Video Transcript: Soft Skills for Teachers

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Hi, everyone. Chris here from Helpful Professor. And today we’re talking about 21 soft skills for teachers. Soft skills are skills that are not very easy to define because they’re not measurable skills, hard skills are skills that are easy to define and measurable skills. Like the ability to do math tasks, the ability to write and to even speak they’re measurable skills.

But soft skills. We might call them personal skills or even interpersonal skills because they’re skills that we need to have, but they’re very hard to define. And they’re usually skills that can be used across a range of different professions. But today we’re talking about soft skills specifically for teachers let’s get started with the 21 top soft skills teachers need in the 21st century.

Number one is leadership. Any teacher needs to be able to show their ability to lead a classroom. They need to be able to make sure that all the students are doing the task that they required to do. They need to make sure that they have control over the students at all times. And they might even need to make sure that they’re leading the parents.

So they need to be able to communicate with the parents and let the parents know the direction the class is going, the direction the curriculum is going, and that the teacher has confidence to get the students there. As teachers progress through their careers, they must also develop leadership skills over other teachers. So for example, a head teacher or a principal in a school needs to be a leader for other teachers and help teach other teachers how to teach. Communication skills are also very important for teachers. Imagine a teacher who maybe in your life has never been able to teach you as well as you would have liked. The reason that they had trouble teaching you concepts is probably because their communication skills weren’t good enough to have good communication skills means communicating things clearly efficiently, and making sure that it’s at the right level for the student. If you teach something that’s too difficult, the student is not going to understand if you teach something that’s not difficult enough, the student is going to find it a bit boring. So as a teacher, we need to be able to communicate information in a way that’s engaging exciting and at the right level for the students so they understand it, but they’re also learning at the same time.

Teamwork skills are important for teachers. Every teacher works with other teachers to work on their curriculum, so they’ll get together and they’ll make sure that they’re all teaching the same things across the different classrooms. If there are several teachers of the same year level at a school, or they might be working with other teachers on things like extracurricular activities or sports.

So teachers need to work together all the time to make sure that they get the most out of one. And teach the students effective. Any teacher who spent even one day in a classroom knows that multitasking is central to the job. Imagine a teacher who’s teaching one student one-on-one in one corner of the classroom.

That teacher also needs to be able to know what students in the other corner of the classroom and doing, and keeping one eye on those students at all times to make sure that they’re okay. So a teacher always needs to be balancing a lot of different things in their mind at once, and we call this multitask.

Punctuality. Can you imagine a teacher turning up to a classroom, 10 minutes late? What would those students have been doing for those 10 minutes? They would have been sitting around in the classroom, scratching their chins. Wondering what was going on when you have a classroom of 10 year old children or eight year old children, you just cannot leave them on supervised.

So, a teacher always needs to turn up on time. It’s not only for the safety of the students. But with oldest students, for example, it’s to make sure that they know that you respect their time and you take their learning seriously.

Organization. Now imagine the amount of things that a teaching needs to keep in the back of their mind at once.

Remember we already talked about how they need to multitask, but they also need to make sure that they’ve got all of the resources available to them whenever they need them. So a teacher needs to be really organized and know exactly where all of their resources are so that they can go and get the resources and retrieve them and provide them for the students whenever the students need them.

So this is what we call organizing ourselves efficiently.

Number seven is time management. So imagine you’re a teacher and you have a class that goes for three hours and you have four lessons that you need to teach across those three hours. Imagine if the first three lessons took two hours and 45 minutes, and then the fourth lesson, you’ve only got 15 minutes to teach it.

You haven’t organized your time appropriately. You haven’t managed it appropriately. So teachers need strong time management skills so that they can teach things in a nice, clear pattern. So there’s enough time for everything to be taught. This doesn’t only go for the classroom on one day, but it also goes for throughout your term or semester, you’ve got a curriculum that you need to teach and you need to make sure that you’re teaching the right pattern so that by the end of the year, you’ve taught everything that needs to be taught in the curriculum.

Number eight is resilient. Teaching is a very exhausting job and teachers will come to the end of the day and they’ll always be tired and exhausted. Some days they’ll be even more tired than others because they might’ve had a very difficult student for the day or a difficult parent, or it was just a really tough day of teaching.

Teachers need to be able to develop their resilience skills so that they can manage through those tough times that all teachers are going to have.

Patience. Not all students learn something the minute that they’re taught it. Sometimes we need to sit with the student and help them slowly learn something until that light bulb goes off in their head and they finally understand the concept.

So a teacher needs a lot of patience so that they can sit there with the student and help the student over time until the student gets to the point where they have learnt the concept. Teachers can’t rush things. They have to make sure that they’re patient with the student. So the student learns the best they can.


So teachers often need to sit and reflect at the end of the day to see what went well and what didn’t do too well in their teaching. If we didn’t reflect on our teaching, we would not become better teachers over time. We need to think and say, well, I did something really well today, and I’m going to do that again tomorrow, but there’s one other thing that I tried today that didn’t work too well. So I’m going to make sure that I never do that again, because it doesn’t seem to be an effective teaching strategy.

Goal setting. All teachers are going to have goals that they set for themselves at the beginning of the year, the day, the term or any other period of time. A common goal a teacher might have, might be to develop a better relationship with a certain student.

That’s just one example of goal setting. And I’m sure teachers have a whole range of different goals from becoming a better teacher of a certain subject to having more creative lessons.

