It’s only February, but we’ve got springtime on the brain—and so does an army of portfolio-toting teachers who are looking for new opportunities and “teacherless” classrooms. If you’re wondering what to expect during your interview or what qualities principals are looking for in an effective teacher, you’re in luck: We’ve boiled down five qualities that real-life principals listed as their "must-haves" when hiring effective teachers at all levels.
5 qualities of an effective teacher—according to those who hired them
- Passion. Surprised? Probably not. "Passion" or "enthusiasm" is repeated over and over by those who understand what it takes to really be successful in this profession. Depending on where you teach, and what level/subject is your forte, you might come in contact with hundreds of students a day and thousands over the course of a career. You can’t fake passion—and if you don’t have passion for your students and your subject matter, you’re going to have a tough time convincing administrators that you have what it takes to be an effective teacher.
- Je ne se quoi. Teachers have to possess that "special something”—or as the French say, "I don't know what." We all know it when we meet people who have it. It's a little extra heart spark that burns inside them and draws people to them. That "special something" helps teachers relate with a diverse student population at a non-verbal level and lets students know they are valued, understood, and seen as individuals with their own unique needs. Teachers who have that je ne se quoi are beloved by their students, regardless of whether or not their students love the subject matter.
- A Plan. There is a good chance your interview will include a question like, "So, describe what we'll encounter when we walk in during the middle of a class period?" or "What is your classroom management plan?" The answer to these questions indicates whether a teacher is organized, has time management skills, has experience and/or is intuitive to the needs of the students. The most effective teachers know that plans change at a moment’s notice, but still—an overarching purpose is always better than a foundation shaped like a big question mark.
- Loves to learn. The best students have an innate curiosity that can't be squelched. Likewise, the most effective teachers share this trait. An effective teacher never stops learning. Whether it’s the simple things, like what works and what doesn't, or the hard things, like what the heck is quantum physics all about anyway? Teachers who are excited about learning will have a much better time inspiring the same excitement in their students. Plus, administration can rest assured the teacher will keep abreast of the rapidly changing technological realm.
- A sense of humor. If you don't have a good sense of humor, we wish you the best of luck and hope you can find one. There are hard days ahead; if you don’t learn to laugh at the struggles and yourself, it isn’t going to take long for you to burn out. Miserable teachers are never effective—they’re also the easiest targets for “challenging” students.
There are very few careers that allow us the opportunity to touch lives on a daily basis. Teaching is definitely one of them. So make sure your "Teaching Bag o' Tricks" is loaded with the five qualities listed above and you will have a great shot at becoming an effective teacher.