The purpose of this article was to get the characteristics of an effective childhood teacher. This was based on a survey that was done among members of the profession, rather than the conventional method used where researchers look at this topic from a professionals point of view, rather than the practitioners. The author begins by noting that the previous literature on the subject has had varying results from those taken from other sources chiefly because the author had decided to take a different approach (getting information from the practitioner rather than the researchers ideal point of view). As a result, the study concludes by showing twelve characteristics that childhood teachers themselves noted as important to their teaching practice; some of them were already known by previous research, others became apparent only after the research.
The author notes that the importance of his work is because other literature have proved insufficient mainly only three points. First, most literature mistake teacher abilities with characteristics. As a result, some literature will have the main aspects of the teaching profession as having good command of the subject matter and the classroom, asking inquisitive questions and being organized. However, these are abilities that every teacher has (or can be taught in school) but dont echo specific characteristics necessary to the profession. Furthermore, the existing literature fails to cater for teachers within early childhood education systems as many of the existing criteria were developed with higher education in mind (Ros-Voseles & Fowler-Haughey, 2007). In other instances, most of these literature contain information from teacher educators on what they consider to be the ideal set of characteristics that the teacher should have, rather than the point of view of the teachers themselves. While teacher educators may have some idea of what a characteristics a teacher should possess, they only scratch at the surface and dont have real-time experience with dealing with children. Information from such sources thus becomes one to be taken with a pinch of salt, especially when focusing on the place of childhood teachers.
This provides the basis upon which the research was now conducted among 43 long-time practitioners in childhood education in order to determine the 12 characteristics that made an effective childhood teacher. The first such characteristic was passion, which meant a drive on the individual to pursue this particular career. In other words, this is not a job for one who is simply just looking for a money-making venture and thinks hanging out with children is fun. Following closely after this is perseverance. This could equally be interpreted as dedication to the cause to fight for the interests of the children and their beliefs with regards to how they should learn.
Two seemingly opposing characteristics came in third and fourth respectively namely: risk-taking and pragmatism. The teacher should be able to take a risk for what they know would be the best step to take in order to improve the quality of education to the children. The example is given of a now successful program that was at first greeted with a lot of skepticism by the management but had to be strongly advocated for (Villa & Colker, 2006). At the same time, the teacher must know when it is appropriate to settle for less because even small wins are important to the overall improvement of the working of the system. This is the pragmatic point of view from which the teacher should operate.
The teacher would also possess the quality of patience especially when considering that children may need constant repetition of instructions given to them. Coupled with this is the virtue of flexibility which is extremely important. Teachers often face some setbacks that need one who is thinking on their feet to find an alternative and engage the children. In other instances, teachers may find themselves at places of disadvantage, but this doesnt mean that the job doesnt go on. As a result, flexibility becomes a key characteristic for any teacher.
Creating the atmosphere of respect is also a key factor in the ministry of a teacher. Because children may be from different demographic backgrounds, it is important the teacher be able to foster a culture of respect within the classroom scenario so that there is acceptance of diversity within the learning environment. To go with this is creativity. With children from different backgrounds, it means that children will have different capabilities to understand concepts taught to them as well as other differences. Creativity ensures that one can handle these differences and still provide special attention to each child in the way that they deserve.
Authenticity, that is knowing what you stand for, the love of learning and high energy are the other characteristics that ensure that the teacher is effective. Children often follow examples set for them and they will respond with energy when their instructor shows this energy. Equally, they will sense ones character and note the love for learning which their teacher displays and also imitate this. Finally, the teacher needs to have a sense of humor. A little fun in the learning process wont hurt it will actually increase the rate of learning for the students.
This paper is relevant to the teaching profession in that it provides a specific categorization of childhood teachers and shows them some of the characteristics that are helpful. As a teacher, one could have them or acquire them in order to ensure their effectiveness. That trust that is given to them by parents thus pays off.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Ros-Voseles, D. D., & Fowler-Haughey, S. (2007). The role of dispositions in the education of future teachers. Young Children, 90-98.
Villa, K., & Colker, J. (2006). A personal story: making inclusion work. Young Children, 96-100.
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