Top 5 skills and qualities of a teacher - How leadership can help professional development

The qualities of a good teacher

While teaching is a vocational profession that only some in our society decide to pursue, we’ve all been students at some point in our lives. Each of us has memories of school, particularly teachers – the good ones and the not-so-good ones. We often remember those who may have influenced not only our academic progression, but our lifestyle and future career choices; those we’ve learned from the most and those who helped us overcome obstacles and ultimately built us into the adults we are today. 

So what made some of our teachers so memorable? What qualities did they have to make such an impression on us? And what made them stand out?

School leaders, wanting to give pupils the same positive educational experience they treasure, should take time to ask themselves these questions and think of those qualities when helping teachers develop.

Qualities school leaders should look for in a teacher

While school leaders can rely on defined and conventional practices in assessing teachers’ academic qualifications and skills, schools must also concentrate on detecting and encouraging the right personality traits that make a good teacher. A lot of emphasis is often placed on teacher achievement in terms of educational content knowledge, assessment expertise, and classroom management.

However, attention should also be placed on significant individual values that must accompany these important pedagogical practices, because these personal attributes contribute to pupils’ holistic development.

We can all agree that a person who’s able to show empathy is a good candidate for teaching.

1. A good teacher is one who can empathise

Why is that important?

Empathy is perhaps the most essential quality any teacher should have. It is to be found in the ability to understand each pupil’s needs and personal circumstances and then put these into the context of everyday interactions and tasks. It is displayed in the aptitude towards showing a genuine interest in what students say, or express. It shows in the willingness to help and support. 

teacher quality: empathy

To empathise means to be putting oneself in the other’s shoes, to comprehend the other’s situation by looking at it from their point of view. A teacher, or any adult, may find it challenging to see the world through a child or teenager’s eyes, yet this is what educators should always aim to do. 

The empathetic approach is proven to be successful. Research into teaching practices shows how empathy by teachers leads to positive behavioural changes in students.

A study conducted by Stanford University in the US and published in the university’s news journal, compared punitive practices with empathetic responses in schools and found that the latter reduced by half the percentage of pupils having disciplinary problems. 

The researchers also examined whether an empathic mindset created better relationships between teachers and students. As part of the study, an exercise was given to teachers to review articles and stories that described how negative feelings could lead students to misbehave in school and emphasised the importance of understanding students and maintaining positive relationships with them even when they misbehave. 

The findings revealed that students whose teachers completed the empathic mindset exercise were half as likely to need disciplinary interventions over the school year, from 9.6% to 4.8%.

In recognising the essential role that empathy plays, teachers must look to put this into practice by exercising and nurturing all the daily activities that lead to being empathetic: listening, communicating, adapting, being approachable and involved. 

First of all, to be empathetic, you must be able to listen.

2. A good teacher is one who can listen

Listening must be at the basis of all communications and relationships. The type of listening teachers want to adopt must go far beyond a simple auditory exercise. Educators should aim to pay attention to all concerns, preoccupations and praises that each pupil expresses. 

teacher skill: listening

The scope should be to perceive not only the facts that are being told, but how these are being related, the use of language and tone of each student as an individual.

If careful listening becomes part of teacher-student communications, more in-depth insights are to be gained about the student; this adds immense value to the relationship.

3. A good teacher is one who can communicate effectively

If teachers are able to listen attentively to their pupils’ needs, then they will have a good understanding of how to communicate to them effectively. They will be able to determine which points to stress in conversations and lessons, how to word the most difficult concepts and how to get their pupils interested in certain subjects. 

Good communication also depends on frequency. The more frequently teachers converse with students and parents, the smoother the relationships becomes over time. 

Sharing of information with parents is fundamental for pupils’ development.

Parents should always be kept up to date with their child’s school performance, and in return, teachers can gain an understanding of the child’s background and living context.

Parents are able to be a part of and support their child’s learning journey as they have access to reports, assessments, test results and feedback. They can help out with homework and manage their children’s time by organising their school tasks and assignments.

Digital technology is an essential asset for building relationships across the entire school community between teachers, parents and children. 

Schools can benefit from Bromcom’s Communication tools and the parents’ platform MyChildAtSchool to build on their relationships with families.

