Shaping minds: how to be a fantastic teacher
Teaching is an extremely rewarding and worthwhile career that places you in a position whereby you can inspire and educate the next generation of thinkers. By interacting and setting an example for their students every day, teachers have the opportunity to change children’s lives. As such, teaching is one of the most important careers than anyone can undertake. Because of this, in order to become an outstanding teacher, you have to have a special set of skills that really ensures you stand out.
First and foremost, you must value and love what you do. A teacher who is upbeat and enthusiastic about their subject will naturally inspire their students to feel optimistic too. Furthermore, they are far more likely to enjoy the subject themselves. As a teacher, when you are passionate about your subject and the learning of your pupils, this spills over into your lessons and dramatically increases your ability to communicate with the students.
To convey this passion in the classroom you must stay up to date with the latest developments in your field, constantly seek out new information and aspire to find different ways to bring your subject alive. Every academic discipline is constantly updating with new findings and approaches. By being aware of the latest advancements and thinking, you can inform and update your lessons to keep them fresh and interesting.
A teacher is more than an instructor, they are a leader; someone who can guide a classroom full of competing and different personalities towards the same goal. Leadership is different from simply delegating and giving instructions; it requires you to become a role model for a group. To be an effective leader you need to show and explain the way forward, lead by example as opposed to purely by commands, and help to steer the group when they may go off track. All these qualities are vital in the world of teaching. It is the lessons that truly resonate with children that have the biggest positive impact on their lives as well as their academic studies.
When you think of teaching, you may naturally think of standing in front of a classroom leading a lesson. But there is a lot more to teaching than simply classroom management. Like any career, there is a lot of behind the scenes organisation which helps to ensure that everything runs smoothly. Lesson planning and marking are just some of the administration components that make up some of your time as a teacher. Excellent organisational skills will help you stay on top of your assignments, be able to prioritise when you have a tight deadline looming, and adapt when other issues or complications arise.
Communication goes beyond face-to-face interaction with pupils. Whether it is with fellow teachers, with parents or with the children themselves, having exceptional communication skills is a must in the teaching profession. On any given day, a teacher interacts with people across a range of ages, abilities, backgrounds and personalities, so it is important that you can effectively address with all stakeholders on a day-to-day basis. Being able to communicate is also a fundamental component of succinctly conveying information to a class. If you cannot explain a concept coherently to a class, then it is unlikely that your students will fully understand the information that you are trying to express. As educators, communicating is at the heart of our profession, so being able to express ideas and concepts intelligibly is an essential skill for any teacher.
Strong interpersonal skills go hand-in-hand with being an effective communicator. It is those teachers with the strongest people skills who are able to communicate and resonate with pupils the most. Similarly, strong emotional intelligence and empathy can be applied to teaching to nurture relationships between co-workers and students. This aids in motivating and encouraging children as you are able to communicate with them in a more personal way, aligning their education with their deeper feelings. As sources of support for their pupils, teachers are invaluable in providing guidance and advice from an impartial perspective. Therefore, being skilled in gauging and responding to the emotions of others is a central quality in an outstanding teacher, enabling you to be a pillar of support and guidance for all pupils.
Adaptability is another crucial skill within the teaching profession. Being able to adapt to unforeseen circumstances or impromptu adjustments allows you to remain professional and able to react to situations quickly and appropriately. Whether it is a student who has injured themselves, having to revise lesson plans on the spot or unexpected absences of staff due to illness, you have to be able to adapt quickly and effectively. The teachers who stand out are those who are ready to adapt and act accordingly, whatever the situation.
Being resilient means you are able to deal with conflict head-on and bounce back from knockbacks. Like any profession, there will be days that are difficult – students misbehaving or disagreeing, classes who are unwilling to work despite your best efforts to inspire them. Regardless of what the day throws at you, as a teacher you must be able to carry on throughout any challenges. By staying committed to your vocation and your pupils, you will build up the resilience and patience to become a great teacher.
As a teacher, being confident is a vital tool when entering a classroom. Students will automatically look to you for guidance and instruction, so being able to convey yourself with confidence goes a long way towards your appearance as an authoritative figure. Children are inquisitive and they can test boundaries, so they are bound to ask questions you are unprepared for and will occasionally challenge you. Of course, this does not mean you cannot be scared of speaking or standing in front of a classroom, but having the confidence in yourself and your authority as a teacher is crucial. By instilling a level of self-assurance into how you teach and come across to students, you will be able to manage classrooms and answer questions with more direction and conviction as well as setting an example of self-confidence to your pupils.
A brilliant teacher is one who can keep pupils engaged and interested by constantly making lessons fun and imaginative. Whether it is taking the classroom outside, using the latest technology in new and innovative ways or merging two subjects together, there are plenty of imaginative and exciting ways to make lessons enjoyable. This also helps teachers to stay passionate about their subjects by finding new ways to teach the same concepts as well as refining the best ways to communicate difficult ideas. Just remember you are an adult teacher: don’t regress back to your childhood too much.