What do students, parents, administrators and the community really expect of teachers? Obviously, teachers must educate students in certain academic subjects, but society also wants teachers to encourage adherence to a generally accepted code of conduct. The measurable responsibilities speak to the significance of the job, but certain personal qualities might better indicate a teacher's potential for long-term success.
Teachers Need an Aptitude for Teaching
Teachers must be able to explain their subject matter to students, but this goes beyond simply reciting the knowledge they gained through their own education. Teachers must possess an aptitude to teach the material through different methods based on the needs of the students.
Teachers must also meet the needs of students of varying abilities within the same classroom, provide all students with an equal opportunity to learn. Teachers must be able to inspire students from diverse backgrounds and experiences to achieve.
Teachers Need Strong Organizational Skills
Teachers must be organized. Without a good system of organization and daily procedures in place, the job of teaching becomes more difficult. A disorganized teacher could find him or herself in professional jeopardy. If a teacher does not keep accurate attendance, grade and behavioral records, it could result in administrative and legal problems.
Teachers Need Common Sense and Discretion
Teachers must possess common sense. The ability to make decisions grounded in common sense leads to a more successful teaching experience. Teachers who make judgment errors often create difficulties for themselves and sometimes even the profession.
Teachers must maintain the confidentiality of student information, particularly for students with learning disabilities. Teachers can create professional problems for themselves by being indiscreet, but they can also lose the respect of their students, affecting their potential for learning.
Teachers Need To Be Good Role Models
Teachers must present themselves as a good role model both in and out of the classroom. A teacher's private life can impact his or her professional success. A teacher who participates in questionable activities during personal time can experience a loss of moral authority in the classroom. While it's true that varying sets of personal morals exist among segments of society, a generally accepted standard for basic rights and wrongs dictates acceptable personal behavior for teachers.
Every career has its own level of responsibility, and it's perfectly reasonable to expect teachers to meet their professional obligations and responsibilities. Doctors, lawyers and other professionals operate with similar responsibilities and expectations for patient and client privacy. But society often holds teachers to an even higher standard because of their position of influence with children. It's clear that children learn best with positive role models who demonstrate the types of behavior that lead to personal success.
Though written in 1910, the words of Chauncey P. Colegrove in his book "The Teacher and the School" still ring true today:
No one can justly expect that all teachers, or any teacher, shall be endlessly patient, free from mistakes, always perfectly just, a miracle of good temper, unfailingly tactful, and unerring in knowledge. But people have a right to expect that all teachers shall have fairly accurate scholarship, some professional training, average mental ability, moral character, some aptness to teach, and that they shall covet earnestly the best gifts.