To some, teaching is the only rewarding profession to be part of, whilst to others it can be their worst nightmare. As with all professions, teaching is not suited to everyone. However, even within the profession itself there are those who fail and others who excel. Those who excel in this role do so because they possess a range of unique characteristic, either inherent or learned well. The following are just seven of the most important characteristics and skills that go towards the making of a good teacher.
Either from a natural ability or through a process of learning, good teachers will have leadership qualities and skills. They will use this attribute to encourage students to follow the path of learning that has been set for them, and to generate a real interest in the subject. Therefore, instead of viewing the topic as simply a part of the daily timetable, students will look forwards to the experience.
Good use of leadership skills can build a leaning culture, with which every student in the class will desire to be a part of and want to become involved. As many leaders within the commercial world are called visionaries, so the teacher with good leadership skills will make their subject come alive in the minds of the student, making it a real experience rather than a journey through hard copy of text books and journals.
Organisational skills are extremely important to good teaching. This has to be obvious in the way that the teacher has prepared for the lesson they are giving and, in addition, the structure of the lesson, providing a natural flow for developing the subject being taught. Similarly, if equipment needs to be used or special arrangements made during the lesson, a good organisor will have prepared this in advance.
Students will react to the level of organisational capability displayed by the teacher. For example, they are less likely to take a topic seriously if the teacher has to spend part of his or her time lesson trying to work out what they want to do or say next. Displaying this level of disorganisation will lead to students becoming distracted and not taking the learning process seriously, thus limiting the knowledge they receive.
Understanding the art of good communications is essential for anyone in a position of delivering knowledge to others. This skill involves speaking, listening and watching. With regard to speaking, the teacher has to be able to deliver the subject in a voice manner that will generate interest and response from the student. The changes in tone and emphasis in the voice and the delivery will stop the tutoring from becoming a monotonous dirge, and will compel the students to pay attention.
However, communication is also about listening. There needs to gaps of silence within the delivery to allow students the opportunity to digest the information they have received and construction questions they may wish to ask for the purpose of clarification, further explanation or to give an opinion. When the student is speaking, the teacher has to use his or her own silence to concentrate upon what is being said, as this will help them to assess how successful they have been at imparting knowledge. The good teacher will learn as much as the student from this interaction.
Watching is another aspect of communication. Often a teacher may have up to thirty students attending their lesson, but it is important that he or she makes a connection with each. By watching students, good teachers will be able to notice if any are being left behind in the learning process, or if confusion is arising. Using communication skills the teacher will be able to address these issues if they occur, therefore ensuring the effectiveness of the message delivery.
A good teacher will build relationships with his students; relationships that consist of mutual trust and respect. This can be seen as an essential element of the learning process. If a student respects and trusts his or her teacher, they will trust and respect the message and knowledge that teacher imparts to them. Similarly, a good teacher has to respect those being tutored to enable them to deliver the subject matter in a positive manner.
To excel at his craft, a good teacher will also know how to maintain discipline within the classroom, without which the opportunity of delivering a positive and heeded message will be seriously undermined. However, the discipline exerted will be built on the back of the relationship that they have developed, with the student. In this case, the disciplinary culture for the class will become an almost automatic reaction of students, making the task of teaching and learning a great deal easier.
Just as humour is a part of life, so it plays a role in teaching when used appropriately. It can add texture, realism and life to even those subjects that many students might consider mundane. Humour can also enhance the connection between the teacher, student and the subject, creating a sort of bond between these elements. Furthermore, it can provide much needed relief in subjects that have an intense nature.
Finally, a good teacher has a commitment to their work. Many will say that it is a vocational calling. Whether others agree with this or not, there is no doubt that the best teachers have a passion for their work and for imparting knowledge to those willing and ready to learn.
Good teachers disavow all the trappings of wealth and success that might attract to other careers in which they could probably be equally successful. To him or her wealth and satisfaction comes solely from the knowledge that they are helping to train and build solid foundations of knowledge and understanding for the generations of tomorrow.