BOONE, N.C. — Dr. Holly Thornton, professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in Appalachian State University’s Reich College of Education (RCOE), is the author of “The It Factor: What Makes a Teacher Great,” which builds on Thornton’s 20 years of research on educator dispositions. The book was published by Brill | Sense, an imprint of Sense Publishers, in spring 2018.
“The subject of teacher dispositions is both challenging and ambiguous, but important to teacher quality,” Thornton said. In her book, Thornton examines and redefines educator dispositions as being either technical or responsive, focusing on what these teaching styles look like in the classroom and the effect each has on student learning.
“Dispositions act as a filter that influences a teacher’s decisions and actions,” Thornton said. “Technical dispositions align well with the ongoing standardization of education. Responsively disposed teachers provide the push back to reductionist, testing-based education. They develop students as thinkers and decision makers who will guide and direct change in our world rather than consume and react to it,” she added.
The “It Factor” offers tools to assess, evaluate and cultivate desired responsive dispositions in practicing teachers and teacher candidates. Additionally, within the book, teachers share examples of their own classroom instruction styles, describing what these dispositions look like in practice.
Middle level teachers working as clinical educators authored and contributed chapters as exemplars of each of the responsive dispositions illuminated by Thornton’s research. The book includes guide and reflection questions to facilitate discussion about the topic and build understanding, as readers engage in the book to conceptualize classroom evidence-based teacher dispositions.
“One thing that really stands out about Thornton’s book and its ‘heart and soul’ is that it blends voices of teachers and students as well as their stories and experiences in a dynamic way,” said Dr. Melba Spooner, dean of Appalachian’s RCOE. “The research explores and authenticates the importance of the teacher and the continuous examination of the factors that facilitate effective instruction and relationship building that ultimately lead to the enhanced education and engagement of learners.”
“The It Factor: What Makes a Teacher Great” is available for purchase from the publisher in paperback, hardback and e-book formats, as well as from Amazon in paperback and hardback formats.
About Dr. Holly Thornton
Thornton earned a Ph.D. in educational policy and leadership, an M.S. in curriculum, instruction and professional development, and a B.S. in education from the Ohio State University. She specializes in middle grades education and serves as director of Appalachian’s graduate certificate in middle/secondary education. She joined the RCOE faculty as an associate professor in 2006 and was promoted to professor in 2017.
Prior to coming to Appalachian, Thornton served as head of the Department of Middle/Secondary Education at Armstrong Atlantic University, associate professor and middle grades program director at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and as an assistant professor, associate professor and middle grades program coordinator at Augusta State University. She is also a former classroom teacher and educational consultant.
Thornton is a prolific author, who has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed publications, and is a sought-after presenter at regional and national conferences. In addition, she has been heavily involved with leadership in middle grades education. Notably, she serves on the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE) board of trustees and as a member of the North Carolina and Georgia middle level associations’ executive boards.
Her research centers on issues of teacher quality and educator dispositions, school reform movements, with a particular interest in professional development schools, and the cultivation of best practices through the development of student and teacher voices.
About the Department of Curriculum and Instruction
The Department of Curriculum and Instruction offers a broad range of comprehensive degree programs at the baccalaureate and master’s levels. The department seeks to provide quality programs that emphasize the integration of academics and field experiences. Learn more at https://ci.appstate.edu.
About the Reich College of Education
Appalachian offers one of the largest undergraduate teacher preparation programs in North Carolina, graduating about 500 teachers a year. The Reich College of Education enrolls approximately 2,400 students in its bachelor's, master's, education specialist and doctoral degree programs. With so many teacher education graduates working in the state, there is at least one RCOE graduate teaching in every county in North Carolina. Learn more at https://rcoe.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier, public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.
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