Teaching is a noble profession that allows you to shape the future through consistent engagement with bright, young minds. A teacher's job is very demanding, and they have to use a wide range of skills to perform their job well. Knowing what skills and qualities make a good teacher can help you prepare for this career. In this article, we will discuss the 10 most important skills of a teacher and provide you with some tips and tricks to develop them on your own.
What are the skills needed to be a teacher?
Teachers require a variety of skill sets for creating lesson plans, instructing students, working with administrators and interacting with parents. While some of these skills and qualities like patience and leadership are inherent to individuals, you can develop most of them through practice and training. Teachers use their skills to create a conducive learning environment that facilitates the development of their students. While formal training and education prepare a teacher for their job role, on-the-job training is crucial for their personal development.
Teachers may also perform a range of administrative tasks as part of their job. They often have to facilitate smooth communication between the school and its students, the school and parents and sometimes, even between students and parents. To perform these tasks in an academic environment, you will need a combination of hard and soft skills.
10 best skills of a teacher
These are the 10 most important skills you should develop for a successful career in teaching:
1. Critical thinking skills
With strong critical thinking skills, teachers are able to consider the best interests of their students while also working within the institution's goals and standards. Teachers of primary and secondary schools must also remain aware of parents' expectations for learning and discipline and ensure that the classroom has a safe and nurturing environment.
How to develop: You can develop critical thinking by practising self-awareness at all times. Acknowledge your biases, preferences, strengths and weaknesses to understand your own thought process better. Try to evaluate situations objectively before making decisions or taking actions.
Teachers of all levels should know their classrooms will represent a variety of cultural backgrounds, learning styles and intellectual abilities. Dedicated students will likely contribute more to class discussion and be more easygoing, but many students present other challenges like conflicts and disruptions. Teachers should be able to keep their cool in such situations while maintaining a balance between their own expectations and the students' unique personalities.
How to develop: Patience is a character trait that is inherently found in individuals. However, you can develop patience by identifying possibilities for impulsive behaviour and monitoring them consciously.
3. Communication skills
Teachers should ideally be good at physical, verbal and written communication. Strong verbal communication means that teachers make their lesson materials and expectations clear while presenting concepts in a way that students can understand. When teachers stand tall in the classroom, smile often and make eye contact with their students, they seem confident and kind, which will likely lead to more student engagement in the course.
How to develop: You can improve your communication skills by reading and writing regularly. You can also improve the effectiveness of your physical communication by being mindful of your posture and mannerisms.
4. Organisational skills
To be effective, teachers must be able to manage their study materials and students' assignments well. A well-organised classroom should have all the necessary tools like books and technology in places where they do not distract students.
How to develop: Practise organisation while you prepare for a lesson. Create a structure for storing and using your study materials effectively. It is good practice to maintain binders and folders for different students where you can store all their study materials, assignments and progress reports. Prepare a calendar and plan out how you will fit your to-do list items into each day.
5. Creative thinking abilities
Teachers of younger students might learn to incorporate performances (like singing, drawing or mimicry) into their classroom to stimulate learning. Secondary or higher-secondary educators teaching older students may use media like films, music and the Internet to illustrate ideas and concepts in detail.
How to develop: Practise an artistic hobby regularly, regardless of your expertise. Consider using brainstorming activities in the classroom, and appreciate unconventional and innovative ideas. Consume creative content for inspiration and share appropriate takeaways with your students.
6. Leadership skills
Teachers need to practise leadership skills inside and outside the classroom. To show strong leadership skills, you may accept additional duties like coaching a sports team or directing a student club, like chess, quizzing or drama. Teachers with strong leadership abilities may be more likely to advance to senior positions like principal.
How to develop: To showcase your leadership abilities, you can volunteer to take on responsibilities that lie outside your day-to-day work. You can evolve your skills and competence by occasionally stepping out of your comfort zone.
Read more: Leadership Skills: Definitions and Examples
7. Capacity for teamwork
Similar to leadership, teamwork helps teachers interact kindly and effectively with other school personnel. Teachers frequently have meetings to come up with the best curriculum and classroom practices for students. In these meetings, teachers with strong teamwork abilities can accept input from others, even if they have differing opinions.
How to develop: For successful teamwork in the workplace, it is essential for all involved parties to share a common goal and channel their collective efforts towards it. It helps to be open-minded, to be able to handle differences in a mature way. You should be well aware of hierarchies and the nature of the work to function effectively within a team.
8. Time management skills
Teaching is a job that extends outside the classroom. Teachers need evenings and weekends to plan lessons, grade papers and occasionally shop for classroom materials. To maintain a healthy work-life balance, you will need to develop good time management skills. Some strategies may include setting aside certain hours of the day for relaxation, exercise or other personal activities.
How to develop: Create a schedule for your tasks and adhere to it strictly. With time, optimise your work processes to find more free time for yourself, after your work. Prioritise tasks and set deadlines. More importantly, break down complex tasks into smaller segments and handle individual segments at a time.
9. Computer skills
As classrooms continue to incorporate technology, computer skills are becoming more important for teachers to have. Besides tracking grades, educators may use computers to formulate lesson plans, worksheets, study guides, tests and other deliverables. Teachers also use digital media in the classroom, including online videos and interactive exercises to make their material more engaging.
How to develop: You should try to stay updated on technological advancements in your field. Try out new learning tools and apps that facilitate learning. Share your knowledge with your students and be open to learning about technology from them.
Read more: Computer Skills: Definition and Example
10. Conflict resolution skills
Part of a teacher's responsibilities includes being able to manage disagreements and conflicts in a classroom. Teachers of younger children might encounter conflicts over sharing resources like books, games or toys. A teacher with well-developed conflict resolution abilities will display patience and active listening to consider each viewpoint and come to a compromise.
How to develop: Approach every conflict as an opportunity to take away some positive learnings. Ensure that discussions do not escalate into arguments. Teach students to cultivate mutual respect for their peers, even in times of conflict.
Qualities of a good teacher
Good teachers often have the following qualities and characteristics:
- They are good at setting goals: Teachers have to set goals for themselves and their students. They also have to ensure that these goals are met within a particular time frame. As a teacher, you should set realistic goals and evaluate the performance of individual students to suggest improvements.
- There is clarity in their communication: You have to break down complex concepts and explain them to students in a way that they can understand. This requires you to be articulate and to have a good command of the language.
- They act as role models: A good teacher should be able to set examples for their students to follow. Your students should see you as a source of inspiration.
- They are adaptable: Teachers often deal with students and parents who have distinct character traits and personalities. They must be able to adapt to these diversities effectively, to be able to perform well. You must also be well-prepared to handle changes in work settings.
- They prepare: Teaching takes a lot of preparation. Teachers create lesson plans, assignments and tests well in advance to maintain smoothness in operation. Teachers also have to help their students prepare for situations like exams and extracurricular events.
- They practise self-reflection: Good teachers can monitor their own performance, identify weaknesses in their teaching style and make consistent efforts to improve it.
- They promote curiosity and a love for learning: As a teacher, you should try to make learning fun for your students. Your students should not perceive academic tasks and assignments as hurdles. Instead, they should approach them with curiosity and see them as opportunities to learn.