Effective Teacher: Professional Skills & Abilities Video
How to Be a Professional Teacher
You can join the teaching profession by completing the required training and certification, but becoming a professional teacher means something more than that. Being a professional means conducting yourself according to the highest standards, giving your best effort inside and outside the classroom, and building relationships based on mutual respect. So, if you aspire to become a teacher, aim to be a good one; and if you want to be a good teacher, make sure to act like a professional.
Looking and Acting Like a True Professional
Project a neat and clean look with your clothes and styling.You may have more flexibility in your attire than previous generations of teachers—a male teacher may not be expected to wear a jacket and tie, for instance. No matter the dress code (or lack thereof) at your school, though, focus on maintaining a professional look. Come to work looking the part of a teacher, not trying to dress like your students.
- Your clothing doesn’t have to be stuffy and buttoned-up, but aim for modest, clean, wrinkle- and damage-free clothes.
- You might pair a skirt or slacks with a blouse or sweater, for instance, or wear slacks and a collared shirt with either a sweater or a jacket and perhaps a tie.
- When it comes to personal grooming, try not to look like you just rolled out of bed or like you’re heading out to a club.
Behave professionally in public.Students and the community at large will see you as a teacher even when you’re not working, so make sure you represent your school and profession well in your daily life. Be someone who others can respect no matter the situation.
- To name an extreme example, getting into drunken brawls on your free time will cause community members to lose respect not only for you, but perhaps also for the profession at large.
- Don’t bad-mouth the school or gossip about school employees or students.
Maintain professionalism on social media.Social media can be a great way for you to connect with students, parents, and colleagues, but it can also be a gateway to unprofessional or even inappropriate behavior. You should keep your personal and professional social media profiles separate, and keep stringent privacy settings for each.
Prepare thoroughly for each day of teaching.Check your planner the evening before and get ready for the following day. Professional teachers plan thoroughly for every lesson and class. Then, they stick to their work program and assessment schedule.
- This ensures that syllabus content is covered, and also the necessary skills for their students' longer-term success in their specific subject or learning area.
- A professional teacher’s workday doesn’t end with the school bell at the end of the day, and it always starts before the morning bell the next day.
Come to work on time every day.A professional teacher understands the need to start the day well, every day. The first impression you make each morning sets the tone for the rest of the day.
- Arrive early enough that you have time to get all your papers and lesson plans in order, and so you can get yourself mentally prepared to start the day right.
Don’t miss deadlines or fall behind on your grading.Professionals keep their work up to date and plan ahead. If you’re always pushing deadlines back or making promises you can’t keep, you’ll lose respect in the eyes of your students and peers.
- When it comes to grading, a 3-day rule of thumb is a good starting point for shorter assignments and non-essay tests. For longer assignments, stick to a 2-week turnaround. If you take too long to hand back tests and so on, the students may lose interest in the task and their results by the time you return their work.
Embrace change and give new methods a chance.Don’t be a doomsayer and throw cold water on new ideas or suggestions for positive change. Instead of vocalizing negative thoughts like "That will never work at this school," respectfully note any concerns you may have but show your willingness to try out something different.
- Don’t immediately discount suggestions or new ideas from students as well. Let them know that their opinions and perspectives are valued.
Be passionate, positive, and enthusiastic about your work.Never act like it’s a chore to be in the classroom, even if it feels that way from time to time. Instead, project positivity and enthusiasm for your students.
- If you need a positivity boost yourself, take some time each morning or between classes to remind yourself why you got into teaching and what you get out of it.
- Retain this positive enthusiasm beyond the classroom as well. For instance, a professional teacher will not create negativity in a staff room or engage in mindless gossip.
Attend professional development courses to gain new skills.Professional teachers are constantly learning and sharing what they know. Learn about the latest pedagogical theories and practices, as well as the tools of the trade. Be open to trying new ideas to help your students learn and thrive.
Running a Classroom Like a Pro
Take charge of your classroom.Respect your students, and demand the same respect from them. Clearly lay out your rules for classroom behavior, and enforce them consistently. Don’t shout or lose your cool—remain calm and collected, and be clear on what needs to happen. When necessary, involve the school administration for serious discipline issues.
- Your job isn’t to be your students’ friend or the most-liked teacher. You are a mentor who is there to impart knowledge and model professional behavior.
Put safety first.Remember that, as a professional teacher, you are offering a service to the students and the school community. You are duty-bound to take your "in loco parentis" role seriously. Explain why certain rules are in place and follow all institutional risk management procedures.
- Whether you’re teaching a gym class or in the chemistry lab, clearly lay out the safety rules and hold everyone to them at all times. Don’t waver in a misguided attempt to appear more likeable or “cool.”
Make excellence your goal.Constantly provide benchmarks for improvement for your students. Give praise when it is due, and compassionate yet constructive feedback when it’s needed. Encourage and support those who are in need of help, and find creative ways to assist them to improve their grades.
- Create an environment in which everyone (including you) is expected to do their best, is praised when they do so, and is supported when they fall short of excellence.
Take pride in the process and products of your teaching.Make sure your lessons, notes, and handouts are professionally presented—that is, neat, clear, easy-to-follow, and without simple errors or typos. Take a moment to consider how you’d grade your own efforts—if they’d be anything other than passing with flying colors, increase your effort.
- A professional teacher should never feel like they ought to re-do a piece of work because its presentation is shoddy.
Take responsibility for your student's results.In the end, it’s up to your students to put in the work and effort to get their best grades. As a professional teacher, though, you should accept that the grades your students achieve are, at least in part, a reflection on you. Accept that there is room for improvement on both sides—the students’ and yours.
