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Top 10 Traits of a Secondary Education Teacher
It takes a special kind of teacher to educate and motivate students in middle school or high school. All age groups have their challenges, of course, but teenagers can offer some rather unique and difficult issues to navigate through. Here are ten traits that a great teacher should have:
One way to fuel passion for your work is to continue your training and education. Not only will this keep you on top of current trends and new modes of thinking in your field, but it will also help you to maintain a fresh outlook and reconnect with the initial excitement you felt about your job as an educator.
Know What you Teach
Secondary teachers often focus on more specialized subjects than elementary school teachers. Math teachers must be able to teach trigonometry or calculus as effectively as algebra, and history teachers must be able to cover very specific periods of time while framing up the context of changing societal behavior. Likewise, special education teachers need to have a solid understanding of their students' behavioral and learning disabilities, with targeted techniques on how best to help them.
It is therefore especially important for middle school and high school teachers to excel in the subject matter and curriculum they will be teaching, while continuing their own education, such as earning a Master’s in Secondary Education, to be compliant with current standards.
Relate it to Real Life
When you teach teenagers, you will often hear them say, "When am I ever going to use this in real life?" The best way to engage older students in what you are teaching is to demonstrate relevance. If you can relate it to real life and show that there is actual value to what you are teaching, you will eliminate many of the battles teachers face in motivating their students.
Have Clear Objectives
Students, particularly teenagers, perform best when they understand what is expected of them. As a secondary education teacher it is especially important to always maintain clear objectives, both in your lessons plans, and in your expectations of your students.
Use Effective Discipline
Disciplining adolescents requires a different approach than disciplining elementary school children and maintaining control of the classroom is vital for an effective secondary school teacher. New ideas on discipline and learning styles are constantly being developed and taught, so many teachers will find continuing education to be an effective refresher and a way to keep up on current industry standards.
Connect with the Students
The best secondary school teachers are the ones who are able to connect with their students. When you achieve this, you have the opportunity to not only teach them, but also to inspire them and make a lasting impact on their lives.
Early and elementary education teachers frequently hear about the importance of consistency when dealing with young children. With teenagers, being consistent is equally important. Adolescents tend to perform best when they have a consistent set of expectations to meet.
It might seem like consistency and flexibility are two opposing qualities. If you are consistent in your expectations, what room does that leave for flexibility? But don't forget, you are dealing with teenagers, who can often be unpredictable. Knowing when to be flexible and when to be firm is an important skill for any successful secondary school teacher. Being flexible is necessary since nothing, no matter how carefully the plans has thought through, is going to work as is written down on paper.
Communicate with Parents
As a teacher, you have many responsibilities to your students, the school, and parents. We’ve already talked about how to be the best teacher to your students, but don’t forget that part of being an effective teacher is also communicating effectively with their parents. Ensuring that teens get a good education often requires a solid partnership between the teacher and the students’ parents, with open lines of communication so that problems can be quickly dealt with (and achievements are properly recognized).
A positive outlook is one of the most important traits a secondary teacher can have. As mentioned earlier, you will have good days and bad days, and being able to shake off the bad days and move on is imperative if you are going to continue to feel passionate about the work you do.
Across the Nation, tight state and local budgets are making the teaching job market more competitive than ever before. A specialized master’s degree and certification in secondary education can help you stand apart from other educators when pursuing opportunities to teach or when seeking leadership roles in middle schools and high schools.