What Makes a Good Teacher?

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Issues & Ales: WBHM and the SED Ask What Makes a Good Teacher?


Good teaching is central to effective education – perhaps its most basic component – but in trying to pin down what actually constitutes good teaching it’s clear that there are a lot of questions swirling around the topic of “What Makes a Good Teacher.”

  • Are good teachers born or made?
  • What types of teacher training programs produce the most effective teachers?
  • How do you “couple command and compassion” to find the right balance?
  • Once a school has a promising teacher in the classroom, how do they support them?
  • Everyone agrees teachers need to be evaluated, but how? Test scores and student performance? What do we do with teachers who don’t measure up? How we we reward teachers for excellent work?

We want to know what YOU think when we host “Issues & Ales: What Makes a Good Teacher.” The concept is simple: Gather at a local restaurant, enjoy some good food and drink (available for purchase), and talk about one of the most important issues facing our state. The event is Thursday, May 24, at 5:30 p.m. at The J Clyde pub. Our format is quite informal. We’re inviting WBHM listeners, educators, parents, business leaders and other community members to come to The Clyde and discuss teacher quality. We’ve also invited some special guests.

Dr. Michael Froning

is the Executive Director of the Birmingham Education Foundation, an organization whose mission is “to bring the voice of the community to Birmingham City Schools’ leadership and to work with that leadership to provide a range of support to allow the system to fulfill its mission and vision.” Froning is the former Dean of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Education. Under his leadership the School of Education dramatically lifted its performance in urban education while maintaining its reputation for producing many of Alabama’s award winning educators.


Dr. Debbie Voltz is Dean of the UAB School of Education and Director of the Center for Urban Education. Voltz is a Birmingham native and graduate of West End High School with more than 25 years of experience as an educator and champion for urban students and children with special needs. She has garnered millions of dollars in research money and published scores of academic articles and book chapters on topics ranging from strategies for success in diverse classrooms to urban special education in the context of standards-based reform.


John Mayer is a professor of mathematics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He’s also the principal investigator for the Greater Birmingham Math Partnership, a National Science Foundation-funded project “dedicated to improving mathematics education in the greater Birmingham region and contributing to better mathematics teaching and learning well beyond.”

Brad Fournier teaches fourth grade, all subjects, at Birmingham’s Sun Valley Elementary. He’s a father, founder of the school’s chess club, and an education blogger. His Sun Valley Knights chess squad recently did battle at a tournament, taking home two first-place team trophies, one for the K-5 division, the other for the K-8 division.


The event kicks off at 5:30 p.m. with comments from our speakers, then a guided conversation between the speakers and attendees. Issues & Ales is part of the outreach efforts of WBHM-FM 90.3, a listener-supported service of UAB, and the The Southern Education Desk. We are a consortium of public media stations in five Southern states (Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee) committed to exploring the challenges and opportunities confronting education in the southern United States in the 21st century. You can hear all of WBHM Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen’s award winning stories here.

We hope you’ll join us!