And that brings us to creativity. As a teacher, when you’re given a curriculum and you need to teach a topic, it’s your job to think about the most creative way to teach that topic, to make sure it’s engaging and fun for the students so that they learn something at the end of the day, if the content isn’t creatively introduced in the classroom, there’s a good chance that the students are going to be bored and they’re not going to learn as well as if you presented it in a more engaging way.

Social and emotional intelligence.

Social and emotional intelligence refers to your ability to understand your emotions in a situation. Teachers need to make sure that they’re aware when they’re getting stressed or when they’re getting angry so they don’t bring that out on the students. They need to look at their own emotions and self-regulate their own emotions at all times, because it’s not the student’s fault if the teacher’s getting frustrated or tired or stressed or angry, the student obviously always comes first. And the teacher needs to stay calm and positive in the classroom for students.

Number 14, cultural competence. In today’s world, most teachers are going to be teaching a classroom full of students from a range of different cultures.

And it’s the teacher’s role to know the best way students of different cultures learn. Maybe some things that parents of certain cultures don’t want their children to be taught and even taboos within certain cultures that they need to be aware of so that they’re not offending the students in their classrooms.

So teachers need to have a lot of cultural awareness and cultural competence when they walk into a classroom.

Number 15 is professionalism. And this one refers back to social, emotional intelligence. A teacher needs to know their emotions and regulate their own emotions so that they’re always presenting themselves in a professional way.

An example of a time when teachers need to show professionalism is during the parent teacher interview, the teacher has a role or a responsibility to be the professional in that situation and present everything they had been teaching, how they have been teaching and be accountable for the parents. So the parents can ask them any questions that they have to make sure that the parents and the teachers are working well together and on the same page.

Problem solving. So teachers are always going to come across problems. One of the most common problems teachers come across is when their students aren’t learning in the way that teachers thought they would learn. The teacher might’ve taught a lesson and at the end of the day, the students still didn’t understand what the teacher was trying to say.

So the teacher needs to stop and say, okay, that lesson didn’t go too. Well. I need to find out why it didn’t go too well and meet the students where they’re at to make sure that to help the students learn better.

Change management. So this one, a good example of change management that teachers need to have is when they’re bringing new students in from a previous school.

So a student might come into the classroom in the middle of the school year and they get put at a desk with a bunch of other students. And this student comes from a school where they hadn’t caught quite as much on the curriculum yet. So the student needs to adjust to the new classroom and also catch up with the rest of the class so that that student gets the optimal learning possible.

But that’s often very hard when a student’s changing from one environment to the other and the teacher needs to manage that transition sensitively.

Quick thinking. Every teacher will have come across a situation when they needed to think very quickly. They needed to think on their feet. An example of this is when a student asks the teacher a question and the teacher doesn’t have the answer to the question on the top of their mind. A good strategy if you don’t quite have the answer to the top of your mind, if you can’t bring it up, if you can’t think enough to bring it up, make sure that you say okay, I’m going to go home and research that I want you to go home and research the answer to that question as well. And tomorrow let’s come together and let’s discuss what we found out.

So that’s a strategy of co-learning with your students instead of acting as if you’re the authority.

Nonverbal communication, everyone who was ever at a classroom can remember a teacher who gave them a stare that told them to stop misbehaving. Maybe this stare said stop talking, or maybe the stair said, you need to take your seat now.

There’s a very teacher look about it, uh, that a lot of teachers have perfected, but there are other looks as well, teaches might give a little wink to a student to let them know they did a good job. They might have to point at certain things within the classroom, all of these things that don’t involve talking, but do involve communicating what we call nonverbal communication. And that’s a very important strategy for a teacher.

One quick tip for nonverbal communication. Whenever you want your students’ attention at the end of the lesson, go and stand at the same spot every time. Over time, the students will learn that that’s the spot that you stand when they need to be quiet and listen to you.

Number 20 is adaptability. Every teacher is going to have to adapt over their time as a teacher. They will get new technologies coming into their classroom, changes to their curriculum over the years, and even changes to teammates who they work with. Other teachers in the school. And those teachers will always need to adapt to one another and new changing situations because schools and education are always changing over time.

And lastly, we have compassion. Teachers obviously always need to be compassionate and sympathetic with their students. Oftentimes we have a lot more knowledge than our students and we think that what we’re teaching is very easy and simple, but for those students, it’s the first time they’re coming across these new ideas.

It’s the first time these students are having to deal with a lot of critical thinking issues. So as teachers, we need to be sympathetic to that and be patient with them and make sure that we give them all the time they need.

When we’re teaching young children we also need to remember, it can be hard to be a child. There’s a lot of issues around bullying in classrooms, for example, and just the emotions involved in growing up that we need to be aware of and we need to be sensitive to as educators.

So that’s 21 soft skills for teachers for you to think about, have a think about whether you have those soft skills and which ones you need to develop over time.

You can develop these soft skills. Not everyone starts as a teacher having all of these soft skills in abundance. That’s okay. Because over time as you get exposed to new experiences and as an educator, you will develop these skills.

But there are also skills that maybe you could talk about if you’re really good at, say, you’re very compassionate or you’ve got great time management, you can talk about them in a resume when you’re applying for a job as a teacher.

As always, I’ll leave a link below to the full write-up of this blog post in case you want to see a blog post that outlines all 21 of these soft skills for teachers.

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Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.

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