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5 Skills All Great Teachers Must Have (Part 1)
Teaching is one of the most rewarding and noble professions in the world as you are directly shaping the minds of our youth and influencing their growth. Many students see their teachers for more hours in a day than they see their parents. This puts great responsibility on teachers to raise the next generation of future leaders.
Being a teacher is a demanding job as you have to juggle various tasks and use different skills to do your job well. A teacher is constantly learning along with their students and should always be seeking to expand and improve their skills in different areas. We’ve all had great teachers in our lives, so what makes them so great?
Here are five skills that all great teachers must have. Do you have them all? Which areas do you need to work on?
1) Listening Skills
You may be surprised this is first on the list. Shouldn’t the teacher do most of the talking? The answer is actually no. Being a good teacher means knowing your students well so you can assist them better in their learning journey. The best teachers listen actively to understand their students’ needs and interests. You want your students to feel comfortable to speak up from the get go, so they’re not afraid to ask you questions and to communicate any concerns and issues with you for the rest of the school year.
How to develop this skill: Give your students more opportunities to speak up and share about themselves. Ask them questions about their lives and show genuine interest in what they have to say. Don’t cut students off when they’re talking and make sure to give them your full attention when they are sharing.
Teachers work with students of all backgrounds and learning styles. Some students may be intrinsically motivated to learn, but others may require an extra push. It’s important to be patient and keep calm in all situations. It shows your students that you are in control and that they cannot easily make you lose your cool. However, be careful to set proper boundaries so your students don’t purposely test your patience. Let them know what is expected of them and be harsh when necessary, just never get angry.
How to develop this skill: Be more aware of your feelings and responses. Between stimulus and response, there’s always a pause, which allows you to choose patience over anger and frustration. If you did not grow up in a patient household, it may be harder for you to keep your cool. However, recognize when you are feeling agitated and take a deep breath before you respond.
3) Organization Skills
A teacher is always juggling many tasks from planning lessons to delivering lessons to grading student work to meeting with students and parents to working with other teachers and administrators. Being organized is key to avoiding unnecessary stress. Have a plan in advance for every class and make sure you have the necessary materials. Actively manage your time and environment to minimize the number of surprises throughout the day. When you’re organized, you can focus on teaching in the classroom rather than worrying about a million other things on your to do list.
How to develop this skill: Make a plan for your lessons to know what materials you need and what topics you want to cover. Use a calendar to schedule lessons, assignment due dates, tests and meetings. Use binders to organize your teaching material. Have a to-do list with prioritized tasks to declutter your mind. Keep your classroom and office area tidy.
4) Communication Skills
Teachers are in constant communication with students, other teachers, admins and parents. A teacher needs to be good at both verbal and written communication to deliver a lesson effectively and to maintain a good relationship with all parties involved. Make sure you speak clearly, and maintain good body posture and eye contact. Check that your written instructions and learning materials are clear. Even the ability to make an appealing and informative yet not overwhelming PowerPoint is a vital part of communication skills.
How to develop this skill: Imagine how you sound and look from the perspective of the people you’re talking to. You can even record your lessons to see how you can improve in your verbal and physical conduct. Watch public speaking videos (like TEDTalks) to learn from great speakers. Use PowerPoint templates and other lesson templates to make better written material.
5) Creativity Skills
Creative teachers make the classroom fun and engaging. No students like having a PowerPoint teacher who just reads from the slides and asks students to copy notes. Being creative means using a variety of materials and teaching strategies so that students are always engaging with something new. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or effort to be creative, sometimes a small change can turn the lesson up a notch. For example, get students to act out a scenario rather than just having them explain it.
How to develop this skill: Get inspiration from other great teachers by doing research online for lesson ideas. Incorporate a variety of projects in class to get students more involved in the learning process. Give them more opportunities to present and work together with their classmates. Use games, songs, drama, presentations and other activities to change it up.
Do you agree that all great teachers have these skills? What other skills do you think great teachers have? Share them in the comments below.