The 5 Biggest Skills Modern Teachers Need


(John Perkins)

Many schools only have basic requirements for hiring a teacher. Generally, they are expected to have their teaching certificate, a degree, and pass a background check. This may, indeed, qualify a person to become a teacher, but not necessarily the most effective teacher they could potentially be. The best modern teachers – the ones who consistently show the most learning gains among their students – are the ones who go beyond their degree and develop some other very important skills.

Some of these skills can be learned in a classroom, while others must be developed through personal experience. For some, these skills come naturally. For others, it may take months or even years to really obtain a high proficiency. Either way, these are important components of a teacher’s arsenal.


Teachers must be patient and direct – flexible in their ideas but confident in their decisions. When a teacher has to deal with students, parents, and administrators, they must be delicate and firm at the same time. How would you suggest to the principal that the current situation in the classroom is getting out of control? How do you work with parents to help them understand that their child is more than just “not being challenged” and may have some other problems? Teachers are diplomats, and that means they have to walk some fine lines.


A good teacher is a mentor and a guide. It’s not enough to just tell students to do something. You need to show by example that it is worth knowing – that there is something good at the end of this educational journey. Teachers must encourage the students to reach for something more, and communicate clearly what the final benefits will be.


Are you able to stick closely to a schedule but change directions on the fly if the situation calls for it? Do you always have a backup plan when something doesn’t work right? The ability to organize and prepare for a variety of unforeseen circumstances is critical to effective teaching. Studies have shown that more preparation equals higher achieving students, and the ability to organize can lead to a more effective learning environment.

Life Saving Skills

Whether it’s mandated or not, these kinds of life-saving skills are essential for a teacher

Ability to Learn

As a teacher, the learning process should never stop. The time you spent earning your degree should have taught you how to learn, and this is a skill you can’t afford to lose. Every year you could discover new ways to teach, new information to impart, gain a better understanding of your students and child development – anything that could make you a better teacher.

Most of these skills won’t be part of your degree, but they are just as important as many of the others you’ve learned along the way. Whether you’re smoothing out relations with demanding parents or performing life-saving actions on a student, these are the skills that can separate a great teacher from the rest.


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