To become a high school teacher, you need a bachelor's degree and state certification to teach one or more specific high school subjects. To inspire and educate students, though, you normally need some key personal skills that contribute to teaching effectiveness. Classroom leadership, the ability to communicate effectively, passion for teaching and strong interpersonal skills are among the most useful qualities for high school teachers.
Leadership, especially the ability to inspire and motivate, is a critical skill set for high school teachers. They must first role model good ethical behavior and decisions for students to establish credibility. Additionally, teachers must assert themselves and show an ability to get teenaged students excited about learning and help them understand both the personal and societal implications of their education. They must know when to listen to student ideas and concerns and when to use their authority to maintain a controlled learning environment.
All teachers need to communicate well and this is especially critical for a high school teacher. First, he must articulate classroom instruction in a clear way for students. He must also listen well and present clear guidance and feedback to students in one-on-one situations. High school teachers also interact with parents at times, as well as colleagues, staff and administrators of the school. Professional language, effective listening and clear messages are key in these conversations. Teachers also need good written communication skills for assignment instructions and any reports prepared for parents or the school.
Passion or enthusiasm for subject matter and teaching are necessary for high school teaching success. As a math instructor, for instance, you need the ability to convey to students the excitement of learning math and the value math skills offer for the future. Enthusiasm also shows in a willingness and ability to incorporate new technology and innovative teaching methods into classes. Passionate high school teachers take continuing education courses and participate in professional seminars in their field that can enhance their subject knowledge and teaching ability.
A high school teacher needs a high level of emotional intelligence. Adolescence is a major life transition and some students struggle mentally, physically and emotionally. As a teacher, your ability to influence students in both academics and life skills is greater if you can show a genuine empathy and concern for each as an individual. One way to do this is to communicate your availability before and after school to talk or help students with assignments. Encouraging student involvement beyond the class also helps in building relationships, such as advising a student club or attending sports or extracurricular events to support students' efforts.
- Photo Credit Jetta Productions/Lifesize/Getty Images