Great Teachers and SQ

To: Bill Cottringer

From: Van Sloan

Re:SQ and great teachers, corrections

I'm happy to try to help with your request. You have identified several symptoms of successful teachers. But I recommend you consider focusing on root causes more than symptoms, because they provide a framework for understanding what is going on.

In great teaching, I think there are IQ, self-skills, and SQ factors, as in all professional success stories. Knowledge of the subject, and an ability to communicate it well, fall into the technical skills or IQ type of area. Commonly this is considered the only real important area, especially in teaching. But consider the leaders of Enron, or Bill Clinton's problems with women. Their lack of integrity or self-discipline detracts from the brilliance of their minds. Particularly in education, students hope for a teacher who can be a role model in many ways. The greatest teachers are ones who command a respect for themselves as individuals, beyond any subject matter competence.

Perhaps most underrated for good teaching is the ability to develop a personal rapport with the students. This skill often has nothing to do with the subject matter being taught. Only teachers in a small group environment (under 40 students), and in regular contact over a period of months can really develop this rapport. Students are looking for a leader to understand them as individuals and to take a one-on-one interest in their goals and problems. This interest is not the same as a teacher's likability. The SQ survey (described at can measure both likability and understanding skills. The "understanding" outcome of SQ surveys is a number that intrigues you: the congruence of a teacher's SQ marks of class members with the average SQ marks student give each other. The closer the congruence, the more it is apparent the teacher understands the social dynamics in the class. It may be that some teachers who have this understanding do nothing with it, but I feel that is rare. Instead, I believe that most teachers who show such ability gain it in close, interpersonal actions with individual students. In other words, they care. They care about Jose as an individual, not just as a math student.

I'll bet that your work with prisoners and juvenile offenders showed that such interpersonal caring was a necessary foundation to making progress with troubled individuals. Even more that with regular school students, troubled individuals needs to feel that a person they respect cares about them personally. You might mention in Omaha this weekend that the SQ survey, perhaps for the first time in an unbiased way, identifies those teachers who have a real understanding of the personal characteristics and needs of those they work with. If Howard Gardner, inventor of 'Multiple Intelligences" at Harvard welcomes this finding with SQ, perhaps prison officials might too. Not too long ago, I had some communication with a corrections manager in the Chicago area on her use of SQ surveys.

Again, please feel free to distribute copies of this note as you wish.

Van Sloan

Inventor of Social Quotient

Go to: SQ research

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