So you want to become a school teacher…..
Since mankind’s first appearance on this planet, our species has been in a constant state of learning, whether or not we have realized it. It is inherent within the human spirit to learn whatever they can to not only make life easier for themselves but also to make the world a little better place in which to live. However, humans have not learned this alone, we are taught by those that came before us.
Humans, however, could not learn without being guided by a good teacher, one that has all the qualities of successfully teaching others what they have learned. To this end the question that has been asked throughout the ages, even to this day, is what makes a good teacher?
Among the very top requirements of being an outstanding teacher is that one must have excellent communications skills. Teachers can’t effectively assess the needs of their students if they can’t communicate openly with them. While communicating with students may take up the bulk of these efforts, teachers must also learn how to deal and communicate effectively with parents, other teachers, school support staff, and school administration.
Patience is another top of the list qualities that successful teachers must have as part of their personal/professional makeup. Each student has their own unique learning struggles whether it is trying to sit still in a class or trying to learn a subject they don’t like. With large classrooms and many students who are all different, demonstrating patience as a teacher is a great way to be a role model to students and is an excellent characteristic for effective teachers.
Along with patience goes the ability to develop great listening skills. The ability to understand your students is one of the keys to being a good teacher and helps you to understand what works and doesn’t work. Each student is different and expresses themselves in their own unique way. By asking active questions and carefully listening to what students have to say a teacher can further improve their communication between themselves and students.
Empathy is an important quality for teachers. Children and youth need to have their emotions validated in order to understand and process them well. This is crucial in helping them become emotionally mature. Teachers who aren’t empathetic can’t help students overcome real difficulties, trivial or severe. As a teacher it is vital that one has the ability to put themselves in a students shoes and help them feel understood.
Having a strong work ethic is an essential quality in our list of outstanding teacher attributes. A good teacher never quits, especially on her/his students. As a role model, having a strong work ethic will help your students develop a strong work ethic themselves. To maintain a strong work ethic you have to take responsibility for many growth aspects related to your students, in and out of the classroom, as well the demands required to successfully help them on the road to becoming educated and contributing members of society.
It goes without saying that successful teachers must have outstanding organizational skills, teachers must be great organizers. Without organizational skills a teacher could really lose grasp of deadlines, expectations and tasks. By taking notes after class a teacher can easily prepare the necessary material for the next lesson and know exactly where they left off. Poor organization could potentially lead to educational waste and a waste of time. Being organized means that a teacher knows exactly where his or her students stand and that they are ready to begin the class thereby enhancing student learning and effectiveness.
Consistency is another big plus when it comes to teaching skills. Teachers should/must be consistent in their pattern of behavior in dealing with their young students. Outside of parents and other relatives, teachers are one of the very first role models that most students will have, and memories of what kind of teacher they had will remain with them many years after their formal education is finished.
Other aspects of outstanding teachers include:
Preparation: Preparation goes hand in hand with organization. It is important for teachers to prepare for their classes beforehand especially by reviewing all class materials that will be presented that day. Class lessons, answer/question time, and classroom management should all be established as part of the teacher preparation..
Adaptability: A teacher’s instructional methods may not work in a certain class, schedules may change, and adjustments may need to be made with little or no notice. A great teacher can adjust their teaching methods so they can always find success, particularly by evaluating what is working and not working for their students. It is an important characteristic when teaching to always move your lessons around in a way that promotes learning in the best possible way.
Love your job. It almost goes without saying, but it is hopeful that all teachers truly love being around and developing close relationships with most, if not all their students.
While we have reviewed traits that most outstanding teachers share among each other, the larger question would be, do YOU have the desire, the determination, the skills and grit to become a teacher in today’s pandemic environment? That is a loaded question.
Our next blog will look at the notable increase in the number of teachers leaving the profession and reasons why this pattern has seemed to have taken a turn for the worse, even before Covid-19.