6 essential soft skills for k-12 teachers

February 1, 2018

You’ve likely heard how valuable soft skills are in addition to your classroom instructional skills.

According to MindTools, soft skills are important because, “While your technical skills may get your foot in the door, your people skills are what open most of the doors to come. Your work ethic, your attitude, your communication skills, your emotional intelligence, and a whole host of other personal attributes are the soft skills that are crucial for career success.”

Here are six soft skills that may be beneficial for K-12 teachers, along with tips and resources for developing them.

1. Leadership

Regardless of the age level of your students, it’s important for you to possess leadership skills that help you work effectively with and garner respect from students, parents, school management, and the community.

Leadership ability helps ensure that you, your colleagues, and your students are working toward clear goals and desired educational outcomes. Teachers with strong leadership skills play a large role in today’s schools. Being able to support faculty and students, both formally and informally, adds to the capacity for a school to improve. Whether a resource provider, a mentor, or an innovative visionary, leadership aptitude may help you improve student outcomes.

How to grow this skill: Dr. Doug Green and The Principal of Change offer leadership and professional development ideas and advice for educators.

2. Communication

Good communication skills are important for two reasons: to successfully deliver your education message to students, and to relay feedback to help students make progress.

Students are expected to be effective communicators, and you set an example of good communication each time you interact with parents and students. Good listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills are the signs of a successful teacher. To be sure that everyone understands your expectations, you should present materials with clarity and provide feedback effectively.

How to grow this skill: EdTech Review covers Importance, Tips and Ways of Communication Between Teacher and Student.

3. Teamwork

With the emphasis on collaborative professional learning communities, working as a group to push innovation or resolve challenges has become even more important. Teamwork in an educational setting involves parties sharing mutual goals and working together to reach them. The ability to work well in and with teams impacts your students, parents, colleagues, administrators, and other key stakeholders.

 How to grow this skill: An online professional development course like Collaborative Learning Environments can help you build techniques for effective group work. 

4. Problem Solving

Internal and external issues that arise in the classroom can negatively affect learning outcomes. Whether it’s deescalating a conflict or working through a life problem that is getting in the way of a student’s learning, you should be prepared to take on challenges and know how to best approach the situation.

How to grow this skill: One of the best ways to learn is to teach. Problem-based learning has become a popular method of instruction. 

5. Social and Emotional Intelligence

Edutopia describes social and emotional learning (SEL) as the foundation for safe and positive learning in increasingly multicultural and multilingual education systems. You should be prepared to teach and practice social and emotional skills, give your students opportunities to practice these skills, and help your students apply these skills in other scenarios.

How to grow this skill: Edutopia describes 5 key SEL skills for teachers and learning in the classroom.

6. Cultural Competence

Cultural competence is the ability to understand, relate to, and effectively educate across cultures and demographics.

It’s important for educators to welcome diverse voices into your classroom. You don’t have to understand and know all cultures, but be willing to let the students teach you. It’s the diversity in a room that creates a space where students can learn about empathy, acceptance, and tolerance by experiencing it.

How to grow this skill: Edutopia provides a cultural competence test for teachers, in addition to tips for providing a culturally responsive classroom.

Many soft skills, including communication and teamwork, can be learned through online education degree programs.

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