Qualities of an Effective Teacher
Think back to when you were in school. Who was your favorite teacher? Who was the teacher you dreaded having? Almost everyone will instantly be able to answer these two questions. We’ve all had terrific teachers and, unfortunately, most of us have had teachers that were not effective. So what qualities does an effective teacher have that an ineffective teacher does not? The answer is that it takes a perfect blend of several qualities to create a truly effective teacher who can have a lasting impact on virtually every student. In this article, we examine ten qualities that virtually every effective teacher will possess.
- An effective teacher loves to teach. The single most important quality that every teacher should possess is a love and passion for teaching young people. Unfortunately, there are teachers who do not love what they do. This single factor can destroy a teacher’s effectiveness quicker than anything else. Teachers who do not enjoy their job cannot possibly be effective day in and day out. There are too many discouraging factors associated with teaching that is difficult enough on a teacher who absolutely loves what they do, much less on one who doesn’t have the drive, passion, or enthusiasm for it. On top of that, kids are smarter than what we give them credit for. They will spot a fake sooner than anyone and thus destroy any credibility that the teacher may have.
- An effective teacher demonstrates a caring attitude. Even teachers who love their job can struggle in this area, not because they don’t care, but because they get caught up so much in the day to day routine of teaching that they can forget that their students have lives outside of school. Taking the time to get to know a student on a personal level takes a lot of time and dedication. There is also a line that no teacher wants to cross where their relationship becomes too personal. Elite teachers know how to balance this without crossing that line and once a student believes the teacher truly cares for them, then there is no limit to what that student can achieve.
- An effective teacher can relate to his or her students. The best teachers work hard to figure out how to relate to each of their students. Common interest can be hard to find, but exceptional teachers will find a way to connect with their students even if they have to fake it. For instance, you may have a student who is a Lego fanatic. You can relate to that student if you do something as simple as ordering a Lego catalog and then going through it and discussing it with that student. Even if you have no actual interest in Lego’s, the student will think you do and thus naturally create a connection.
- An effective teacher is willing to think outside the box. There is no one set cookie cutter way to teach. A cookie cutter approach would likely be boring for both teachers and students. What makes teaching so exciting is that kids learn differently, and we have to find and utilize different strategies and differentiated learning to reach every student. What works for one student, will not work for every student. Teachers have to be willing to be creative and adaptive in their lessons, thinking outside the box on a continual basis. If you try to teach every concept in the same manner, there will be students who miss out on key factors because they aren’t wired to learn that way.
- An effective teacher is an excellent communicator. To be the best possible teacher you must be an effective communicator. However, in this area you are not just limited to being a skilled communicator to your students although that is a must. You must also be a strong communicator with parents of your students as well as your faculty/staff team within in your building. If you have a difficulty communicating with any of these three groups, then you limit your overall effectiveness as a teacher.
- An effective teacher is proactive rather than reactive. This can be one of most difficult aspects for a teacher to conquer. Intense planning and organization can ultimately make your job all the more less difficult. Teachers who plan ahead, looking for aspects that they might have issues with, and proactively looking for solutions to solve those problems will have less stress on them, than those teachers who wait until a problem arises and then tries to address it. Being proactive does not replace being adaptive. No matter how well you plan, there will be surprises. However, being proactive can cut down on these surprises tremendously, thus making you more effective overall.
- An effective teacher strives to be better. A teacher who has grown complacent in what they do is the most ineffective kind of teacher. Any teacher who is not looking for new and better teaching strategies isn’t being an effective teacher. No matter how long you have taught, you should always want to grow as a teacher. Every year there is new research, new technology, and new educational tools that could make you a better teacher. Seek out professional development opportunities and try to apply something new to your class every year.
- An effective teacher uses a variety of media in their lessons. Like it or not we are in the 21st century, and this generation of students was born in the digital age. These students have been bombarded by technological advances unlike any other generation. They have embraced it, and if we as teachers do not, then we are falling behind. This is not to say that we should eliminate textbooks and worksheets completely, but effective teachers are not afraid to implement other forms of media within their lessons.
- An effective teacher challenges their students. The most effective teachers, are often the ones that many students think are the most difficult. This is because they challenge their students and push them harder than the average teacher does. These are the teachers who are often students’ least favorite teachers at the time, but then later on in life they are the ones that we all remember and want to thank, because of how well they prepared us for life after our time with them. Being an effective teacher does not mean you are easy. It means that you challenge every one of your students and maximize your time with them so that they learn more than they ever thought they could learn.
- An effective teacher understands the content that they teach and knows how to explain that content in a manner that their students understand. There are teachers who do not know the content well enough to effectively teach it. There are teachers who are truly experts on the content, but struggle to effectively explain it to their students. The highly effective teacher both understands the content and explains it on level. This can be a difficult skill to accomplish, but the teachers who can, maximize their effectiveness as a teacher.