All too often, principals hire teachers who are masters of their subject matter, but who do not possess the skills needed to succeed in an educational environment. The result is frustration all around, as the teacher struggles to succeed and the students battle to learn. Whether you're thinking about becoming a teacher or considering hiring one, be aware that teachers must be very well-rounded individuals with strengths in a number of areas. How a teacher gets along with others, organizes her professional life and entices students to do their best are just as important as her ability to solve a differential equation or describe chemical reactions.
Good communication is the crux of good teaching. Teachers who have the ability to convey difficult material in a manner that is accessible to students with various learning styles will often find success in the classroom. However, the need for effective communication skills doesn't stop there. Teachers must maintain cordial and productive relationships with parents, administrators and colleagues, and having the ability to communicate capably even in times of stress is essential.
Excellent teachers have outstanding relationships with their students and other people they work with. Relational skills are related to communication skills, but building relationships is more than just good communication. Teachers can show students they care about their learning and lives by greeting students with a smile, asking them about their day and working with them to resolve difficulties they may be experiencing with academics, bullies or other school-related issues. This requires a good memory, as it is important to follow up with students after you have helped them to resolve a problem. Classroom management is another skill that is enhanced by the ability to relate well to students.
Teachers must keep up with an immense amount of paperwork. To do so, teachers must have superb organizational skills. For example, a teacher must set up an efficient filing system so that Individualized Education Plans, memos, assessments and other important papers can be easily located. Teachers must be organized in the manner in which they convey written material to students and parents, as well, advises professional educator Angelica White, in her publication "Organizational Skills for Educators and Students Alike." Communications to students should clearly outline the expectations for assignments, for example.
A teacher can have all of the noted skills, but without the ability to motivate students to learn, it is all for naught. The bottom line is that the student must be able to take the information presented by the teacher and apply it accurately and independently to problems -- thus demonstrating mastery of the content. Demonstration of these skills means that a teacher presents material that is at the correct level for the student, helps students to find value in the work and provides positive feedback. Teachers will also want to provide choices when appropriate and work to provide a learning environment in which students feel a sense of belonging.
Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.