As a school owner, I want to provide our students with the best service possible and to do so, we need professionals who are well-suited to enabling us to achieve this goal. However, finding a good English teacher is not a simple task.
The most important characteristic of a good teacher, for me, is a sense of commitment to the student learning process. A committed teacher will care about the students, about whether they are really learning and making any progress or not. He/She will not just go through the motion, come to work from 9 to 5, and cover a unit in a book just for the sake of doing it. After having met so many teachers, I learnt that when we have a teacher who is truly committed, he/she will do whatever necessary to make the learning process happen. And this is important!
Other important characteristics I look for when hiring teachers are:
Qualifications can show that you really want to be a teacher because you have spent time obtaining it, and that you are investing in your career. However, qualifications are not the be all and end all. In my 20 years as a school owner, I have met teachers who are not so qualified but are effective and great in the classroom, and I have also met teachers who are qualified but are not as effective.
A good teacher chooses to be a teacher and sees it as a career.
Just because you speak English, and can’t figure out what you want to do with your life, does not mean that you should become an English teacher. I’ve interviewed many candidates who are surprisingly not able to convince me that they have made a conscious choice to be a teacher.
To be a good teacher, you definitely need to be a good learner.
You need to be curious about the students and want to learn more about them.
You need to be curious about language and want to know how best to teach it.
You need to be curious about development and seek opportunities to keep growing as a teacher.
Sometimes, I meet a person who has been working as a teacher for, let’s say 15 years, and the last time that person has applied for a development course was 15 years ago. Alarm bells ring when I hear of such things.
A teacher needs to perceive, understand and react to the learning needs of the students. We should try and understand what works for our students and the reasons behind it. We teach human beings who have emotions, problems, and lives that exist outside the classroom. We shouldn’t just treat them as students.
Being professional includes: Being respectful towards the school, his/her colleagues and the students; being punctual; being prepared for the class; being appropriately dressed for class.
Understand that your student is first of all a human being, and like any human being, they can feel tired, angry, or hungry, or they might be suffering from a headache. Maybe the wonderful class you have planned on that very tough grammar point may not be suitable for that particular day and you may need a plan B. It is important to realize that sometimes, the way you are used to working may not be the best way for a particular situation/student/course. So learn to adapt.
Challenges could be a good thing. It takes courage to face them with a positive attitude and to leave your comfort zone behind.
Although we can’t force students to learn and can’t ensure that learning takes place in every lesson we teach, having the ability to create a conducive environment for that learning to happen can be part of being an effective teacher.
- Taking pride.
Good teachers see themselves as a very important part of society and act accordingly. A good teacher adds value to the students, the school, their peers and to themselves. Be proud of it!
And finally, the most important of all, not only for teachers but for anyone who wants to live a meaningful life:
Having a passion for what you do is crucial.
Passion spurs us on to make things meaningful.
Without passion, teaching or any other vocation would be nothing but a bore.
With passion, we believe in what we do.
And, a teacher with passion can make all the difference.