Parents can access the tool simply by connecting to the internet and via a web browser or downloading its companion App (available on Android or iOS).

The tool visualises and tracks real-time data, records of attendance, behaviour, assessment, letters, feedback, and other important documents, so that parents stay always informed and are able to contact teachers as frequently as needed. 

4. A good teacher is adaptable

Teachers must be able to adapt to different environments. They must be able to respond to different individuals and ensure that everyone will feel safe, comfortable, and happy. When a child feels like they are included and understood by their teacher it means the environment provides the conditions for optimal learning.  

teacher, headteacher skills

For teachers to bring a sense of humour to the class, it can mean making the experience more personable and enjoyable for pupils. It can also help portray a more approachable image and humanise the whole learning process. 

Of course, this is not to say that teachers should not take lessons seriously or should respond with a joke to every question, but when used sensibly, humour can be an efficient remedy, or at least, smoothen out a lot of difficulties. 

5. A good teacher is one who keeps on learning 

Leadership teams, including headteachers and deputy headteachers, must commit to the purpose of helping teachers continually improve the quality of their teaching.

Continued professional development or CPD in schools provides educators opportunities to stay up to date with the industry developments. 

Teaching methods must continually develop in view of new scientific discoveries, for instance; or new techniques emerging in art and design, which need to be included within the curriculum and organised through lesson plans.  Training and courses must be available to teachers to acquire new knowledge.

As the Department for Education (DFE) defines it: 

Effective professional development for teachers is a core part of securing effective teaching. It cannot exist in isolation, rather it requires a pervasive culture of scholarship with a shared commitment for teachers to support one another to develop so that pupils benefit from the highest quality teaching. The thousands of professional decisions that must be made every day need to be informed by the best evidence, knowledge and professional wisdom.

Although it must be recognised that for leadership teams to help teachers improve their practice takes thought, planning and effort. 

Thanks to the growth of technology used for school management, education leaders can efficiently strategise and track continued professional development in a variety of ways and against different benchmarks. 

How does Bromcom MIS help with Continued Professional Development?

Bromcom offers a CPD tool (Performance Management) designed for schools to create and record their staff members’ objectives, and links those objectives to the standards set out by Ofsted. 

Through the same tool, school leaders can track review or appraisal meetings and keep any notes or important documentation that is created. Any CPD event or course that staff members participate in can also be added to the system, and used as evidence of progress against objectives.

Teachers will have their own performance management area to view and measure their progress against objectives and easily see how they are developing. 

teachers, headteachers and deputy headteachers

So, once school leaders have their workforce in place, how can they assess some of the key aspects of their staff’s performance?

School leaders’ can access Bromcom’s Vision to gain top-level insight of their schools’ performance

Quality of Education is measurable by assessing the school’s performance achievement. 

Bromcom offers a wide range of analytic tools to help school leadership teams visualise the quality education their schools provide. 

For instance, Bromcom Vision-X is a tool tailored for school leaders in MATs and Local Authorities who need a more comprehensive view of insights and processes, as they are responsible for multiple schools and academies.

The solution is able to gather data from other systems implemented within each school, enabling central teams to identify successes and failures, providing proactive measures based on a more in-depth understanding of all their schools’ data.

James Howell, Director of ICT for the Academy Transormation Trust has said:

“Vision-X was quick and easy to install using the Bromcom SIMs connector and within 30 minutes of installing the first connector we had data showing in Vision-X dashboards. We installed Vision-X across our 22 academies within 1 day. It has given us the ability to dive quickly into the data from each academy as and when required, rather than waiting for academies to respond to emails or phone calls. Our Regional Education Directors have been using Vision-X to complete reports for the trust board and to support individual academies with their improvement strategy. I’m really impressed with the support we have received to date and cannot wait for the further updates to dashboards and reports.”

Having a good grasp of the school’s overall performance helps leaders identify strengths and weaknesses in teachers, so that they can better direct staff into training and further development.

At Bromcom, we understand that demands for school improvement and developments are constantly changing; therefore, we are committed to always innovating our solution to meet any new challenge and create new opportunities for growth.

All our products have been developed on the solid base of an ongoing collaboration with schools that we’ve built and maintained over the last thirty years, to find out more why not get in touch?

16 February 2021 / Liza Adebisi