A good teacher can have an incredible impact on a student’s life, affecting their outlook on life, their career choices, and their academic success. On the other hand, a bad teacher can harm a student for years. This is why we need the best people possible in the classroom to inspire the next generation of students.
This is also why good teachers matter more than school resources, the condition of the building, or even the school leadership. But what makes someone a good teacher, exactly? Let’s take a look at 7 essential qualities every teacher needs, regardless of the age of your students or the subject being taught.
At the heart of it, good teachers are great communicators, and it’s impossible to succeed as a teacher without core communication skills. Teachers need to be able to take the material and present it to students clearly and concisely.
Their communication style also has to work for all students no matter their level. Good teachers can change their teaching style to accommodate individual students without holding the whole class back. Being able to connect what kids are learning to what they know or value can engage them in the subject and motivate them to learn.
However, good teachers don’t just lecture their students. They have to be good listeners as well. They’re able to pick up on the anxieties students have and the problems they’re facing. They may realize that a child can’t do the work due to vision problems, dyslexia, or a lack of reading comprehension.
Sometimes the problem is that the child didn’t learn or understand the content in the prior year. In these cases, the child needs detailed, constructive criticism to improve everything from essay writing to comprehending story problems.
To be a good teacher, you’ll need to be dedicated to your profession and your students. This dedication will also drive you to learn how to be a better teacher and better serve them.
As a teacher, your job will be to serve every student to the best of your abilities, and they need to feel that. They need to feel that you’re not giving up on them, or they’ll eventually end up giving up on themselves. If this happens young enough, this could end up affecting them for the rest of their school life.
This is why you need to understand what you truly mean to your students. You also need to make sure that you’re entering this field out of a sense of vocation. Passion and dedication are really what will allow you to last and change the life of their students. It’s also what will allow you to keep going even if the situation seems desperate at times.
Patience is probably one of the most important qualities to have as a teacher. You need to have the patience needed to not crack at the first sign of insubordination. You need to accept that each student learns at a different rate, but also know when it’s time to pick up the pace.
Patience needs to extend way beyond the classroom as well. Your patience will also be tested between teacher-parent meetings, or in your relationship with colleagues. As a matter of fact, parents can often be worse than their children. You will need to have the patience needed to defuse situations and try to give them clear explanations while keeping tensions low. So, if you have a short fuse, education is definitely not the field for you.
Effective Goal Setting
If you set unreasonable goals, you will probably fail as a teacher. You’ll also demotivate most of those in the room. Teachers have to set goals for themselves, their class, and individual students. Furthermore, these goals need to be achievable for the majority of their students.
Students have to be tracked relative to their performance goals, but that is what tests are for. Teachers need to go one step further and identify why students didn’t do well. They need to then give them clear directives on how to improve or give them a plan so they can do better. The best teachers give regular feedback so that kids don’t wait until the next test to learn that they don’t know the material.
Adaptability and Flexibility
Every student is unique, and you’ll need to understand that very fast as a teacher. They all have their own physical, emotional and educational needs as well as their own personalities.
This affects their developmental milestones and any plan set up to achieve them. You may have to create individualized education plans for students or simply replace one lesson plan for another when tutoring a child, for instance.
Good teachers need to be able to adapt to meet the needs of each student. Blended lessons can help you serve multiple students at once. Hands-on lessons and interactive content may require a lot of work on your part, but your students will love it. Just make sure that everyone can be engaged, if you want to get the most out of it.
Teachers should also need to know how to handle a wide range of questions from their students. Encourage questions and curiosity while teaching them to value freedom of thought. You’ll be able to teach them to accept others despite their differences, even as you adapt to work with each student as an individual. This is another case where you’re modeling the behavior you want your students to emulate.
The Right Knowledge Base
It isn’t enough to know chemistry or algebra to be able to teach it to students. Teachers must know how to teach to students at their level, ideally in a way tailored to each student. Teachers should be able to assess the capacity, learning style, and needs of each student. Then you have to create intentional lesson plans to teach as many students as possible the required content.
Fortunately, you can learn educational best practices so that you don’t have to go through difficult trial and error yourself. You can learn the best ways to teach any given subject matter in a good education program like the one Marymount University Online offers. Marymount University’s online doctor of education is as rigorous as the classes you’d take at their Arlington campus and is one of the programs of its genre in the south. This program is a great option whether you want to become a better teacher or move into educational leadership.
Another thing you’ll need to have as a teacher is an eagerness to learn. The best teachers are lifelong learners and they’re constantly engaged in personal and professional development. This can include learning the latest technology or taking classes to make up for gaps in your teaching skills. Let your students know that you’re still learning, too.
Teachers are open to learning from the people they teach. Ask your students for feedback, whether it is about a given lesson or your overall performance. You’ll learn what they like and don’t like as well as what issues they found confusing. You’ll learn a lot and be able to improve the lessons for next year’s class.
The Right Mindset
Teachers aren’t just there to teach the material that will be on the test. They’re expected to be role models for the class. You’re expected to set the rules, but society also expects you to model proper behavior. This means you need to have patience, empathy, and understanding while encouraging students to act the same way.
Be honest but not cruel. For example, you should give people honest feedback without being harsh or mocking. Be sensitive to their mood and their overall personality, because a joke going the wrong way can hurt them. Be willing to give kids privacy so they can self-reflect or regain self-control. Don’t push them to share their thoughts and feelings, much less do so in front of the entire class.
On the other hand, you will also need to let them know that there needs to be a barrier between you and them and establish your authority. This can be delicate since you might have to take different approaches with different students or groups. While a soft conciliatory approach might work in one setting, a hard stance might work better in another. So you’ll need to be able to read a room quickly and come with the best approach depending on the situation.
Great teachers are also great motivators. They know how to make their content interesting, and help students understand the real-life applications of what they’re learning. Students always remember those who were able to instill a love of subjects they didn’t have before, and this is one of the things that could separate you as a teacher.
Teachers have a major impact on their students. This is why you should only consider teaching if you have the essential qualities required for the job. If you do, know that you’re urgently needed to help educate and guide the next generation.