No word of a lie, there are thousands of things a teacher should know. We expect them to be experts in the field. We require them to reach and stretch our children more than parents can. Such a tall order is what you embrace when you decide to become a teacher. With that in mind, let’s look at some personal skills that are helpful for every teacher to know.
- Responding to Emergencies—How would you manage your students in case of an emergency such as fire? What is your exit plan? Your administration will have thought of large-scale plans, but what would you do as a teacher?
- Knowing student disabilities, health issues, and allergies—Even if you can’t remember everything about them, you need to know your students’ weaknesses. Not only will you know what to do in an emergency, but it allows you to plan and make accommodations for optimal learning and progress for all.
- Being organized—Get rid of bulky file cabinets and the endless search for lost papers. Paperwork such as lesson planning and record-keeping can be stored online. Even if you still need to keep hard copies, your file cabinet will be smaller in the end. Old student paperwork needs to be passed back to the kids. If you want to keep some things for display, just scan them in and store them so that you have access to them.
- Professional development—You owe it to yourself to constantly improve your craft of teaching. Take a class every school year (at least one) that goes toward recertification. The best investment you can make is in yourself. It pays itself off in terms of added skills and continued certification.
- Recalling personal details—Strive to know the name, birthday, and favourite food of your secretary/custodian/tech support guru. It will never cease to amaze you how important the little things are to people. These folks are sometimes overlooked and overworked. Nevertheless, when you’re in a bind, these are the people that can come to your rescue. The same applies to all names, neighbourhoods, learning styles, interests/passions, and religions of your students.
- Idea borrowing—Sure, give credit where it’s due. We all should know the fine line between plagiarism and legitimate practices. Teaching styles, techniques, and projects are all fair game. Take the best from the best, make them your tools, and own them.
- Practicing discipline—Every teacher should read Ross Greene’s Lost at School. Contrary to what everyone says, the way that just about every school handles discipline is wrong. Deciding where you stand on this issue of ‘kids do well if they can’ vs. ‘kids do well if they want to’ will determine whether or not you’ll reach those difficult kids falling through the cracks.