Written by Russ Gadzhiev, PhD
“First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not.” – Octavia Butler
“In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions . It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.” – Tony Robbins
“Successful people are simply those with successful habits.” – Brian Tracy
When we are doing a job, it is ok to wonder from time to time whether we are doing our job well. The same goes for teaching jobs. As a teacher, you have probably asked yourself sometimes – am I doing everything correctly? Are my students learning something from me? Is my teaching style appropriate for all students? Is my knowledge sufficient to teach them?
Sometimes, when things are tough, we also wonder how our colleagues manage to go through these challenging times in an orderly way and achieve success in the end. The same thing with teaching – sometimes when we are struggling with a class or finding ourselves lost when having to deal with students’ reports, their parents and so on. We look at some of our colleagues and it looks like they have everything under control, and everything is going well in their professional life.
So, if you have ever wondered how they are managing all that the answer may be that they have cultivated habits in themselves, which help them be good teachers. In this short article, we are going to examine the most important habits that a teacher should have. So are the most important ones:
Great Time Management
Teachers who are good at managing their time, usually do not find themselves snowed under with work. When it comes to marking students’ work, they do not allow it to pile up on their desks and try to mark it as they go. Likewise, when it comes to their professional correspondence with their colleagues – other teachers and principals, they try to answer the emails they receive straight away. Have you ever heard of the so-called “5-minute” rule? This is the rule that most effective teachers stick to. According to this rule, if there is something on your desk that can be done within 5 minutes, you need to do it otherwise it will be difficult to do in the future. Sticking to this rule helps teachers get more work done. If you have ever wondered, how people manage to deal with their emails and students’ papers – well, they simply do not accumulate it, using the aforementioned rule. Use it too and you will see that getting things done is easier than it seems.
Teachers Are Open-minded
Even if it is difficult for them to be open-minded, they are still trying to be as open-minded as they can. Good teachers practice what they preach. They are committed to life-long learning themselves because they understand that if their knowledge becomes obsolete, they will not be able to appeal to students or effectively engage them. So, one of the most important habits that effective teachers have is of course that they push themselves to learn more.
They like to reflect on things around them. They are always keen to try out new things without being prejudiced. They generally have a growth mindset, that is they understand the benefits of lifelong learning and know that this will help their career progress. When needed, they take risks. They are good at solving problems and making sure that they do not run into the same problem again and again. And all in all, they are generally committed and dedicated to improving themselves and working on themselves.
Finally, and importantly, they are always keen to engage in professional development. They understand that without professional development their career may simply get stalled. Effective teachers will always want to stay at the top of their game. They will also be curious about new conferences in the field of education. They will always try to learn about new techniques of teaching and establishing rapport with their students. They will read the latest articles on teaching or other related areas. They understand that professional development will not only upgrade their skillset but also boost their confidence, which is also very important.
Teachers Have positive Attitudes
It goes without saying that any job can be tough sometimes, including being a teacher. Every teacher had a bad day and we all will. It is simply inevitable. But what we need to remember is that it is up to us if we want the negative experience to be negative in the end. Someone said – there are no negative situations, there are only people’s negative reactions.
So successful teachers, when they have a bad day, they try not to beat themselves up for it. Instead, they are doing their best to reframe the negative situation and remind themselves that they love teaching. They remind themselves that teaching is a rewarding job that gives them motivation. Remember, practising being positive is like stretching a muscle. The more you stretch it, the better you get at it.
Teachers Understand the Importance of Self-care
As a teacher, you must spend a lot of mental energy on your class. Indeed, face-to-face classes are very taxing and demanding. Sometimes we may feel upset or down and even devoid of any energy altogether. To not lead oneself to the point of burnout, we need to remember to take time off. We need to be able to disconnect from our work sometimes (during the weekends) and make sure to charge our emotional batteries. Do not forget about the importance of emotional intelligence and the useful practices that this concept promotes.
One of these concepts is mindfulness. Being mindful is very important especially if you usually stay busy. During the day find some time to practice mindfulness, maybe for 2 or 3 or 5 minutes. If you take care of your mental health, you will have a better memory, you will be in a better mood, your stress levels will be very low, and you will be very creative too. Good mental health is a prerequisite for successful and productive teaching. Do not underestimate the importance of mental health.
Teachers Strive to Improve Their Communication Skills
An effective teacher must be a skilled communicator. First, an effective teacher needs to be able to connect with their students and create a good rapport with them. Secondly, an effective teacher needs to be able to communicate effectively with students’ parents. In my other articles, I have explained why teacher-parent relations are crucial for students’ personal development and school achievements. Finally, effective teachers will always communicate with their co-workers and colleagues and make sure that they are on the same page. Teachers often need support from their colleagues. Sometimes, less experienced teachers will need the support of more experienced colleagues.
There are many ways to improve one’s communication skills. If you are willing to work and improve your communication skills, check out our Shiminly articles, where we discuss the best strategies for improving them.
In this short article, we have discussed only five main habits of a successful teacher. But there are many other habits that you may want to start developing. For example, it is always a good idea to make sure that you are always prepared for your class. If you come to your class unprepared, your students will immediately feel that, and they will question your expertise and authority. You don’t want that to happen. If you are prepared, you will be more confident, and it will be easier for your students to listen to you and absorb the class material.
But probably the main point that I wanted to make is that you should always seek a balance between your personal time and your work. Teaching is communicating with people, being around them and giving them your energy. If you feel like you are tired, lack energy and not feeling like teaching at all – you need to take a break. It is important. After you have recovered and recharged your batteries, you can go back to teaching again and you will be full of fresh ideas and inspiration to give to your students.
Russ Gadzhiev obtained his PhD in history and politics from University of Melbourne. He also holds a master’s degree in International Relations from Moscow State University of International Relations, a top-ranking diplomatic school. Russ is a strong education professional with a history of working in the higher education sector of Australia and effectively communicates with learners from diverse cultural backgrounds. He is enthusiastic about teaching and mentoring, writing, curriculum development, research, information management and public speaking. He is fluent in Russian, English, Spanish and Portuguese.