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Attributes of an Effective Teacher, Part 1: What You Need To Be

By Matthew Lynch — July 25, 2016 3 min read
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Are you called to be a teacher? Taking some time to look over the important qualities that a teacher should possess and thinking about how much you exemplify those qualities can help you figure out whether or not teaching is for you. In this blog, I will discuss the attributes that you must possess in order to be an effective teacher. Without further ado, here they are:

Enthusiastic

Enthusiasm is arguably the single most important attribute. Teachers must be enthusiastic about what they are teaching. If you appear bored to the students, that boredom will ripple through the classroom. When researching his book Making the Most of College, Richard Light interviewed large numbers of college students, asking them questions regarding their education, their inspirations, and their drive to study and continue learning. Light reported that, regardless of their social or cultural background, race, or discipline, the most common aspiration among students was that the class they were taking would help them progress: it would stretch them and change them in some way. As a teacher, your challenge is to inspire students and help them achieve these aspirations.

Positive Attitude

It’s very important for teachers to be optimistic and to foster a positive attitude within themselves and their students. The French philosopher Voltaire said, “the most courageous decision one makes each day is the decision to be in a good mood.” Our educational system does not need teachers who are always looking at the glass as being half empty.

What it needs is role models with positive attitudes, who view obstacles as opportunities, not harbingers of doom and despair. To display a positive attitude, listen to what you say to others and to your tone of voice. You should be displaying care, concern, and respect. And when the going gets tough, people with positive attitudes rise to the occasion and work on solving the problem, not making it worse with pessimism.

A Good Group Leader

As a teacher, you’re expected to be in control of the group, showing total confidence in your position. Good group management skills are crucial to successful learning in a classroom, which is full of social networks, peer pressure, competition, emotional complications, and varying degrees of confidence. Children and teenagers need the freedom to make their own decisions, to follow their own interests and paths, and to develop their own personalities, but they also need limits. Good group management allows space for all of these elements, creating a safe, stable, and stimulating environment. Teachers should be aware of the disciplinary standards of their school and apply them fairly and consistently.

Ethical

Teachers should be wholeheartedly committed to their codes of ethics. The school may provide a code of ethics, but it’s important for you to develop your own personal code of ethics and to hold yourself accountable for adhering to your chosen standards. You should be able to reflect this commitment in your day-to-day teaching. Ethical educators are expected to treat every student with the same respect, commitment, and engagement, embracing the opportunity to be practical models of virtue, to actively engage in the growth and learning of each individual student, and to be unlimited by external factors such as class and race.

Passionate

The teacher’s role is to use their passion for their subject, their belief in the system, and their commitment as tools for their main purpose, which is to transmit their knowledge, to educate, and to play an active role in the learning process for all their students. Teachers should be passionate about being more than just a cog in a well-oiled machine; they should be driven to taking responsibility for their own development to ensure that their students may progress in the most effective way.

Here, we discuss what a good teacher needs to be. Check out my next blog, “Attributes of an Effective Teacher, Part 2: What You Need To Know” to see how your knowledge base measures up.

The opinions expressed in Education Futures: Emerging Trends in K-12 are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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