Following an input all about what it means to be a professional, I have chosen 5 virtues (among many) that I feel are important to teaching.
I feel that respect is a crucial characteristic of a teacher. It applies to all relationships, from those with each child in your class and their families, to colleagues and individuals within the wider society which you may come into contact with. It may be a cliché but I believe that “respect is a two way street”. This means that if you wish to be respected by the pupils in your class, you must treat the pupils with respect. I feel that this can be achieved by taking a holistic view of each child, being mindful of their situation outside of school as well as within the classroom.
I feel that kindness is linked with many other attributes such as empathy, compassion and conscience. As with respect, kindness supports the relationships that are built between the you and your pupils. A kind teacher must have the children’s best interests at heart and should be willing to to help others wherever possible.
In my experience, pupils quickly lose respect for teachers who they deem to be ‘unfair’. This relates to a sense of justice that is within us all. Every child must be treated as an individual with their own opinions, beliefs and needs which are of equal importance to everyone else. It is also important that behaviour management and consequences are clear and always followed through. If any preferential treatment is shown then some children may decide that their is no point in trying.
A teacher must be able to understand that everyone learns in different ways and at different speeds. It may be frustrating when teaching a subject that you find to be interesting, or a lesson that has taken a lot of careful planning, to then find that the children aren’t focussed and the lesson isn’t working. Despite this, a teacher must be able to continue, or use their reflective skills and flexibility to re-think the lesson. Another example of a situation where patience is importance is when dealing with behaviour issues. A teacher who gets angry or even gives up on a child is unlikely to see positive results, whereas a teacher who is patient and strives to use positive methods of working with children will find that their job is more enjoyable and far more satisfying.
I feel that honesty is linked with respect. If others view you as an honest individual, they are likely to listen to and respect what you have to say. When working with children, there may be times when the you do not know the answer. In situations like this, I feel that being honest and using the situation as an opportunity to research or conduct an experiment is positive and helpful to learning whereas a dishonest approach may lead to confusion or mistakes.
When communicating with parents and families, I believe that is is important to be honest about any issues or areas of weakness. This will allow you to work together to approach these issues and is far more effective than trying to handle them within the school alone. It may not always be easy to be honest, particularly when delivering undesirable news, but ultimately it is our responsibility and avoiding issues may lead to greater problems later on.
All these virtues will allow a teacher to be a good role model to their pupils. They also contribute to creating a class culture where everyone is safe, valued and included. As well as the above virtues, I maintain that a teacher must have continually high, yet realistic expectations of their pupils, pushing them to achieve their potential. They must also be passionate about their job and committed to providing the highest quality learning and experiences to their pupils.