For anyone considering a future career in teaching, there are two questions to consider above all others. The first is “Am I qualified?”, because without the proper qualifications to do a job, you’re unlikely to even be asked to an interview. The second question, which is less straightforward, is “Am I right for this job, and is it right for me?”. This is an important consideration when looking to become a teacher, because it’s a job that will make a lot of demands for you. You’ll need to be ready to meet those demands, and knowing what type of person makes a good teacher will help you get an idea of whether it’s for you.
So let’s run through some of the essential qualities that go into making a good teacher…
You can communicate clearly
There is a difference between being able to understand a subject or topic, and being able to help someone else understand it. The world, and certainly the field of education, is full of complicated concepts, and the best teachers are often the ones who can make those concepts accessible to pupils who have not encountered them before. Can you understand Einstein’s Theory of Relativity? Good for you. Can you explain it in such a way that a classroom of high school kids then also understand it? Good for them.
You can listen as well as you communicate
A teacher’s job is not just to transmit information; they need to confirm that it has been received and understood, and to fill in the gaps that are more or less inevitable at an early stage. Class discussions and analyses of a topic are a chance for pupils to both ask questions and explain their understanding, and a good teacher will pick up on uncertainties during this time. Teachers who are part of the Teach for America program often encounter pupils who clearly “get” a subject, but aren’t confident in talking about it – and the job of a teacher here is to encourage students and build confidence.
You can show empathy and patience
If there is one mistake adults constantly make with children, it is assuming that a child has an easier life with fewer worries than we do. It’s all the more stunning that we make this mistake, given that the one experience we all have in common is that we have all been children at one time or another. Children are trying to learn, frequently in a very broad range of subjects, while they negotiate the tricky terrain of childhood, to adolescence and eventually young adulthood. Hormones mean they are almost literally a different person from one year to the next. So they might struggle and get frustrated in class; a teacher’s job is to understand that and help them without disrupting everyone else.
You never consider your own education complete
Education is not an athletic competition, where you cross a finish line and you’re done. It is something that is ongoing, and when you qualify as a teacher you will still be learning. If you’re teaching the same class in the same way in 2041 as you were in 2021, then you’ll have gone wrong somewhere. Education moves with the times, and updating your own knowledge will help you deliver relevant and interesting lessons to multiple generations. Also, if you’re not keeping your own knowledge up to date, you’ll struggle with pupils’ questions.
Not everyone is cut out to be a teacher
I know that I certainly wasn’t, and when people hear that I would make a terrible teacher, but homeschool my kids, their first thought is that I should probably not be doing that. They’d be right if they thought that I teach every subject to my kids, but I don’t. Our homeschooling family has me in more of a counselor position, than a teacher. It’s my job to help them find the education that they need, and that includes finding teachers for them, but not necessarily sitting down and instructing them in every subject.
I commend teachers and acknowledge the fact that they are a essential job in our society. It isn’t an easy job, and most certainly one of love and passion for education that most people just don’t have. Those of you that do – Thank you.