Education What makes a great teacher
Teacher criteria: what makes a good teacher
"Lazy and overpaid!", "Teachers have too much free time", "Only bad students become teachers", "Teachers are only complaining": Hardly any professional group is burdened with as many negative prejudices as teachers. Almost all of Germany complains about the educational misery. So it is not surprising that educators in particular are given special attention. Parents demand the best possible support for their child - well-trained, highly competent teachers include this demand. But what is it that makes a good teacher? We list the most common prejudices.
"Confident demeanor, not afraid of conflicts, communicative skills", says Elsbeth Stern, learning researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, in the magazine "Brain & Spirit" as character traits that benefit a teacher in the exercise of his profession. But there is no such thing as an "ideal teacher personality". Rather, pedagogical skills are something that must be learned.
This also applies today in a European comparison. At the EU level, the ministers of education exchange ideas about what makes a good teacher and what a corresponding training should look like.
With enthusiasm and conviction
An essential quality of a successful teacher is to make the meaning of the learning material clear to his students. Students need to understand that what they are learning here is really important. This requires a high degree of self-motivation from the teacher, enthusiasm for the topics that you want to bring closer to the children, and the corresponding specialist knowledge. Because: "A good teacher makes believable that he himself stands behind the content of the course. Therefore, teachers should not be at war with their subject," says Elsbeth Stern. This already applies to basic areas such as reading, writing and arithmetic in elementary school. A good educator can make it clear how important these skills are - but also how much fun they can be.
Flexibility is required from teachers
Stern mentions flexibility as another essential skill of a teacher. Again and again teachers are forced to adapt to new conditions. The school staff, the employees, but also the technical equipment of a school change regularly. Above all, however, a teacher has to be flexible enough to constantly adapt to different students. No student is like the other and the call for individual support for children is growing. For the teacher it is a matter of recognizing individual learning deficits as well as certain strengths of the students and addressing them as far as possible. Routine and prejudices, through which some children are comfortably pigeon-holed, are therefore poison in dealing with the students. "Anyone who only works according to 'Scheme F' teaches bypassing the needs of children and young people," says Stern.
Addressing the needs of individual students ultimately also has a positive effect on the relationship between teacher and student - and the importance of the quality of this relationship has been proven by several studies in recent years. For example, studies by psychologist Victor Battistich of the University of Missouri at St. Louis found that children who experience personal support in their school have far more positive attitudes and more enjoyment of learning than others. These children also show significantly greater interest and initiative in school matters.
Teachers have to be resilient
As Uwe Schaarschmidt, psychologist from the University of Potsdam, also explains in "Brain and Mind", almost all relevant analyzes on the subject show that teachers, contrary to all prejudices, work more than other employees. To do this, they are mostly forced to give up a piece of their private life, because teachers often take work home with them and, for example, correct classwork in the evening or on the weekend - an enormous burden in the long run. For many it is too big: According to the large "Postdam Teacher Study", which was carried out from 1999 to 2006 and for which around 16,000 teachers and 2,500 student teachers and trainee teachers were surveyed, only 17 percent of teachers in Germany cope with the requirements for health-promoting Wise. Almost 60 percent even show serious problems such as burn-out syndrome.
In order to be able to maintain a high level in the exercise of the job, teachers therefore need emotional resilience, self-confidence and strong assertiveness. With new students and classes as well as new regulations, teaching content and developments, the requirements for teachers change regularly. In order to keep pace and counteract the additional burdens that this creates, it is urgently necessary for educators to question themselves and ultimately to continue their education. The "Potsdam Teacher Study" showed that the extent to which a teacher is overburdened is closely related to his or her competence. Teachers affected by burnout "often report difficulties in communicating, especially with pupils and parents, and they point out technical and didactic deficiencies more often than other teachers," says Schaarschmidt.
What makes work difficult for the teacher
Parents rightly demand high quality from their teachers. But teachers often have to struggle with working conditions that make life difficult for them. Here are five additional difficulties teachers face:
- In addition to conveying teaching content, teachers also have to cope with educational tasks. A requirement that a single teacher can hardly meet in view of the large school classes. Smaller classes and more school psychologists, social pedagogues and social workers could relieve the teachers.
- Constant reforms and minor changes in the education system make continuous work almost impossible for teachers. Allowing yourself more time and reflection for some innovations would also reduce the pressure on the teachers.
- In order to relieve the teachers' free time, there is an urgent need for more teaching-free phases as well as work and retreat rooms for teachers in the school. Most teachers do not have a personal job there.
- The training of teachers lags behind the findings of research: specialist knowledge and pedagogy are still taught separately at universities. How the future teacher connects these two areas is ultimately up to him. It would therefore be important that the student teachers can also acquire special pedagogical knowledge for each subject.
- In Germany, after the fourth grade - and therefore very early - children are assigned to different types of school. There is little time left for the teachers in the primary schools to address the individual needs of the children and to get to know the students with all their strengths and weaknesses.
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