There is a huge difference between becoming a teacher, and becoming a good teacher. Good teachers have a huge impact on learners and help them engage in lifelong learning. Good teachers can make a world of difference on a child from any age. Think about your schooling, do you remember a particular teacher who believed in you, inspired you, helped you, and made you confident that you could succeed? These good teachers are vitally important. Conversely you probably remember a teacher who didn’t seem to care about the students, didn’t make an effort to help you learn, or told you you weren’t good enough. These are not the kind of teachers that children and youth need today.
WGU helps you become not just a teacher, but an excellent teacher. With our online education degrees, we make sure you have the skills and knowledge you need, but these additional qualities are extremely important to help you succeed. This guide will show the top qualities you need to become a great teacher.
Teaching is such an important and noble profession, but there are some characteristics that can really help you ben an even more effective teacher. Every teacher is different, and that’s a good thing. Different teachers can reach different students in unique ways, which is valuable for their success. However, there are some fairly consistent traits among great teachers.
Patience. Every student will have their own unique struggles. Some will have a difficult time reading. For others, math will not come easily. For others, being able to sit still during school is the struggle! Patience in a teacher is key to helping students overcome their struggles. With large classrooms and many students who are all different, patience is a must for a good teacher. And, demonstrating patience as a teacher is a great way to be a role model to students. Patience is an important characteristic for effective teachers in both practice and as a model.
Empathy. Empathy is an important quality for teachers. Children and youth have big feelings and are often dealing with more than we know outside the classroom. As a teacher, it’s important to be able to empathize with what they are feeling, even if it may not seem like a big deal. Children and youth need to have their emotions validated in order to understand and process them well. This is crucial in helping them become emotionally mature. Teachers who aren’t empathetic can’t help students overcome real difficulties, trivial or severe. As a teacher it’s vital to be able to put yourself in a student’s shoes and help them feel understood. When you teach, it's important to be sensitive and thoughtful to make sure the learners feel they're in a safe environment.
Drive for self-improvement. A great teacher should be able to look at themselves objectively and see where they can improve. That can be in teaching methods, subject matter, or people-skills. When teachers can review themselves and know where to focus their attention, they can become even better. Teachers should also be willing to engage in lifelong learning, whether that be going back to school for a master’s degree, attending conferences to help them learn more about education, or reading books and articles about their field. Anything that teachers can do to increase their understanding is vital to their success. Educators who are willing to learn as well as teach are important to the future of learning.
Adaptable. When working with other people, students or other teachers alike, certain expectations may not always be met. Your teaching methods may not work in a certain way with a certain class, schedules may change, adjustments may need to be made with little or no notice. A great teacher can adjust their teaching methods and expectations so they can still find success. They are willing to always evaluate what is working for their students, and adjust where needed. This trait is vital for teachers who want to help each unique individual find success in their classroom. It's an important characteristic when teaching to always move your lessons around in the way that promotes learning in the best possible way.
When it comes to teaching, there are also many interpersonal skills that teachers need in order to reach the next level of success.
Suspension of bias. A teacher won’t be able to accurately assess the needs of students if they can’t see past bias. They need to be able to objectively look at each student to help them in whatever way they need. Additionally, bias could prevent teachers from presenting material correctly and accurately. So teachers need to be able to suspend their personal bias in order to do the best for their students. Learning needs to be done in a safe environment, so when you teach you need to remove anything that can make you see students in a less favorable light.
Stress management. Teachers are faced with stressful situations every day. They need to be able to keep their cool in order to be good role models for their students. Outbursts could be discouraging or even frightening for students, leading them to lose trust and interest in education. It could also lead to a loss of respect from students, which can create chaos in a classroom. Stress management is key to being a great teacher. As you teach, it's important to be prepared for all kinds of situations that can arise. Make sure you can create a great learning environment no matter what comes.
Communication. Teachers need to be good communicators in able to meet the needs of their students. They can’t effectively assess the needs of students if they can’t communicate openly with them. Teachers also need to be able to communicate with other teachers and parents well. Communication is key for teachers to be successful in their profession. Learning and teaching are connected through good communication.
Teaching rather than instructing. A good teacher should be focused on making sure their students truly understand the material, rather than just lecturing and hoping it will compute. Great teachers are concerned with the retention of their students, making sure they really know and can do the work, not just checking off the boxes for the lesson plan. Great learning comes from teachers who are focused on that comprehension.
There are a variety of things that teachers can do to become even better in their profession including:
A master’s degree that can help you learn more about the educational field and improve your skills.
Attending education conferences to help you connect with and learn from other teachers.
Reading articles and blogs about new studies in education and new teaching techniques.
Listening to podcasts to help you increase your knowledge.
Connecting with other teachers on social media to help you gain new insights.
Asking colleagues and superiors for insights.
Having these skills are vital to helping you become a great teacher. Experienced teachers and principals learn how to identify the best candidates for teaching positions quickly; that makes it essential to embody the qualities of a great teacher not just in the classroom, but throughout job applications and interviews.
WGU can help you prepare for a teaching career by giving you the credentials and skills you need to find success as an educator. And once you have those credentials and skills, you can focus on developing the other traits that will help you have great relationships with your students and become an engaging, caring teacher.