortcomings, a willingness to admit you don't know all the answers, and most of all, a willingness, even a drive, to change. Teachers who are effective seek out those wiser than they themselves are, trying to find solutions beyond those in their own toolbag. They ask for advice, constructive criticism, and direction in their classrooms. They want to learn, grow and become more than the mundane.
If self-reflection and humbleness are truly the keys to effective teaching, can we teach all teachers to have those traits? Can we somehow encourage them, cultivate them, and require them? Is that possible?