What it takes to be a good primary school teacher
What are the qualities of a good primary school teacher?
Becoming a great primary school teacher isn’t simply about obtaining a relevant teaching qualification. As with any profession it takes practice, time and work to become proficient.
There are, in fact, a huge number of qualities and skills that make brilliant primary school teachers - ones that truly stand out from the crowd.
Research has shown that having a good sense of humour, being able to engage with your pupils, and being able to stay calm under pressure are just three of the character traits required to teach a primary school class effectively.
In 2014 the Pearson report on effective pedagogy in primary schools was released and it gave an interesting insight into what makes a primary school teacher excel.
Whether you are just starting out in the teaching profession or have been doing it for years, there is always room to learn and grow, and understanding how to be a good teacher can make a huge difference to how you run your classroom, and how your pupils respond to you.
Here are some of the essential skills every good primary school teacher will obtain.
It probably comes as no surprise that having superior organisational skills is hugely important when it comes to teaching excellence.
Top rated schools have shown that their teachers have particularly strong organisational skills, ensuring lessons are planned in great detail, resources obtained well in advance of lessons, and that lessons are executed smoothly, as well as being adjusted as and when necessary to meet individual pupil’s needs.
Teachers who conduct their lessons in such a way use every single minute of their lesson time productively, and so will get the most out of their pupils, who are, therefore, more likely to perform better, feel more confident and less likely to fall behind.
Good primary school teachers ensure that the learning ideas and concepts being introduced into the classroom are understood by each and every pupil.
They make sure that all children in the classroom understand the objective of the lesson, and, if not, adapt their teaching style to ensure that this is rectified.
Pupils need to be clear about the point of their learning, and what they are trying to achieve. If there is no clear understanding of objectives, and what is expected of them, children are more likely to lose interest and become distracted and less motivated to meet their goals.
Being a good primary school teacher means putting thought and effort into how your children will continue to learn outside the classroom.
This means setting homework tasks that are useful, meaningful, related to what has been learnt in the classroom, and help deepen children’s understanding of the subject matter.
Homework must have a clear objective or set of instructions for children to follow.
Building relationships with pupils is a hugely important factor when determining the effectiveness of a primary school teacher. Building pupil-teacher relationships and overseeing and guiding inter-pupil relationships are essential skills.
Encouraging your class to be respectful of one another, sociable, polite and friendly, is necessary to ensure a pleasant class climate.
A class must also be willing to stick to the class rules - the result of doing so means time can be spent teaching and learning rather than battling behavioural problems, handing out a disciplinary action and being interrupted when trying to get through the lesson material.
Having good behavioural management skills is imperative to a primary school teacher's success. A chaotic classroom with disruptive pupils makes for a very challenging teaching environment. Teachers in these classrooms find it harder to keep control, and may resort to using inappropriate disciplinary strategies such as shouting, shaming or threatening children.
In a productive and controlled classroom, all discipline is measured, appropriate, and delivered calmly, and behavioural issues can often be quashed with a stern warning or even humour.
Making teaching personal
Another important skill when it comes to being a good primary school teacher is learning how to adjust and tailor lessons to fit in with individual pupil’s needs.
Different learning materials should be provided, and different levels of learning offered to suit pupils of all abilities. Creating lessons that are challenging, varied and exciting will motivate and engage pupils, spark their interest and inspire them to want to know more.
Coping with stress
The best primary school teachers will be well-versed when it comes to dealing with stress.
Primary school teaching is a challenging job, with long hours and often pressure to ensure pupils are working well, and making progress.
The best teachers will be calm under pressure and have learnt to deal with stress. They will have developed coping mechanisms to help them remain calm and focused when times get tough.
Dialogic teaching and learning
Another important quality of a primary school teacher is employing dialogic teaching in the classroom.
This means the lesson should be an ongoing, intelligent, focused discussion between pupils and the teacher, rather than just a teacher presenting information to the class with little opportunity for discussion and interaction.
Feedback and assessment
Understanding the best way to feedback to pupils is also imperative.
Constructive feedback and useful assessment of work will encourage pupils to improve rather than dishearten or confuse them.
Primary school teachers should provide plenty of opportunities for feedback throughout the lesson to help pupils review and reflect on their own learning.
Including plenaries in lessons is another effective teaching device and is important for children to explore subjects further, examine issues in greater depth and to review the concepts covered in the lesson.
Including a plenary at the end of the lesson is an excellent way to ensure all children have understood the lesson material, as it encourages useful questions and consolidates learning. Of course using mini-plenaries throughout the lesson is also a great way to ensure all pupils have a good grasp of what they are being taught before moving on to the next stage or topic.
These skills are all notable qualities that can be found in exceptional primary school teachers. Of course, it takes practice to refine these skills and employ them effectively. However, being the best primary school teacher you can be is important, and these characteristics are important to ensure you have a class of happy, productive children who always get the most out of your lessons.
For everything you need to deliver exciting, informative lessons, including tailored activities to suit the individual abilities of your class, have a look at the great range of PlanBee resources or get in touch with our friendly team today.