- Don’t just throw up your hands and say that a student’s poor grades are because they’re lazy or don’t care about the material. Take it as a personal challenge to find ways to engage them in the subject.
Simplify your lessons to focus on the key components.Good teachers make it easy to understand complicated things. Use examples, models, pictures, hands-on activities, real-life connections, and so on. Find ways for your students to relate to the material.
- However, “simple” doesn’t mean “too easy” or “created without care.” Whittling down complex topics into simpler lessons is a challenge that takes time and effort to master.
- Pick the brains of fellow teachers who you respect for their ability to bring focus and simplicity to their teaching.
Keep your students’ attention through enthusiasm and self-awareness.You shouldn’t expect your students to be excited about learning something if you don’t seem excited to be teaching it. Let your passion shine through in the classroom, and some of it will rub off on your students.
- With this enthusiasm, explain to your students why the knowledge you convey is important, and how they can apply what they learn in their daily lives. Then they are more likely to remember what you teach.
Connecting with Students, Parents, and Colleagues
Inspire others’ trust right from the start.Create a good first impression from day one of the academic year. Be prepared, enthusiastic, and serious about success.
- Be someone who students, parents, colleagues, and administrators can believe in.
- If you’ve made a poor impression on someone for some reason, work hard to change it.
Treat your students with respect.Never publicly humiliate or belittle your students. Do not discuss their results or grades in front of others. Don't personalise issues with students.
- Never yell at your students or shame them in front of their peers. Instead, encourage them to take part in setting your classroom norms, which include respect for all.
- Leave their family, background, religion, behavior, and personal circumstances out of public disciplinary processes and discussions.
Model respectful behavior for your students.Your students can learn a lot about what you expect from them by watching you. Always show a respectful attitude toward students, fellow staff members, your school, your subject, and yourself. They will pick up on your respectful attitude, making it easy to gain their respect.
- Use a calm, respectful tone when addressing students and staff.
- If you teach multiple classes, don't complain about one class to another. Your students talk to each other, so students in the other class will find out.
Take an interest in every child.The better you get to know your students, the more influence you will have on their attitude towards learning, and on their lives in general. Don’t play favorites or deem anyone beyond helping—your job as a professional is to teach everyone in the class.
- Make sure you don’t forget about the students in the middle—that is, the ones who don’t wow you with their successes or frustrate you with their lack of interest.
- Remember that your job is to connect with each student as a mentor, though. You don’t need to, and shouldn’t try to, become their friend.
Maintain confidentiality.A professional teacher will use students' personal information to help them achieve their potential. Confidential information will not be disclosed as gossip, or used as a weapon against a student. Likewise, non-classroom information, like the content of staff meetings, should be treated in the strictest of confidence.
- You could end up in legal trouble or lose your teaching license for disclosing confidential information.
- However, also make sure you know when you are mandated by law to disclose confidential information. For instance, if you are told or suspect that a child is being abused, you may be legally required to report this to the authorities.
Consult parents and welcome their involvement.Include parents in the educational process and encourage their support of the school's disciplinary processes and procedures. Be polite and calm when dealing with parents. Remind them that every discussion about the child needs to be undertaken with the child's best interests at heart.
- You can’t force parents to get involved in their child’s education, but you can be as welcoming as possible. At the same time, be patient with parents who are perhaps too involved, and try to nudge them in the right direction.
QuestionHow do I build trust with my colleagues when starting out as a teacher?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerTrust is earned by your actions. Prove yourself to be someone who is reliable, compassionate, and enthusiastic about your job.Thanks!
QuestionCan you tell me your definition of a professional teacher, what makes a teacher professional, and the requirements to become a professional?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerThe requirements and qualifications for becoming a teacher can vary widely according to where you live. However, no matter where you are, a teacher who is a true professional--that is, who acts in a professional manner--respects the job and their students and gives their best effort at all times.Thanks!
QuestionIs the staff room a place for teachers to relax and talk openly? Does it need to be formal and professional?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerThe staff room is a good place for relaxing and sharing, but try to maintain professionalism even in this setting. It's not a place for inappropriate behavior or gossiping about students, for instance.Thanks!
QuestionWhat are some attributes to being a good teacher?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerBe a good listener, provide valuable yet challenging ideals to your students letting them think as an adult but act as a child, doing so will allow them to follow your every lead and will take you as an example next to their parents. Be original and trustworthy with your students and most important of all, don't teach them about life based upon your experiences, but inform them of what they will face and let them choose for themselves. That doesn't mean you can't tell them stories of your experiences but it does mean you need to emphasize that that is your experience only and that they will surely have their own.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is the appeal of the teaching profession?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe teaching profession is the building block for all other professions. A teacher must pay attention when building the self esteem of each and every student, while transfering the knowledge and experience to the students.Thanks!
QuestionWhat should I do if I want to become a teacher?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAfter graduating from high school, enroll in a university or college to seek a teaching degree.Thanks!
QuestionWhat does it mean to be a professional teacher?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerA professional gets paid to do his/her job and does it well. A professional teacher has a teaching certification and is proficient at communicating knowledge.Thanks!
What are the characteristics of a professional teacher?
While a teacher is taking a class, then another teacher enters into the class room without any permission, is this unprofessional?
Can I become a professional teacher if I have an Educare N6 qualification?
How do I discipline so that my students respect me?
What is the proper attitude I should have as a professional teacher?
- As a teacher, and a professional, you are likely to be judged by your words and actions. At all times, in your interactions with children, parents, and members of the public, practice self-restraint, self-control, and assertiveness in declaring that all you do is in the best interests of the children in your care.
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