28 May 2021
By Mark Richards,
There are lots of things that contribute to somebody being a great teacher. Two teachers can be quite different as professionals but equally effective in the classroom. However, there are a common set of traits that most teachers display. You could say that if you’ve got these qualities yourself, you’ll make it as teacher.
Passion and enthusiasm
Excellent subject knowledge is obviously a prerequisite for being a successful teacher, but more important than that is the need to be passionate and enthusiastic. Teachers need to show passion and enthusiasm for their subject, but they also need to share a similar commitment to young people. When you combine such passion with the ability to be on the same wavelength as your students and to relate to youngsters, you truly have a winning combination.
Organisation and Planning
An effective teacher is always one that is totally organised and thoroughly plans lessons. This doesn’t mean that lesson plans have to wordy or lengthy, it just means that the teacher has always carefully considered the needs of all the students in the class. Being organised means remembering things, being meticulous and always being totally prepared. Naturally, a great teacher will be able to adapt even when things go wrong - such as when technology fails – but these instances are few and far between.
Reflective and open-minded
A good teacher is one that is always open-minded and willing to try new things. It’s about accepting that things will not always go to plan and that sometimes different approaches are needed with different classes. Reflection is another vital trait for any teacher. It’s a constant and continual thing. Teachers need to reflect on their practice every single day. It’s important not to beat yourself up about things when lessons go awry (as they undoubtedly will at some point). Teachers shouldn’t be too hard on themselves. Nobody can be perfect all the time. At the same time, a good teacher is constantly trying to do things better for their students.
Consistent and persistent
Something that pupils will always be quick to spot is inconsistency. Students often see inconsistency as unfairness, so being consistent in the way you treat the children and apply school policies and the like. As important as consistency is the need to be persistent. Teachers should never give up or relax in how they maintain standards and expectations.
Teachers need to be excellent communicators first and foremost. They need to be clear when giving instructions, obviously, and the most important thing is the need to be able to communicate in a way that suits the children who are in front of you. It’s no good having excellent subject knowledge if you can’t impart that knowledge in a way that your pupils will understand and engage with.
Don’t be too predictable
There’s a difference between being consistent and being too predictable. Yes, students should welcome the routines and standards you set. However, the best teachers always have the ability to surprise from time to time.
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