5 Crucial Skills Every Teacher Needs

Running a classroom takes much more than just a degree. While teachers learn quite a bit about how to create a lesson plan and how to organize a classroom in school, there are certain other skills that are only learned on the job. Subject matter competency is important, of course, but these are the skills that help to make sure students will actually be able to hear the lessons taught in the classroom. Below are five crucial skills that every teacher needs, five skills that make the difference between excelling in the classroom and merely surviving until the end of the semester.

1- Adaptability

No lesson plan fully survives a day at school. Would-be teachers are always trained to create outstanding lessons plans that will give students everything they need, but the truth is that these plans are little more than rough outlines for what will really occur in a classroom. Good teachers know that they must adjust their lesson plans for the real world, so having the ability to improvise on one’s feet is a necessity. It’s important that teachers are able to teach the class they have rather than the classes for which they have planned. The importance of adaptability simply cannot be overstated.

2- Empathy

Empathy is very much a learned trait. While teachers must always keep a certain distance from their students to ensure a proper educational environment, great teachers always work to be as empathetic as the setting will allow. Teachers will always have students who need a bit of extra care and it is important to remember that every student is a real person who deals with his or her own struggles on a daily basis. The best teachers are able to meet students where they are and provide guidance alongside a stellar education. If a teacher can’t be empathetic, he or she cannot connect with his or her students. Without that connection, true learning cannot occur.

3- Patience

Things will constantly go wrong in a classroom. If it’s not the lesson plan, it’s the technology. If everything under the teacher’s control is functional, the students will certainly go out of their way to change that situation. Teachers who don’t invest a great deal of time in learning how to become more patient will absolutely find themselves looking for new jobs quickly. Teaching is a frustrating job that weeds out the unprepared quickly, so those who really want to go the distance need to learn how to stop, take a deep breath, and prepare themselves for what comes next.

4- Active Listening

While students might often think of the teacher as the person who spends most of the time talking, the truth is that great teachers are excellent active listeners. While this skill is useful in almost every career, teachers have a particular need for active listening when interacting with students. Those who fail to listen to a student in his or her time of need will end up losing that student forever, so good teachers will always listening appropriately. Don’t just be a brick wall – listen, respond, and offer aid whenever it is appropriate.

5- Laughing at One’s Self

If you’ve never thought of a sense of humor as a skill, you’ve never stepped in front of a class full of students. A good teacher knows that things can and will go wrong in the classroom from time to time and that the only refuge is to not take things too seriously. That’s not to say that the classroom isn’t a place that should be taken lightly, of course, but rather to remind incoming teachers that some events truly are too absurd to ignore. If a teacher cannot laugh at himself or herself, he or she will absolutely burn out.

Above all else, teachers must continually refine the skills listed above. While they may not be discussed in continuing education classes, these are the skills by which teachers are ultimately judged at the end of their careers. Taking the time to excel in these areas may not make every student become a scholar, but they will help classrooms to function more smoothly and ultimately help teachers to be better deal with the stress that comes from running a classroom.

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