What does the successful teacher do differently?
“I feel an endless need to learn, to improve, to evolve – not only to please the coach and the fans – but also to feel satisfied with myself”
– Christiano Ronaldo
I know this looks like a long list and it is!
Becoming a great teacher doesn’t happen overnight. It is the combination of experience, passion and self-reflection that makes a successful teacher.
Use the following guide as a checklist. You might be surprised at how well you are already doing!
A great teacher:
1. Has clear objectives. They know what they are doing and how they are going to do it.
2. Displays a strong sense of purpose. They know why they are doing what they are doing.
3. Understands that they may not get immediate feedback. Teaching is not the kind of job where you get feedback immediately. It could be years before you see the fruits of your labour, and for some students you may never see them!
4. Knows when to listen to students and when to ignore them. They know what is useful feedback from their students and when they must take the helm and make the decisions because they are the teacher and can see the bigger picture.
5. Has a positive attitude that breeds creativity.
6. Expects success. They set the bar high and create an environment where mistakes are expected and accepted. They ensure that students are motivated to keep trying until they succeed.
7. Has a sense of humour. They understand that humour reduces stress and frustration. The favourite teacher is often the funny teacher.
8. Gives authentic praise.
9. Takes risks. They model risk taking and show how to deal with ‘failure.’
10. Is consistent. They do what you say, don’t change rules mid-game or based on their mood and students can rely on them when necessary.
11. Is reflective. They take time to reflect on their teaching methods, mode of delivery and their connections with students.
12. Seeks out mentors. They look for different perspectives, advice, wisdom and encouragement.
13. Communicates with parents. Partnership with parents is crucial for student success.
14. Enjoys their work. They find effective ways to keep their enthusiasm and passion.
15. Adapts to student need. They change up the plan according to the student cohort, the time of day or the weather if you have to.
Teaching is not about the teacher but about the learner.
16. Welcomes change. Change ignites the brain with excitement and adventure. Refuse to be the boring teacher!
17. Takes time to explore new tools. They learn about technology that can make learning more fun, engaging and accessible.
18. Provides emotional support for students. Students need mentors as much as they need teachers.
19. Is comfortable with the unknown.
20. Is not threatened by parent advocacy.
21. Makes learning fun. They understand that for learning to be retained it must be linked to emotion.
22. Teaches holistically. Remember the goal is to teach students not algebra or reading.
23. Never stops learning. They know that they don’t know everything, that they are not the ‘font of all knowledge’ and that they can learn from their students.
24. Breaks out of the box. ‘Oh I could never do that!’
25. Is a master of their subject. They stay curious and interested.
Learning to be a great teacher is a journey, a path of growing and evolving. Enjoy the ride!