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20 Things Only Teachers Would Understand

20 Things Only Teachers Would Understand

When I became a teacher a long time ago, I had no idea what I was getting myself into! But I loved teaching, I really did. Of course, I escaped into teacher training, then management and administration but ran screaming back to the classroom. The management job nearly killed me, so thanks to teaching, I am alive and well to-day. Here are some of the things teachers and myself go through on a daily basis. Are you sure you want to become a teacher? Read about these 20 things that only teachers would understand. Then, decide if you still want to be a teacher.

1. Keep calm – you’re a teacher

If you are a trifle impatient or bad-tempered, then forget it. You will have to put up with noisy individuals, who have no interest in learning, and stupid bureaucracy at every turn, so you just have to keep calm. Of course, there are wonderful students who are a joy to teach, but they are few and far between.

2. It’s hard not to have a favorite

Watch the video below. The teacher thinks the guy’s joke is really funny – he goes on to get an award! But what about the poor guy who actually made the joke and got no credit? Sometimes, it is just impossible not to have favorites.

3. You have to be tough to stay the course

Did you know that in the USA and the UK, about 40% to 50% of teachers leave in the first 5 years. That figure is up by 30% compared to 20 years ago. Instead of concentrating on reducing teachers’ paperwork and giving them more support, the debate has centred on a minority who happen to be bad teachers.

4. Violent behavior is scary

Recently, a 16 year old was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment because he stabbed his teacher to death at a school in Leeds in the UK. That boy was a model student but changed once he had been diagnosed with diabetes.

A friend of mine does supply (substitute) teaching and she told me how scary it was when a fight broke out between two students. She suffered from PTSD for a time after this event. She is always wary when the agency offers her work and ask about her ‘behavior management skills.’ That is a clue that she might be facing violent and aggressive behavior if she agrees to teach at that school.

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5. Giving low grades can be tough

I had a Math teacher who always gave me 2 out of 10 for my Algebra homework. “I’ll be generous, I’ll give you 2,” she would shriek. I can’t believe she was finding it tough to give me what I deserved, but I did when I became a teacher. This reminds me of the corny joke where the pupil says,

Pupil: I don’t think I deserved zero on this test!
Teacher: I agree, but that’s the lowest mark I could give you!

6. Questions and answers are your bread and butter

Questions, tests, grades, answers. It seems teachers have to be like the chief prosecutor in the courtroom. Then there are nasty consequences if somebody cannot answer all your questions.

Teacher: Why can’t you ever answer any of my questions?
Pupil: Well if I could there wouldn’t be much point in me being here!

7. Nobody is listening

That is what you think when you have explained something for the umpteenth time. You count to three, then try again. Water on stone, water on stone.

8. Of course you hate cell phones

Yes, you banned these but there is always someone sneaking one in and texting his friends. You know that all these devices just add to the chaos surrounding cheating in exams and also cyberbullying.

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You wish that there were an actual law banning these infernal devices from the classroom. You think fondly of Castilla-La Mancha in Spain where the regional government has actually made it illegal to have these phones in the classroom.

9. Get ready to be stared at

You have to be on stage all the time. The worst thing is that once you spill some coffee on your clothes, you are going to suffer a 100 times more than any other person would. Everybody is staring at you. When things go well though, it is not so bad being center stage!

10. Student howlers will make you laugh

One of the great things about teaching is the laughs you get from student errors in tests and in the classroom too. Here are some of my favourite ones on the video below with the ‘The Funny Teacher’, Mark Schumacher.

11. Teaching is rewarding

“The one exclusive sign of thorough knowledge is the power of teaching.”- Aristotle

Let’s face it. There is a great reward in passing on knowledge and helping children and teens develop into balanced and responsible citizens (hopefully!).

12. Paperwork will probably drive you crazy

Teachers in Scotland have complained about the ‘Amazonian forest’ worth of paperwork linked to their report writing, grading homework and recording. There seems to be an inordinate time spent on entering data and then sifting through it. Teachers complain that there is not nearly enough input on how to create engaging lessons. That would be much more beneficial for both teachers and students, according to a report in The Washington Post.

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13. Teachers get stressed out

It is true that teachers are under enormous pressure from the school authorities, from parents and the students themselves. Many teachers get stressed out, but there are many ways that they can devote more time for relaxing activities outside the classroom.

14. Teachers are more likely to get ill

Working with so many people in an enclosed space is likely to lead to more viral and bacterial infections. Just a case of numbers really. Health studies show that, not surprisingly, teachers are more liable to suffer from laryngitis and bronchitis than those in other professions. Teaching students about basic health hygiene can help everybody and keeping a hand sanitizer within easy reach is always a great idea.

15. Teachers and parents have to get along

In the past it was just PTA meetings, report cards and a few conferences annually. Now both parties expect closer collaboration and that can be really helpful for the students. Parents want to know more about what is going on in the classroom and teachers are really happy that somebody is taking a real interest in their children’s progress. It’s a win- win situation and that should always be kept in mind.

16. Changes in the curriculum loom like dark clouds

Just when a teacher has got used to the new syllabus, a note from the school authorities reveals that further changes are on the way. The teacher sighs. So do the students! High school students often protest as well. Colorado high schoolers protested about the changes to the history syllabus which, they felt, would downplay the role of civil disobedience in US history.

“It’s our history; don’t make it mystery.”- Colorado students’ slogan

17. Parents who think their kids are being bullied

Of course bullying can be a serious problem. Parents and teachers can work together to solve it. But when a parent arrives and tells you that a certain pupil is picking on her daughter and must be punished, then the teacher thinks that maybe this is just one side of the story! A much better approach would be for the parent to flag up the bullying issue and ask how they can solve the problem together.

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18. Parents who complain about too much homework

When this happens, the teacher wonders how their kids will react to this. Maybe they will start to take it easy, knowing that their wonderful parents are going to solve the problem. A much better approach would be for the parents to help the kids manage their homework time better, instead of complaining and whining about it.

19. Teachers are supposed to be perfect

Every teacher has to be perfect but the reality is very different from that ridiculous expectation. Teachers get a hard time from the press and yet they are the lowest paid of most of the professions. How many perfect doctors or lawyers can you name? Now you understand why so few graduates want to go in for teaching. Why not pay them more and give them better working conditions?

20. Help! I’m sinking

When a new teacher walks into the classroom, he or she faces enormous challenges. Just think of the behavior issues and how to manage a large class. Also, they are crying out for support in making really great lessons plans and how to deal with a few brats in the class who can ruin everything. Next time you meet a new teacher, smile at her!

So, you still want to be a teacher? Great! Let us know in the comments how an inspiring teacher at school helped you make that choice.

Featured photo credit: Olympic Week – Teacher for a day/ Chicago 2016 via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on April 17, 2019

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

2. Flexibility

Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

3. Being a Team Player

Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

4. Positive Mental Attitude

There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

5. A Strong Work Ethic

People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

  • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
  • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
  • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
  • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

6. Public Speaking

Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

7. Integrity

From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

  • Always doing what you say you will do
  • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

…even when no one is around to check up on you.

There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

8. Managing Your Time

Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

9. Assertiveness

In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

  • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
  • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
  • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
  • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

How do you use this information for yourself?

It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

10. Creative Thinking

LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Final Thoughts

The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

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