6 Skills Every Teacher Needs
What are the key teaching skills every educator should possess
Thinking about a career in teaching but not sure if it’s the right move for you? Teaching is an incredibly rewarding profession. It’s a creative job in which you can get to know hundreds of people in your community and help them achieve their goals. But with relatively low pay, heavy workloads and a high dropout rate, it’s not the right fit for everyone. Teachers require a specific set of skills in order to not only survive but thrive.
So, just what is in a teacher’s toolkit? Here are six key teaching skills every educator should possess:
6 Key Teaching Skills
1. Communication skills
Teachers need to be great communicators. You must be able to convey information in a clear, confident, and entertaining manner. This requires not only a knowledge of the content but also a thorough command of your delivery. Factors to consider include rate of speech, emphasis of key words, intonation, eye contact, body language, and facial expressions.
You also have to be an active listener and observer. That means encouraging, interpreting, and praising students; contributions; checking and clarifying their understanding; and noting and reacting to signs of boredom, distraction, confusion, etc.
More than anything, though, you’ll need to build a positive, respectful, and warm relationship with your students. In short, you’ll need to be a confident public speaker and a people person.
2. Leadership skills
Classroom management is the watchword here. Whether you’re explaining content, leading a discussion, monitoring group work, or dealing with misbehaviour, you must maintain control of the situation. Your goal is to keep students orderly, organised, focused, and engaged at all times. What’s more, you must do so in a transparent, fair, and consistent manner. As in any leadership position, it is best to lead by example. So if you want prepared, diligent, creative, mannerly, friendly students, you must present yourself as an impeccable role model.
Keeping on top of all of a teacher’s duties can be a juggling act. You have to plan lessons, prepare materials, grade tests and papers, and write reports. Not to mention in-class time management! For this reason, organisation is one of the key teaching skills. You will demand punctuality and preparation from your students, so you’re going to need to live up to your own standards. So, what can you do to get more organised? Well, you can start by getting yourself a teacher’s planner and sending Google Calendar a friend request! For guidance, For guidance, check out this list and find the right productivity podcast for you!
One of the best aspects of the job is that it gives you an outlet for your creativity. Making learning truly engaging with an innovative idea can be genuinely fulfilling. With some thought and creativity, any activity can be moulded to be interactive, appealing, or more relevant to your specific group of students. That could mean setting up cool student projects, trying out flipped classrooms, or integrating phone apps into lessons – the sky’s the limit!
5. IT skills
Modern teachers need to be familiar with more than just Word and Excel. New software and the prevalence of computers and smartphones have opened the door to a wealth of new creative, interactive, and organisational possibilities for the classroom and beyond. Familiarising yourself with the latest technological teaching tools and incorporating them into your plans will lead to more engaging and effective lessons.
One last note on technology: It is vital that you are savvy enough to be in complete control of your online presence and reputation. If there are any skeletons in your digital closet, they could harm or potentially end your career. So think twice before you tweet, and take the time to clear out that closet!
6. Passion for teaching
Teaching is an incredibly rewarding profession, but it can also be highly stressful. Helping students achieve their ambitions, surpass their expectations, and become happy, productive, and informed members of society can provide a job satisfaction like no other.
However, things won’t always be a walk in the park. Countless weekends will disappear under piles of papers. Wonderful lesson plans will crash and burn. Student behaviour will make you want to tear your hair out. This can all add up and take its toll. A 2016 survey of British state school teachers found that over 75% work between 49 and 60 hours a week, with 43% saying that they were planning to change career in the following five years.
To be able to live with the downsides, you’ve got to be able to feed off the successes – and have a burning passion for the job.
These teaching skills are vital to anyone embarking on a career in education. But what else will you need? The University of Michigan has identified 19 high-leverage practices commonly used and absolutely vital for teachers to master. Edvectus also has a handy article on the required qualifications for teaching in different countries around the world. Finally, for anyone interested in pursuing a career in education in the UK, UCAS offers an indispensable guide on the different routes into teaching.