Tenets of a Good Teacher
There are many reasons people pursue careers in education. Whether you want to devote your professional life to a specific area of study or are simply passionate about shaping young minds, teaching can be a consistently rewarding career path. Although educators tend to vary regarding their approaches to teaching, grading and classroom engagement, many of the best ones share a number of qualities in common. Anyone considering a career in the classroom will be well-served by gaining the following traits.
Being an Authority on Your Chosen Subject
While it’s true that most teachers are fairly knowledgeable with regard to their chosen subjects, not every educator can accurately be described as an expert in their field. Aspiring teachers who want to project an air of academic authority and expertise should attend institutions that specialize in their preferred subjects. Whether you pursue an online master’s in education or obtain your degree from a traditional university, the school you choose should be renowned for its degree programs in your area of interest. The more knowledge you possess, the more students will regard you as an authority on the subject and look to you for guidance.
Engaging Your Students
As is the case with any profession, some teachers simply go through the motions each day. They read from textbooks, assign homework, put on the occasional movie and regard ancient lesson plans as sacred texts. Unsurprisingly, many students find this humdrum approach to teaching uninteresting, and the teachers who utilize it generally don’t command much respect.
If you want students to enjoy your class, you’ll need to put in the effort to make your lessons engaging. This means having group discussions with your students, organizing relevant field trips and projecting charisma and confidence. The more engaged students feel, the more likely they are to put their best foot forward. Even if you aren’t a naturally charismatic person, you can get there with enough practice.
Making Yourself Available
Good teachers go the extra mile to ensure that all their students are able to understand the material. To ensure that none of your kids fall behind or feel overwhelmed, make yourself available outside of classroom hours to anyone who requires assistance. Since some students are too embarrassed to ask for help in front of their peers, make sure everyone knows how to get in touch with you via phone or email. Even if they don’t need help understanding the material, your students are sure to appreciate your generosity and willingness to sacrifice your free time.
Seeking to Continue Your Education
A good teacher realizes that one’s education never truly comes to an end and consistently seeks to expand their knowledge base. Depending on the subject you teach, you may need to attend special courses on a semi-regular basis to stay on top of the latest developments in that particular field. This will ensure that you’re well-equipped to answer difficult questions from students and alter your lesson plans as needed.
Willing to Adapt
Some teachers stick with the same lesson plans for decades, and more often than not, this is to their detriment. With changing times come advances in education and new discoveries about the science of learning. In short, what worked 40 years ago doesn’t necessarily work today.
Regardless of how confident you are in a lesson plan or syllabus, it pays to sit down at the beginning of each semester and carefully consider which items should be amended or removed altogether. Additionally, if a sizable percentage of your students aren’t acclimating to a certain plan, take their opinions to heart when making alterations. There’s absolutely no shame in changing a lesson plan mid-semester, and doing so is a great way to show your students that they’re being heard.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more important profession than teaching. Each day, dedicated teachers enhance students’ understanding of a broad assortment of subjects and provide them with the tools they need to thrive in modern society. It’s no surprise that when accomplished academics, public figures and celebrities are asked to name the people who shaped them, the names of teachers frequently come to mind. The best teachers remain with their students forever, and anyone hoping to leave their mark as an educator should possess the qualities discussed above.