Working Together: Characteristics of Effective Teachers
Every now and then I come across an article that fits beautifully with our work toward quality early education and care. Here, then, are the “Twelve Characteristics of Effective Early Childhood Teachers”, compiled by Laura J. Colker, and published in the Young Children journal. The key word here is effective. If we’re going to teach, our aim should be high!
These personal characteristics, which are often based on feelings and beliefs, are sometimes difficult to identify. But, when one combines these characteristics with both knowledge and skill, you have the makings of an excellent teacher.
The twelve characteristics are:
- Passion about Young Children: Enthusiasm is one thing, but something stronger, drive and passion, set the excellent teachers apart. When you feel you can make a difference, passion is ignited!
- Perseverance: Dedication, sometimes tenacity, but always the willingness to advocate for something better for the child.
- Risk-taking: Sometimes thinking “out of the box” makes the difference when working with children – despite the fact that it has never been done before.
- Pragmatism: Compromising moves the plan along. Even if the gains are small and steady, effective teachers know they will eventually accomplish their goals.
- Patience: A long fuse is necessary when working with so many. Patience is a must!
- Flexibility: The expectation is that a teacher will be able to deal well with change and unexpected turns. That is the nature of the work.
- Respect: In thought, word, and deed!
- Creativity: Essential! The hallmark of an effective teacher!
- Authenticity: You know who you are and what you stand for. Children are very good judges of character – they know who is real, authentic, and they respond accordingly.
- Love of learning: To inspire this in young children, the teacher must also exhibit the characteristic.
- High energy: Most children respond positively to the teacher who has energy, physical stamina, and the ability to play.
- Sense of humor: Isn’t learning supposed to be fun? There is nothing better than children’s spontaneous laughter in a classroom. Enjoyment! Besides, laughing feels so good!
A pretty good list. Do you agree?
And when you have one or more teachers on your team who display these characteristics, you have the makings of an exemplary early childhood program!
As Director, I used this article with my teaching teams – as a basis for reflection and as a tool in setting professional goals. Reading, thinking, and talking about each of these characteristics reminds us why we love the work we do, and why we continue to grow in the field.
If you would like to read the entire article, you can find it in Young Children (March 2008). NAEYC members can access the article via www.naeyc.org.
Thanks for reading – please share with other colleagues if you’d like.