If you interview enough teachers, you’ll notice that some are clearly better than others. But what makes some teachers a successful hire? And why are other teachers consistently underperforming? Is it even possible for a teacher to be good at every aspect of teaching? These are questions you should ask when trying to strengthen your staff.
It is a well-known fact that effective teachers are critical to the development and success of students. If their educational foundation is not right from the word go, they are already set up for failure and course correction will be too little too late in many cases. When hiring, it is important to look for ideal candidates and identify the real strengths that teachers should have and then focus on developing those through personal development and in-career training.
In this article, we explore 5 key areas that a teacher should excel in before you decide to hire them. If you are a teacher reading this, see which of these skills you have nailed and which you should spend some time on developing.
– Strong communication skills
Communication is key in all aspects of our lives, but even more so when it comes to the teaching profession. Strong communication skills are an absolute must for an effective teacher, and it is not just about being able to stand in front of a class and deliver lessons with confidence, but to ensure that students understand the content and feel confident in applying their minds. Communication stretches further than just the classroom. How a teacher interacts with parents and other members of the community matters. A Teacher’s social media communication is also an extension of their digital communication skills and digital citizenship.
– The ability to listen
A good teacher’s communication skills do not end after they are done talking. Listening goes hand-in-hand with its verbal counterpart. Weak people only listen long enough to formulate a response. Teachers who listen well pay attention to detail and can pick up what isn’t said by a learner but they pick up on subtleties such as anxiety. Teachers can then help struggling learners build confidence and equip them with the tools that they need to succeed. When a teacher asks for clarification during an interview on certain questions and does not just instantly respond to difficult questions, you can infer that they are ‘good listeners’.
As much as each teacher is responsible for their own subject and they have an individual responsibility to their respective classes, working in education also means that you are never just a one-man show. Effective teachers have to be able to work in a group, keep an open mind and of course, learn from their colleagues. Every teacher has their own teaching style and specific methods, but there is always space to learn from each other and grow. A simple way of testing this during an interview is to ask the candidate to share a time where they assisted another staff member with a challenge they faced. Listen for instances where they assisted staff members who were on the same or lower level of the leadership hierarchy. This is a good indication of the candidate’s willingness to help or whether it is just an eagerness to suck up.
Effective teachers need to be able to work in a constantly evolving environment and adjust their teaching methods based on the age of their students, the resources available and the ever-changing curriculum, practices and requirements. Asking a candidate what book they enjoy reading or what podcasts they listen to will give you an indication of whether the teacher is remaining up to speed with changes in education. Also, ask the candidate what ‘new’ education trend excites them and how they plan to blend that into their teaching.
No matter the grade or level that you are teaching, patience is something that will be tested every single day in the classroom. Every student is different with various levels of abilities when it comes to the execution of tasks and different tasks in the classroom. The biggest tester of all when it comes to patience is of course interacting with difficult parents…
The willingness for teachers to always better themselves is a key quality, whether learning more about a subject area, learning new methods of communication or even exploring how to bring innovation into the classroom, expanding your own knowledge and building on your strengths will often give learners the head start they need and a teacher always leads by example!