10 Must-Have Teaching Skills for Educators

Written by Sarah Harris
Published on February 26, 2023 · Updated on April 1, 2023

10 Must-Have Teaching Skills for Educators

Written by Sarah Harris
Published on February 26, 2023 · Updated on April 1, 2023

One of the great perks of becoming a teacher is the opportunity it affords you to affect the lives of young people in a positive way. In fact, the average school teacher has a chance to provide knowledge, wisdom, self-confidence, and support to over 3,000 students throughout their careers.

Earning a teaching degree from a great school can provide you with much of the knowledge you need to be an effective educator, but knowledge is not all that is required. There are certain teaching skills that are essential for any educator who is looking to make a positive impact on their students.

Essential Skills for Teachers

The following are the 10 most important skills that the best teachers exemplify.

1.    Adaptability

Just about every teacher is going to have to switch grades, subjects, or schools at some point in their career, and to do that effectively, adaptability must be one of your most refined teaching skills.

Even when great changes aren’t thrust upon you, there are always students who require you to rethink your approach in order to effectively reach them where they are at. So, developing an ability to acclimate to change swiftly serves you well as a teacher.

2. Empathy

In your career, you are seen as the main contact for students who come from all walks of life. At times, your students may be faced with difficult circumstances that can profoundly affect their behavior and their ability to learn.

Sometimes, you have to put your daily struggles aside to help those in the four walls of your classroom. If you can’t bring a certain level of caring and compassion with you to work every day, you may find it to be exceedingly difficult to connect with your students in a positive way. That’s why empathy is one of the most crucial skills for teachers to have.    

3. Patience

The history of Ancient Rome wasn’t taught in a day. Every individual student is going to have their own learning styles, behavioral quirks, home lives, interests and disinterests, and many other traits that make them a unique challenge to educate. Learning patience makes enriching student lives and expanding their knowledge a far more enjoyable task for both of you. Building connections with students allows you to have insight into their needs.

4. Leadership

You are in charge of classroom management, and you must display leadership skills in order to do your job effectively. A teacher who has not refined their ability to lead may quickly find that they’ve lost control of the classroom.

Leadership is among the most important skills for effective teachers out there, and it comes in many forms. Find your style and develop it.

5. Collaboration

You may have a fair amount of autonomy within your classroom, but teaching is not always a solo gig.  Whether you’re working with fellow teachers, teacher’s aides, administrators, or your students, your career as an educator often requires teamwork.

Refining your ability to effectively work within the confines of a team is crucial to becoming a great teacher.

6. Communication

You won’t see the teaching of the past that you see in educational films. Teachers are now expected to know their students and to provide them engaging opportunities to work alongside their peers. Students are expected to use academic language and you as a teacher must also articulate how students are progressing academically. This means you’ll need to be able to address an entire classroom, along with individual students and their parents when the need arises.

Prepare to share your ideas and your knowledge with precision and clarity.     

7. Creativity

You may be trying to connect with a hard-to-reach student, finding a way to work within tight budget constraints, developing new lesson plans, or attempting to break the monotony of teaching the same old courses in the same old way, but creativity is going to be vital to your success.

Creativity is among the most important skills of any teacher that wants to find joy and fulfillment in their career. Adding your own flair to the way you conduct your classroom activities not only increases your own engagement, but it also makes your lessons more interesting for your students.   

8. Self-Motivation

As a teacher, the majority of your job is unsupervised and so it can be easy to lose the motivation to continue performing at your best as time goes by. That’s why self-motivation is one of the most important skills for good teachers.

When you can consistently provide yourself with the inspiration to give it your all, you always bring a certain amount of excitement to your classroom. This positivity can emanate through the classroom to students.

9. Confidence

Effectively communicating your knowledge to a classroom full of students is going to require a bit of self-confidence. Maintaining order in a classroom is going to require even more self-confidence than that!

Students can sense when you are not prepared, and they may try and take advantage to see what they can get away with. Make sure you display your confidence through consistent communication on rules and expectations. Practice routines with students to show that you are fair but that they’re held accountable for behavior and academic expectations.

10. Enthusiasm

Of all of the teaching skills that can help educators to make a significant impact on the lives of their students, enthusiasm may be the most important. If you can consistently bring energy, excitement, and curiosity into your classroom, you can develop an engaging learning environment, which allows students to have the opportunity to learn and grow.

How to Become a Better Teacher

If you’re an aspiring or current educator and this list sent you into a panic, don’t worry. These skills are not the sort of thing that you either have or you don’t. They can be nurtured, cultivated, and developed through professional development if you’re willing to dedicate yourself to it.

Simply identifying the skill sets you’d like to sharpen can be enough to start you on your path, but there are many other ways for you to hone your teaching abilities, too.

Teacher’s workshops can be incredibly helpful. Seeking out a mentor in your field who has years of knowledge and wisdom to impart can set you on the right path, too. You can also continue your education by pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree in education.

This journey not only rewards you with all kinds of new teaching knowledge, but it also connects you with people who know exactly how to refine your teaching skills. This allows you to become the educator and role model you’ve always wanted to be.