Important Job Skills for Teachers

Teacher pointing while teaching in classroom
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Teachers have the power to change their students' lives for the better. The best of them inspire their students toward greatness and show them what they are capable of. There are many positions that call for teaching skills: college professors, private tutors, camp counselors, park rangers, and CPR instructors all teach, to list just a few examples. But when most people say “teacher,” they mean someone who teaches children in primary or secondary school.

What Kind of Skills Do You Need to Become a Teacher?

In order to be a great teacher, you must display enthusiasm, leadership, commitment, and compassion. By exhibiting these key factors, you will appeal to the schools at which you are applying as someone who will work to better the lives of their students in a variety of ways. Helping others succeed is a central component to teaching, thus trust, knowledge, and commitment are invaluable traits.

In order to qualify as a public school teacher, it is important to earn the necessary certification, which varies based on the school and state in which you reside. Many private schools, however, have their own criteria to qualify.

Teachers must also maintain current professional development standards by taking regular refresher courses and tests. 

Types of Teaching Skills

Illustration by Melissa Ling. © The Balance, 2018

Communication

Teaching, by definition, is a form of communication, so it follows that a teacher must have excellent communication skills. These include both verbal and written communication, professional yet friendly body language, and the ability to actively listen. You must be able to explain the material in terms that are both accessible and meaningful to the students.

You must be able to adapt your communication style to the needs of different students, depending on their age, culture, ability, and learning style. Clarity, accuracy, and professionalism with parents, colleagues, and administrators is also imperative.

Critical Thinking

Teachers are tasked with solving a variety of problems, often under a tight deadline. They answer difficult questions from students on the spot, solve conflicts between students, revise lesson plans, and deal with issues among colleagues. A good teacher knows what resources to use to solve these kinds of questions quickly and effectively.

Teachers have to juggle a number of tasks, from teaching to attending meetings, lesson planning, and grading. Getting all of it done in a timely manner requires excellent physical organization and time management.

  • Creating a Comfortable Learning Environment
  • Creating Assignments
  • Creating Exams
  • Create a Positive Learning Environment
  • Creating New Ideas
  • Delivery of Material
  • Develop Lesson Plans
  • Lesson Plans
  • Manage Student Behavior
  • Organizational Skills 
  • Preparing Lessons
  • Professional
  • Provide Student Support Services
  • Results Oriented
  • Setting Expectations
  • Setting Goals

Organization

Teachers have to juggle a number of tasks, from teaching to attending meetings, and from lesson planning to grading. As such, they need to be able to keep all of these duties organized, and complete tasks in a timely manner.

Passion and Creativity 

Enthusiasm is key when teaching a subject in order to keep the students engaged and enthusiastic themselves. In the same vein, being creative when planning and presenting a lesson is integral to keeping students’ attention. When doing so, it is important to understand that what works for one student (or class of kids) won't necessarily work for others.

  • Artistic
  • Being Musically Inclined
  • Confidence Building
  • Directing
  • Enthusiastic
  • Flexibility
  • Love of Learning

Patience

Teachers need to demonstrate patience, particularly when dealing with difficult classroom situations. They often have to explain concepts multiple times and manage students who act up or have a difficult time in class. Dealing with parents, colleagues, and administrators can also be trying.

A teacher must handle all of it with a calm, professional demeanor, and pay careful attention to the challenge of the moment. While some people are naturally more patient than others, the emotional control and maturity that go into patience can be learned and must be practiced.

  • Positive Attitude
  • Positive Role Model
  • Respectful
  • Supportive
  • Team Player
  • Understanding

Technical Skills

Teachers must, of course, understand the material they teach. Naturally, different positions require different types and levels of skill, but even teachers of very young children need significant expertise. It is not enough for a first-grade math teacher to know how to perform basic arithmetic, for example. He or she must have a deep understanding of numbers and numeric relationships in order to be able to explain the material in a thorough and responsive way. 

Teachers must be able to perform the core responsibilities involved in the role, from comfortably using Microsoft Office to create materials to being comfortable providing disciplinary action as necessary. See additional keywords related to the technical skills required from teachers: 

  • Childcare
  • Coaching
  • Computer
  • Conduct Testing
  • Curriculum Knowledge
  • Disciplinary Action
  • Education Plans
  • Evaluate Performance
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Grading Exams
  • Group Counseling
  • Improve Study Habits
  • Individual Counseling
  • Instruction
  • Management
  • Microsoft Office
  • Provide Student Support Services
  • Supervision
  • Training
  • Technology

More Teaching Skills

  • Assertive
  • Compassionate
  • Detail Oriented
  • Encouraging
  • Growth Mindset
  • High Emotional Intelligence
  • Inspiring
  • Mindful
  • Passion for Learning
  • Patience
  • Problem Solving
  • Relatable
  • Stamina
  • Strong Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Time Management

Resume and Cover Letter Examples

Review examples of resumes and cover letters for teaching jobs.

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

ADD YOUR MOST RELEVANT SKILLS TO YOUR RESUME: Review lists of the top skills employers look for when evaluating job applicants, and the best skills to put on your resume to help you get hired.

HIGHLIGHT YOUR SKILLS IN YOUR COVER LETTER: Use your cover letter to show the hiring manager that you're a strong match for the job by mentioning how your qualifications fit the job requirements.

USE SKILL WORDS DURING JOB INTERVIEWS: Keep these top skills in mind during your interview, be prepared to give examples of how you've used each one, and practice answering common teacher interview questions.