Something You Should Know

This month, we’ve put together an essential list of nine key mental skills that every teacher who takes their job seriously must acquire. Which ones are you missing?


Every teacher has their own unique style of instruction, though some may be better than others. If you’re having trouble on the job, try employing these nine steps to take your lessons to the next level.

1. Attitude
Successful Teachers…
• Realize that attitude is a choice. They may be having a bad morning, a bad week or a bad month, but as soon as they pass the front gate of school, they know it is up to them to decide what attitude they will bring.
• Choose an attitude that is predominately positive.
• View their profession as an opportunity to better themselves and learn from their successes and failures.

• Pursue excellence, not perfection, and realize that they, as well as their managers, students, assistants, fellow teachers, and others, are not perfect. This is especially important in China, where it is very easy to misunderstand another person’s perspective, due to the differences in cultures.
• Respect their job, managers, assistants, fellow teachers, students, students’ parents and themselves.

2. Motivation
Successful Teachers…
• Are aware of the rewards and benefits that they expect to experience through teaching.
• Are able to persist through difficult tasks and times, even when rewards and benefits are not immediately forthcoming.
• Realize that many of the benefits come from their participation, not the outcome.

3. Goal Setting
Successful Teachers…
• Set long-term and short-term goals that are realistic, measurable, and time-oriented. They do not tread water teaching ESL, while growing frustrated and fed up doing the same thing for years. They become proactive in their lives and are always looking to better themselves.
• Are aware of their current performance levels and able to develop specific, detailed plans for attaining their goals.
• Are highly committed to their goals and to carrying out the daily demands of their training programs.

4. People Skills
Successful Teachers…
• Realize that they are part of a larger system that includes their families, friends, workmates, managers and others.
• When appropriate, communicate their thoughts, feelings, and needs to these people and listen to them, as well.
• Have learned effective skills for dealing with difficult students/parents and others when there is a problem. It can be very easy for a teacher to get their guard up when parents “complain” about their performance, but a lot of times these comments are not due to parents being unreasonable or a pain in the butt, but because they do not understand what learning a foreign language entails.
• Professionally explain the difficulties of learning a foreign language and educate parents, as well.

They do not tread water teaching ESL, while growing frustrated and fed up doing the same thing for years. They become proactive in their lives and are always looking to better themselves.

5. Reflection
Successful Teachers…
• Maintain their self-confidence during difficult times with realistic, positive self-talk.
• Talk to themselves the same way they would talk to their best friend. They don’t beat themselves up if something did not go according to plan. They tweak it, or get rid of it and try again.
• Use reflection to critique their class and think about how they can improve their teaching.

6. Research Their Craft
Successful Teachers…
• Do their best to keep on top of their craft.
• Bridge the gap between theory and practice.
• Don’t always have a fixed agenda. They are flexible, fluid, experimenting and have the confidence to react and adjust to changing circumstances.


7. Class Structure
Successful Teachers…
• Plan their lessons so that the correct class structure is clear in their head
• Know that students engage in different ways and plan on how to engage all students at each step of the lesson.
• Know that they need to be entertaining, but also know that their lessons must have substance.

8. Encourage Students to Use Higher-Order Thinking Skills (HOTS)
Successful Teachers…
• Look at how they can encourage their students to move from using Lower-Order Thinking Skills (Remembering, Understanding & Applying) to using Higher-Order Thinking Skills (Analyzing, Evaluating & Creating)
• Look at how the classroom can become as student-centered as possible.
• See how they can act more as a facilitator for children to interact with each other.

9. Classroom Management
Successful Teachers…
• Have a plan to promote the development of students’ social skills and self–regulation.
• Recognize that not every approach works for every student. Students have different “triggers” that motivate them to behave.
• Use those “triggers” to better control the direction of the class.


Category Class Act