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Attributes of a Professional Teacher

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Every teacher wants to be a good teacher, but what is this myth about being a ‘good teacher? Who is it? What are the characteristics of a good teacher? And how can you become a good teacher?

Teaching jobs are often worthwhile and satisfying for people who love to teach. I am a teacher (tutor) too, though I do not think myself as a very good teacher, but I know one thing that majority of my students (tutees) do love me, and I guess this is the point where good things start to happen.

I was thinking about what are the characteristics of a good teacher and how can I become a good teacher or which characteristics and qualities should a good teacher possess?

I know that all teachers want their students to like them, but being liked isn’t the be-all and end-all really, is it? I mean teachers have to make some unpopular decisions sometimes.

Teachers can be popular just because they are friendly and helpful, but to be truly professional and effective they need other qualities. Students may not be able to put their finger on just why one teacher is more effective than another but we need to be able to identify the skills and behavior we require in a true professional.

I believe if a teacher possesses the following characteristics and qualities, he/she can become a professional teacher with a lot of fan base too.

1. Personality, Values and Attitude

A good teacher has a very good personality; there is no second thought about it. Students always get attracted to teachers with good personality and characteristics which leads to better communication, understanding and ultimately good results. Everyone can have a good, decent, likable and presentable personality. Just dress sensibly good, smell good, and be a little gentle and kind. That’s all. Teachers are models of values. Whether conscious of them or not, values are exhibited implicitly and explicitly. Values connote standards, code of ethics and strong belief.

Open-mindedness is basic in promoting respect and trust between teachers and students. Students are encouraged to consider one another’s findings and explanations. Free exchanges of suggestions develop a respectful attitude among them.

Fairness and impartiality in treating students eliminate discrimination. Teachers must be unbiased and objective in judging their work and performance. Fairness inculcates self-confidence and trust among students.

Sincerity and honesty are values exhibited in words and actions. Teachers interact with students every minute. Their mannerisms, habits and speech are watched and at times imitated. Teachers must show their real self. Sincerity dictates that they stick to the truth, to the extent of accepting what they do not know about the lesson.

Professionalism is highly treasured in the teaching profession. Teachers are adjudged professional if they are knowledgeable, skilled and value-laden. They catch students’ attention and keep them focused on the topic, to soothe their feelings away from tension and to develop a sense of humor among themselves.

2. Confidence

A professional teacher needs to be confident without being arrogant. Nobody can expect to have all the answers, so if a student asks a real stinker, the professional teacher should be able to admit defeat but offer to find out more for the student. And they must carry that promise out.

3. Passion

Being passionate about his/her subject and work makes an ordinary teacher a professional teacher. Passion often makes the difference between teaching and equipping people for life. The love for the subject and for her work is infectious, filling the students with similar passion and enthusiasm. Passion for teaching is a compelling force that emerges from teachers’ love for children. Passionate teachers exude spontaneity in ministering to the needs of the students especially those experiencing learning difficulties. It is a passion for teaching that drives them to care for their students corrected with appropriate reformative action.

4. A Good Communicator

One of the very important characteristics of a professional teacher is his communication skills. He should be a very good speaker. This characteristic will benefit a teacher in several ways. For example: i) If his communication skills are good, he can convey his lectures with better skill and results. ii) If a teacher is a good speaker, his class strength increases automatically. People love to hear a person who he can speak well enough. There is always a shortage of good speakers in the world 😉

Teacher shares with others in a manner that encourages effective two-way communication. He communicates personal thoughts and feelings on a wide spectrum of issues and can listen to students in an empathetic manner, assuring each that conversations will be held in confidence.

5. A Good Listener

Apart from being a good communicator, a professional teacher should also have the characteristic of being an even better listener. As there is Turkish proverb: “If speaking is silver; then listening is gold.”

Remember, a good listener will always have many friends and fans. Because people do not want to hear every time, they need persons who can listen to them as well. And when a good teacher develops this patient quality in himself, he starts to become a great teacher.

6. Good sense of humor

A professional teacher should also have the quality and characteristic of having a good sense of humor. It is a logical fact, that a person generally teaches the next generation and as they are younger than the teacher, they are expected to have more fun in the class too. So, a good teacher is the one who can cope up with his sense of humor, and with his strong communication skills and personality, can also maintain the discipline of the class. Students look forward to a class which is managed by a teacher who is serious but has a sense of humor. A professional teacher knows how to take the tension out of tight situations. He uses humor, spontaneously, in a tasteful manner. He builds togetherness in the classroom, through the use of humor.

7. Skilled-leader and Knowledgeable

A professional teacher is a skilled leader. Different from administrative leaders, effective teachers focus on shared decision-making and teamwork, as well as on community building. This professional teacher conveys this sense of leadership to students by providing opportunities for each of them to assume leadership roles. A professional teacher possesses a control of the knowledge base of teaching and learning and use of his knowledge to guide the science and art of his/her teaching practice. Professional teacher is in a constant quest for knowledge. Keeps up in his or her specialty areas, and has the insight to integrate new knowledge. Takes knowledge and translates it to students in a way which is comprehensible to them, yet retains its originality.

In conclusion, it takes more to be a teacher than just being an expert in your area of specialization. While teaching is a gift that seems to come quite naturally for some, others have to work overtime to achieve great teacher status. Yet the payoff is enormous — for both teachers and students. Imagine students thinking of you as teacher when they remember that great teacher they had in preschool, elementary, high school and college. A teacher who would go beyond the call of duty to teach children to perform to their best potential while instilling in them values of good living is not only a good teacher, but a great human being who gives to the world a great generation with an excellent future.

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