Nowadays, social relationships are seen to be very important. Private life, work, family: the importance of social bonds has become crucial and the world of education is no exception. Moreover, it is commonly said that the relationship between teachers and students is more important than the teachers’ knowledge of the subject. But is it really the case?
Certainly not: it is far more complex than that. Indeed, the teaching profession does not only include these two elements and asking which point is the more important is like asking about what comes first between the chicken and the egg. In fact, it would be more interesting to highlight the important qualities and requirements which a teacher should have to be a competent professional and to be able to surf on the wave of the educational world.
- Firstly, it is essential to master the taught subject. For this, it is essential to have studied and to have obtained a solid education. A teacher should know what he is talking about and feel at ease in his subject(s).
- Secondly, it is important to establish a good relationship with the students. The teachers’ social skills are not to be underestimated. Everyone remembers having discovered or loved a subject because he or she had a good relationship with the teacher and enjoyed their time in the classroom.
- Thirdly, a good teacher should have good didactic competences. Knowing a grammar rule or how to solve an equation is one thing, knowing how to explain it is another. Therefore, it is essential to have the capacity to transmit a subject.
- Fourthly, it is important to be spontaneous and to have the ability to bounce back. All teachers know it: there is a world of difference between preparing and giving a lesson. Students can understand quickly or slowly, they can be concentrating or inattentive, they can be diligent or impertinent. A teacher has to be aware of this in order to adapt the lesson in real time. Moreover, a teacher should know how to answer every kind of question.
- Fifthly, a teacher should be capable of questioning himself. Doubting is the key word. As Descartes said: “To seek truth, it is necessary to doubt.”
- Sixthly, a teacher should be able to evolve and to continue to learn new things. Education does not stop with the end of studying. In fact, a teacher keeps up learning by teaching and he can benefit from continuing education to improve his professional skills.
- Seventhly, as a school is a social and hierarchical system, a teacher should know how to evolve in such a structure. This involves the relationship with his peers and with his superiors. Indeed, a bad relationship with his superior could create a lot of issues.
- Eighthly, teaching is a performative trade. Since a teacher is exposed in front of a class to deliver his knowledge, it is important that he knows how to act in front of a large group of people. A teacher should know how to perform his lesson: rhetoric is thus a key element of teaching.
- Ninthly, a teacher should love what he does, and he should want to do it and to be in his class with his students (of course, this is true for every profession, but it is often forgotten by people who just want to become teachers to have a good salary and a lot of holidays).
- Tenthly it is important for a teacher to be curious and to like searching for information and knowledge (both in books and on the internet) to prepare his lessons.
- Eleventhly, a teacher has a specific time schedule. Unlike a lot of other professionals, a teacher alternates between lessons, preparation time and correction time and has to plan a big part of his work time. In fact, a teacher may have a day (or maybe two) each week not being at school but at home, where he has to prepare his lessons or correct exams. Moreover, a teacher can go through intensive periods of stress and always has to plan the next lessons or chapter to do with the students. This constant looking at the future has to be taken into consideration.
In conclusion, this list is both non-exhaustive and non-hierarchical. There is not one point that is more important that another: every skill and requirement is important and constitutes an ideal ground to be a good teacher. Furthermore, it is not possible to learn and know everything before starting to work. As for every profession, competences in teaching come with experience. As with everything, practice makes perfect.