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I've decided to make a post on FIVE signs which I think good teachers display and FIVE which say "Time to update that CV!" These are all based on my personal opinion through observations so feel free to share any other ideas you might have in the comment section below.


You can't please everyone all the time but we can do our best. Regardless of how experienced or qualified you are, if you are able to maintain a minimum of 80% student retention during a whole course, you're doing pretty well. It's an accepted fact that students have personal commitments which are subject to change: job, moving to another area, having a bigger family etc and these do not reflect you as a teacher. If half your students disappear after 2 months or you're going through individual students like there's no tomorrow, alarm bells!


Just because you have a degree in English, doesn't mean you can teach it. Similarly, yes, you can work your backside off landing a CELTA but such a course still doesn't teach you "to have a personality." There are several vital traits a teacher should possess, two here being: enthusiasm and charisma. The former is the love for the job, working with people and languages. Charisma is a social skill than can be learned which displays influence and affability with a good level of EQ (if you don't think so, let a teacher with skills and charisma cover your students for a week... and remember to say your final farewell to them). One of the biggest causes of student disruption is boredom. Ever wondered why?


A true teacher continually develops, especially their English. When a teacher shows me all their certificates from methodology courses and seminars, yeah, it's a job well done; more tools added to your toolbox. But when I see a CAE or CPE, IELTS 9, I am blown away! I even know some teachers who don't have the CPE but could sail through it. English is your product. You're not teaching methodology; you're teaching English.


When English is not your native language, nobody expects you to be perfect (although based on the previous post, you should never stop learning). But some teachers heavily rely on outdated textbooks with unnatural English often with mistakes (at the lesson). Many don't ever read or watch authentic sources in English and forever remain in limbo with regards to the development of their core language skills. Thus, such teachers continue to reinforce bad habits, mistakes, outdated forms and never double check that what they're teaching is wrong; they take it all at face value. When a good teacher continually develops, they will verify what they are learning from authentic sources and thus remain on top of their game.


Complacency is a killer. I have met many teachers who think just because they've attended a few seminars, been to London twice and that they're regularly told how much they're loved by their students, that they can't be beaten. A top teacher knows that development never ends and there's still a long way to go. Assuming that "there is always someone better than you out there," keeps a teacher on their toes, motivated, carrying out self-assessment and most importantly, down-to-earth. When a teacher has a a heightened sense of self-importance they become blinded and that knock to the ego is so much more painful.


If you ever say the following to yourself, you should take a long hard look at yourself:
- Differentiation takes too long
- Nobody cares anyway
- I'm not paid enough to give a shit about differentiation
- What's differentiation?
Many teachers fall into the trap of the "One size fits all" principle when teaching: one task (e.g. a gap fill) is given to all students with an expected uniformity in outcome. Many teachers like to sound so self-righteous when spouting, "All students are individual, they all have different learning needs, they must feel included into the learning process!" Yeah, i agree, but your lesson doesn't reflect what you just said! It is true that when starting out in teaching, learning to differentiate is a pain. But it can't be avoided. When you have mastered it, differentiation becomes second nature. We all have to go through it at some stage. 


We all have our favourite areas of teaching be it kids, adults, low levels, Business English etc. But to be able to label yourself as experienced is not indicative of possessing some certificates. It's having taught across a wide spectrum: from state to private language schools (if possible), from VYL beginners to advanced adults, from individual students with the strangest of requests (I once had to teach architecture English to an elementary student) to over-sized groups of teens who don't want to be there. Only after some time is it standard practice to specialize where you may claim the title: Relatively Experienced!


Let's face it; we know students just don't do their homework at times. Maybe they've been busy with exams, Olympiads, or maybe you as a teacher set something inappropriate. And here's where many teachers go wrong: "You MUST do your homework! You've got your exams soon! Do you want to be a tramp and live on the streets or do you want to enter university with top grades? What can studying get you? Come on! Tell me, do you want to be successful in life?" Do you really think students don't know that? Do you think constantly lecturing them will help and motivate them to care about the work even more? Have you tried maybe a different approach like trying to get to the bottom of why they don't do homework and find a compromise? Lecturing your teens like this makes them feel like inferior idiots and they may start behaving accordingly.


Let's face it, we've all had disastrous lessons more than once (I am certainly no exception) and the myriad of reasons could be; having a bad day, personal hardship, powers out, someone stole the book you wanted to plan from, you have a migraine, it was pissing down outside and you're soaking wet etc etc etc. Just anything! But a teacher who lets their complexes reign supreme will take these setbacks to heart and end up suffering burnout much sooner. A good teacher will work on their personality traits as much as their methodology and English. When suffering disastrous lessons, instead of beating themselves down, they'd be like: Why? What happened? What did I do wrong? Was the material inappropriate? Did I speak too much? Students were tired, maybe I should have used plan B? Asking yourself such questions (Introspection) and later being able to answer them shows the desire to correct those mistakes and adding Emotional Intelligence to your ever increasing toolbox. This wish to learn from crappy lessons is a very very good sign indeed. 


This is my opinion is where I draw the line. A teacher who abuses their position by using emotional blackmail should consider seeing a behavioral therapist before ever entering a classroom. Cases of this may range from soft to severe but should nevertheless be forced out of the learning environment altogether. Such examples of abuse of authority might include:
- I've been teaching for 20 years so trust me, I know what I am doing!
(Yeah, doesn't mean you've been teaching right for 20 years)
- You are young! What do you know? You know nothing!
(But you just said: At the lesson, I sat on a battery!)
- You're so stupid and useless, you can't get anything right!
(Says the teacher who's been divorced twice, lives with 5 cats who piss in her shoes)
- Oh look at Masha; she got the answers right. Why didn't you? It's simple!
(Mrs Smith is so much more attractive than you - and she's a better teacher!)
Teachers who say such things abuse their positions and display a level of Emotional Intelligence in minus figures. Such teachers have a choice: Sort yourself out or sort yourself out with another job where working with people aren't involved because such behaviour leaves scars.
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