Regardless of what certain people in the public may think, it takes a certain person to become an educator. One of my best friends always tries to make the case that anyone can be a teacher. He is in favor of homeschooling and his wife, a former teacher, homeschools their kids. It does work out well for their family, but I try to explain to him that not everyone can be a quality educator. He doesn’t see it this way so we just sort of rehash the same conversation over and over and will probably continue to do so until the day we die.
There are certain skills that are needed for a person to become a teacher. And the truth of the matter is that many people that go into education realize they do not have these skills and opt-out of teaching within the first few years. In fact, 44 percent of new teachers quit within the first five years of beginning their career in education.
What are the skills that are needed? You may get 20 different answers from 20 different teachers, but here are five commonly mentioned skills or traits that every teacher should possess if they plan on making it as an educator until they retire.
Patience is often something that needs to be developed over time. You may believe you have the patience to teach because you have one or two of your own children at home and have learned to take a deep breath and count to ten over the years. However, this is nothing compared to the patience you have to manage with a classroom full of 30 students and 60 parents emailing you about various grievances.
On the other hand, if you have too much patience and let the students run amok, then this is not a good thing either. It is all about walking that fine line and keeping everyone on task, but being relaxed enough if things don’t exactly go as planned.
You cannot teach something adequately if you don’t have the background knowledge needed on the subject. For first or second year teachers especially, they are probably learning things right along with the students. And if you don’t have the right knowledge on the topic, the students are going to recognize it pretty quickly. This means that you have to have a good general knowledge on a whole lot of different topics.
Teaching is not just about getting in front of a class and reciting facts and figures. In fact, educating the students sometimes is the easier job for a teacher. Keeping the students interested and paying attention is the toughest part of the job that any educator will come across. If you don’t have a personality that makes kids want to hang on your every word, then no matter how much information you have to share with the students, it may not be heard.
Too many people in this world tend to talk and seldom actually listen in return. It is like everyone is just waiting for someone else to quit speaking so they have another chance to say something themselves. As a teacher, you must be able to listen to the needs of your students. You will encounter many unique situations both in and out of the classroom. Being able to consider everything that is thrown at you is a tough skill to master for even the veteran teachers.
Have a Thick Skin
Teachers are often criticized by even the most uneducated of people. In this day and age of social media, it is even worse. It is quite common for upset parents and students to lash out at teachers on social media. Before you know it, you could have people calling for your head or creating stories about how you have done them wrong in the past. This is why you need to have a very thick skin nowadays to be strong enough to be a teacher. If you are insulted, you must have the ability to not let it bother you. This is easier said than done, but as the years go by, teachers often get much better at it.
To put it simply, to become a teacher, you basically must be a good person. With this said, we have all had teachers in the past where this didn’t seem to be the case. But to be a valued educator that makes a difference in this world, you really must care about your students and take their successes as your own. If you can remember that, then you have a good chance to stay in the field in the long run.
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