What Personal Qualities Are Important For Teachers of English?
Pablo Picasso once said: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”
Teaching is so much different from many other professions that it would be difficult to define it in its entirety in a few pages of text. A surgeon is skillful in what he does and even though he or she may explain the procedure to a patient, the patient is only interested in one thing and that is to know that everything will be alright after the surgery. The patient may have some understanding of what the surgeon will do, but will never be able to use or repeat the procedure except to remember what had taken place. An experienced motor mechanic may be capable of resolving issues with a vehicle requiring attention and even though may point out the particular issues to a customer will not instruct the customer how to go about repairing the vehicle in the future should problems arise. The only thing that matters to the customer is that the mechanic carrying out the repairs is good at what he does and will, therefore, put things right.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Gregory G. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
However, when it comes to teaching, it is fair to say that while most teachers want to be good teachers, they cannot be good unless they are prepared to impart their wisdom and knowledge to others.
What Makes a Good Teacher
- An ability to communicate effectively
- An ability to not only talk but to listen
- Possess an understanding and knowledge for their subject matter
- The ability to build positive relationships with students
- Be friendly and approachable
- Possess excellent preparation and organization skills
- Develop and maintain high expectations for all
One can be forgiven for thinking that the most important quality for a teacher to possess is knowledge since that's what the job is all about; but no matter how knowledgeable a person is, if they can't convey what they engagingly know to others, their knowledge in itself would be quite useless.
- If a teacher's speaking, writing, body language, and the organization of ideas into understandable structures are good, they can convey knowledge with better skill and results.
- A good teacher should be able to notice when even one student among many does not understand, and then take action to make an effort to communicate individually when necessary.
- Communication also involves explaining exactly what the assignments and expectations are. When students fully understand what is expected of them, it's much easier for them to deliver the required result.
In addition to being good communicators, good teachers should be excellent listeners. So in an ideal learning environment, teachers ask important questions and then listen to what learners have to say. When good teachers develop this patient's quality in themselves, they start to become great. Great teachers listen hard and then use what they hear to improve communication.
Understanding the Subject Matter
The best teachers are those that love their subjects and pass that passion and desire to learn more and I turn to pass on their knowledge to their students. When the teacher not only has the right answer to a student's question but can expand the discussion with examples and relevant facts, the lesson becomes enriched and students will be inspired.
Building Positive Relationships With Students
Good teachers are often the ones that care the most deeply, not only about their jobs but also about the students they teach. Caring about the students is what inspires teachers to reach out, do better, communicate more, ask, learn, refine, and improve.
Friendliness and Approachability
Teachers must be easy to talk to and when issues arise should be approachable without fear of reprisal. I will never forget my experience with a teacher in primary school where pupils were too afraid to ask the teacher for help as the teacher would often yell at them saying, ‘ haven’t you been listening to what I have been teaching?’ (Good example of excessive teacher talk time perhaps) …If the students think of their teacher as their enemy, they certainly won't learn much. The best teachers are the most open, welcoming, and easy to approach.
Preparation and Organization Skills
Great teachers spend countless hours outside of the classroom preparing, designing lessons, learning more (both about their subject matter specifically and how to teach, in general), participating in professional development, and thinking of fresh and interesting ways to teach the students.
The best teachers have excellent lesson plans and assignments that they continually improve. They structure their days, lessons, and units in a way that promotes maximal understanding and interest. Most important, they are available outside of class, and they grade papers quickly, writing personal notes to help their students understand while the lesson is still fresh in their minds.
High Expectations for All
Studies have shown (Educational Research Newsletter and Webinars) that teacher's expectations have a huge impact on student achievement. The best teachers have high expectations for all of their students. They expect a lot from each student, but those expectations are both challenging and realistic. This doesn't mean they hold all students to the same high standard, but instead that they know what each student is capable of individually and strive to help each one attain their personal best.
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Being a good communicator is probably one of the key attributes that a teacher needs to possess for effective classroom management and growth. There must be more to teaching than just a presenting material to students purely for the sake of seeing another week through. With an established two-way communication method in place, teachers should be able to measure student’s strengths and weaknesses and take appropriate steps to reinforce where necessary to achieve their one true purpose in life which is to teach.
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