Steve Jobs once said that his goal in life was to “put a ding in the universe.” While most people won’t have the chance to transform global communication like Steve Jobs did with the iPhone, there are plenty of careers where you can make a difference. One of those careers is teaching. While the global community will never know the names of most teachers, the students they impact will remember them forever. If you want to change the world for the better and are considering a career in teaching, do a quick self-assessment to see how you measure up on these five essential skills.
It may seem obvious to say that teachers must be knowledgeable about the subject matter, but the very best teachers take it far beyond that. They’re always curious, always learning, and always on top of what’s going on in the world. And then they use that knowledge to make the subject matter relevant to their students’ lives.
Teachers need both physical and emotional stamina. Not only do they need to be able to spend hours on their feet giving presentations that are lively enough to keep students from falling asleep, they also need the mental and emotional toughness to deal with a classroom full of kids who all have their own problems and who may or may not want to be there.
Kids aren’t just little adults. They won’t always understand the cost-benefit relationship of studying hard. Sometimes, they get bored and stare out the window. They blame the dog for eating their homework. Teachers have to have enough patience to remain positive while teaching a room full of kids who may be neither capable nor motivated.
Albert Einstein once said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. That is especially true for teachers. They can’t just keep presenting information the same way over and over if some students aren’t getting it. They have to be able to change course and try something different. They need a plan B…and plans C, D, E, and F. There is no single way that students learn, so there can be no one way for teachers to teach. They have to constantly adapt their methods to their students.
In today’s culturally diverse society, teachers can’t expect that everyone will think like they do or raise their kids with the same values they have. Some students will have been raised to think that they need to work hard for anything they get; other students may have been raised to expect things to be given to them. Some families put schoolwork front and spend a lot of time and energy making sure their kids do well; some couldn’t care less. Students will have different backgrounds, different languages, different cultural backgrounds, and different religious beliefs. Today’s teachers have to be careful not to assume that their way is the only way and to show respect to all of their students and their cultural differences.
Teaching can be a very rewarding career, but it’s not for everyone. How do you measure up on these five essential skills teachers need?
image: flickr via Ilmicrofono Oggiono, 2014