What makes a good teacher?
A good teacher will draw upon many different qualities during their time in the classroom. If you are thinking of becoming a teacher, you'll need to be a good communicator, a great listener, and have lots of patience and empathy. You'll need to take command of the classroom, absorb and master best practice teaching methods, and be passionate about learning and helping others learn.
An effective teacher can make a massive difference in their pupils' lives. The best teachers help their pupils obtain good grades and teach them several skills, and become essential figures they can rely on, impacting their long-term success.
If you are looking to start your career in education, it's a good idea to explore the necessary skills and qualities you'll need to become a good teacher.
So, what makes a good teacher?
The qualities that good teachers share
Strong communication skills
Teachers need to communicate effectively with a whole range of people. Over the years, teachers will likely be responsible for different classes and age groups, so they need to learn how to communicate with children who have just started school through to teenagers undertaking those all-important examinations. Teachers also need to communicate with their colleagues, and parents of the pupils they are responsible for as well. So it's not just about delivering learning material effectively but also sharing pupils' progress, raising concerns, and taking on board feedback.
Excellent listening ability
The ability to listen well is a vital teacher skill. Listening is not just about allowing another person to speak but genuinely hearing them. Pupils might find it challenging to communicate all of their thoughts and feelings, and a good teacher will be able to listen to them, seek to understand them, and listen and observe so they can pick up on what isn't being said as well as what is.
A collaborative approach
The most successful teachers tend to adopt a collaborative approach to learning, where teachers and students work together to explore different subjects and understand them. Working collaboratively rather than simply dictating information is beneficial and will help engage pupils with their learning more effectively.
Working collaboratively also means sharing best practices and information with colleagues and learning from other educators too. Teachers who help other teachers, who keep an open mind, and who are willing to wear many different hats, are the ones who find the most success and enjoy their role more too.
Flexibility and adaptability
A good teacher must be flexible and adaptable to the ever changing needs of the school, classroom, curriculum, and the pupils themselves. Policies, curriculums, and best practices can change, and teachers must adapt their teaching methods accordingly. There is no 'one size fits all' approach when it comes to teaching, and those who can show a degree of flexibility in their approach to educating will be able to get the most from their pupils as individuals.
Empathetic and understanding
Pupils have other things going on in their lives other than just school, and their home life or social lives may become challenging at times. They also may find some subjects more difficult or tedious than others, have behavioural or concentration issues or become easily distracted at times. It is a teacher's job to try to be empathetic and understanding and to try and find solutions to help their pupils feel more positive and find it easier to stay alert and attentive in class.
Engaging and passionate
The best teachers will be truly excited to teach, will love their subject, and honestly believe in the value of education. They'll be invested in their pupils and be committed to helping them master the subject matter and achieve the best grades they possibly can.
Patience is truly a virtue that all teachers require! Teachers will inevitably come up against challenges in behaviour, pupils who struggle with the subject matter, pupils who get distracted, changes to plans, interruptions and disruptions, and many more obstacles that will require a lot of patience. Being patient with pupils and understanding that everyone learns differently and that what might be easy for some will be challenging for others is all part of the job.
Committed to lifelong learning
Teachers are learners too! The best teachers will continue to learn and improve with regards to their subject matter, best teaching practices, and adopting new technology. The more committed you are to learning and improving, the better equipped and skilled you will be. By committing to expand your own knowledge, you'll boost your pupils' knowledge too.
Good teachers are skilled teachers
Good teachers have to be many different things. Just knowing your subject isn't enough. It would help if you had all of the above skills and traits to become the best possible teacher possible. Some of the above qualities may come more naturally than others. Still, by engaging with your own learning and development, you will find that you will embody more and more of these qualities and therefore continue to become a better teacher because of it.