Teaching skills are often overlooked by teachers.
We can sometimes undervalue ourselves as a consequence. Teaching skills make us highly valuable. You just have to look and find the positives. We look at just a few teaching skills and how we use them in the classroom.
By the very nature of teaching English, you interact with many people of different nationalities and cultural backgrounds. That’s half the fun of it. If you work outside your home country you will interact with many different people outside work too. This takes an amazing amount of understanding, patience and cultural awareness. You learn about how people behave, what people want. You learn how to speak to people to get what you want.
One always thinks about the relationships that teachers and students build. So often teachers also have excellent working relationships with co-teachers, and local and foreign support staff. I’ve worked in offices of at least five different nationalities. That’s not even leaving the staff room. Sure, there can be friction, but ninety percent of the time everybody gets on. That takes great interpersonal skill.
Teaching English isn’t all social skills development. It’s one aspect of it. I make presentations to 125 people on a daily basis. I have to speak concisely and clearly, in a way that allows a wide range of people to understand what I am saying. I have to make presentations about complex topics. I have to field some difficult questions. Of course I’m talking about students, and the complex topics could be anything like compound nouns or some ridiculous tense that hardly anybody understands what it’s for. But these are all transferable, useful skills.
Teachers have to be able to plan to a very high standard. From the very beginning of a CELTA you are expected to lesson plan. You plan your time. You plan activities. You plan different tasks to manage the mood of your learners (as discussed in excitement management). We also strategical plan the longer view, whether its weekly planning, monthly or planning over the course of a term of a semester. Whatever the time range, teachers are expected to be excellent planners.
Teachers subconsciously make responses everyday. Most notably we make responses with our feedback with students. We notice and sometimes highlight errors. We develop follow up tasks to consolidate earlier efforts of our students.
In a more formal way, teachers are responsive to students needs at the beginning of a course or period of study. Teachers will do a needs analysis and we are able to develop strategies to engage students on weaknesses found.