What makes a great teacher?
There are more than 10 qualities that go into making someone good at what they do but the following represent my top 10:
If your heart and soul isn’t in the job then you aren’t going to be feeling great. To be a great teacher means you have to be enthusiastic and thrive on the challenges that teaching will throw at you. Passion shines through in everything a great teacher does and that includes all the less attractive parts of the job. Teaching isn’t for everyone and yet some persist with it and moan about it when it isn’t really the right fit.
2. A Sense Of Humour
Every brilliant teacher I know has a SOH and is generally happy, motivated and has fun. You can’t be a great teacher with a SOH. Children love a teacher who can share smile and jokes because the day is very lonely and desolate without them. A school day is packed with drama and emotion, tempers, clashing egos and it’s fast-paced so if you have a SOH then you can cope and manage what comes your way. Your stress levels are much lower if you have a SOH!
To be a teacher you have to be confident. Your confidence is what gives children confidence in you. Children don’t want to see dithering, indecisiveness and someone with self-doubts and insecurities but a teacher with belief in themselves and a belief in everyone else. You are a role model to your colleagues.
4. Critical Reflection
Thankfully teaching is full of learning curves and great teachers make full use of them by being critically reflective. No one can reasonably expect perfection in a ‘human’ business and mistake-making isn’t seen as a negative but an opportunity to do things differently. Great teachers learn from everything they do. They don’t make New Year’s resolutions but set themselves week-by-week realistic ones.
5. Positive Attitude
If a teacher doesn’t have one of these then it is game over. A positive attitude is central to any job but it is especially important when surrounded by children. Positive thinking is contagious and helps lift others but it helps you more than ‘survive’ but thrive. A great teacher avoids toxicity and builds resilience through positive reframing.
6. Social Skills
Teaching is a social job and that means working with and alongside a vast array of personalities. Social skills are important as you are a role model for children and they see how you interact and behave towards others. Relationships can’t all be wonderful but they can be professional and positive and packed with empathy. Great teachers have great communication skills and know how to get the best out of everyone.
Flexibility is a key skill for a teacher because you are faced with umpteen situations and scenarios that need a level-head. No two pupils are alike and this means being adaptable to different needs. Great teachers are quick to change approaches and are skilled at using various strategies to help others achieve.
Forget work-life balance because that doesn’t exist. Great teachers are always giving and are dedicated to their jobs.
To be a great teacher, you need endless dedication and a real belief that you are making a difference. Being dedicated is an art form – you learn it and become a committed professional by being a devoted and faithful teacher who champions teaching and champions children.
9. Emotional Intelligence
You’ve got to be emotionally secure to be a great teacher because this helps you cope and manage with one of the toughest jobs on the planet. Emotional intelligence helps you meet challenges without being overwhelmed by them, it helps you meet the needs of children, manage stress, navigate politics and form great relationships with others.
Even though we imagine all teachers to be blessed with bags of patience, a surprising number aren’t! Patience is a must-have in a learning environment as it breeds calmness, promotes discipline, overcomes failure and helps you stay in control.