It takes a lot to become a teacher. It takes even more to become a great teacher. Teaching in China, United States, or Japan will make little difference when it comes to the fundamental needs.
What would be the most essential skills of a great teacher? What are the skills that connect all great teachers all over the world?
1. Knowledge of the subject
The first thing any teacher needs is the proper skills in the subject they plan to teach. It is not just enough to know what they learned in school, they need to expand those skills.
Teacher with this level of familiarity with their subjects are highly enthusiastic. And it shows. This is what inspires students to become interested in learning.
2. Planning skills
Being organized is a useful trait. It shows commitment and the ability to think in advance. Teachers should not rely only on their experience. They need to plan accordingly for each new class and lesson. Lessons need to be prepared long in advance.
A teacher needs to know how to teach the same lesson to two different classes. Even if they are the same age, they will have different students in them.
3. Communication skills
Communicating knowledge and skills is the main job of a teacher. They need to explain the lesson to the class. The way they need to tell it has to be in a way that everyone will understand. This is where knowledge of the subject matter and planning comes in.
Communication has to be open so that the students are free to ask questions. Some of the best teachers we talked to say that students asking questions is the primary way for them to gain more knowledge. This is also a way for a teacher to see what their students are struggling with.
4. Love for teaching
It is difficult to talk for hours about something you are not interested in. This is especially noticeable when a teacher has lost interest in their subject. Or if they never had it in the first place.
Love for teaching comes from that interest. It becomes their passion, not just a job.
5. High expectations
This may sound counter intuitive, but it is very important for a great teacher to expect more from their students. Expectations should not be unrealistic. Just high enough for students to notice that someone sees their potential.
Some students may see demanding teachers as their antagonists. Often, it is not that simple. Some teachers can be very demanding, but not mean spirited about it. They can set high standards, but be kind and give their full attention to every student. This are the teachers students remember, the ones who challenged them to be better.
6. They are creative
Creativity comes in handy especially if teaching overseas. Teacher needs to be able to adapt to any situation they find themselves in. They might be asked unexpected question. Or a student might do something out of the ordinary.
7. Communication with parents
Parents are an important part of any teacher’s life. Much of the student’s progress is dependent on their parents. A great teacher is able to present everything that the student has done in a way parents will accept. As it can be an obstacle, if both parents and teachers are acting unreasonable.
8. They are skeptical of evaluations
Great teachers know that evaluations are just a part of the overall knowledge a student has. Teachers will be more interested in failed tests than successful ones. As it gives more insight into the possible problem.
9. Leadership skills
Being a teacher means that you will be in charge of a class. Teacher needs to be accepted as an authority figure. A bad teacher might do it through intimidation. Better way to do it is through charisma. Or by showing the class that they still know more.
10. Great colleague
Usually, in order to work in a school a teacher will not work alone. Even for the class they teach, they will not be the only teacher. Being friendly with colleagues will make the exchange of experiences easier. If someone is a great colleague, it will be easier for them to ask for help, or an advice.
Being a great teacher is not simple, but it can be done. Even for someone who lacks great organizational skills, or charisma. Will and love for teaching is more important.