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Becoming a teacher is a rewarding career, but it’s not for the faint of heart. If you’re considering a degree in education, you may be wondering if you have what it takes, but what makes a good teacher? Most great teachers have several essential qualities in common, like active listening skills, empathy, good organization and a love of children.
Over the last few years, the pandemic has thrown teachers many curveballs. They’ve needed to adapt to working from, teaching entirely online, teaching in hybrid classrooms and so much more. Even in “normal” weeks, teachers often need to pivot and take their lesson in a different direction, speed up learning or go more slowly and break things down further. As an educator, you need to be adaptable so you can learn new skills or change your plans on the fly.
2. Willing to Collaborate
Great education doesn’t happen in a bubble — teachers who rely on each other can create an even better experience for their students. As an educator, you’d encounter many challenges over your career that you may not know how to face. Administration and your peers are the best resources and ones you’ll need to utilize often. If your ego and pride might keep you from collaborating, teaching is probably not the career for you. Having a willingness to collaborate is what makes a good teacher great.
Lecturing from a textbook isn’t an option if you want to have an engaging classroom where kids get excited to learn. You’ll need a certain amount of creativity to keep your lessons fresh. For those nights when you’re drawing a complete blank of what to do next, lean on your colleagues or head online for inspiration. Sites like Teachers Pay Teachers have plenty of resources for you to choose from.
4. Active Listener
Kids can tell when you aren’t really listening, and every instance will lose you a little bit of their respect. On the other hand, when you consistently give them your full attention when they speak, you’re more likely to improve your relationship with students. Good teachers use active listening to learn more about their students. You can use these skills to understand their needs in the classroom environment.
5. Life-Long Learner
Having a good handle on your subject matter is important, but it certainly isn’t the only thing worth knowing. As a teacher, one of the most important qualities is a desire for lifelong learning. When you stop growing as an educator, you stop connecting with your students and offering them the best you have to give. You’ll want to attend conferences and read the latest articles and books to stay up to date with your content and best practices.
6. Care About Kids
This one seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at the number of people who decide to go into education because they like the subject, even when they don’t like kids. Caring about kids and having a passion for the subject are both parts of what makes a good teacher.
7. Good at Stress Management
While teaching can be a gratifying career, it will test you in ways you never thought possible. Tech will fail, lessons will fall flat and kids will occasionally run amok — expect that sometimes everything that can go wrong will do so. In these times, you’ll need to rely on your other qualities and use good stress management. You must have a good set of tactics for regulating yourself and your moods.
Do You Have What Makes a Good Teacher?
Not everyone’s skillsets and personalities fit well with an occupation in education. However, if you feel deeply led to pursue teaching, you may want to give it a shot — passion for what you do may be the most crucial factor in what makes a good teacher. Make a note of qualities you could improve on and create some growth goals for yourself.