Another List – Teacher Traits

I had fun writing last week’s list but I didn’t think that I’d make a habit of it.  But then someone posed this question yesterday to a group of educators I’m a part of: “What traits make up a good teacher?” If this doesn’t lend itself to another list, I don’t know what does.  The group started crafting a list of traits for a teacher that we’d want to hire.  Here are some highlights:

  1. Skilled at using assessments
  2. Able to masterfully differentiate student learning
  3. Adept at creating an inviting class environment
  4. Focused on getting better (growth mindset)
  5. Able to establish a quality relationship with students
  6. Self reflective
  7. An excellent communicator (speaking, writing, listening)
  8. A risk taker – willing to fail
  9. A team player (collaborative)
  10. Hard working
  11. Organized
  12. Compassionate and empathetic

There seemed to be a bit of variety on this positive list, but when the opposite question was posed, “What traits would you not want to see in a teacher?” there was a very clear theme that arose.  Here’s what we put together:

  1. An isolationist
  2. Someone unwilling to adapt
  3. A know-it-all
  4. Someone who thinks that they are the best and are not open to anyone else’s ideas
  5. Someone unwilling to take ownership for mistakes (places blame on students, others, or the situation)

All of these negative characteristics indicate someone not willing to grow or even acknowledge their need for growth.  It’s almost as if a willingness desire to grow and get better at one’s craft trumps all other positive characteristics.  For example, it would be okay to have a teacher that isn’t “skilled at using assessments” or “adept at creating an inviting class environment” as long as this teacher was able to acknowledge these weaknesses and work hard to get better.

I try to impress this mindset on my students. Here’s what I tell them: “I’d much rather have you risk and fail, but be willing to self reflect and seek to get better than have you do a decent job and assume that you’ve arrived and you have nothing more to learn.”

We want our students to keep growing and learning.  We’ve got to do the same.

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