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Seven "abilities" of highly effective teachers

Following these seven principles will help you leave a legacy in your school, community or organisation - no matter your role. If “Leadership is influence”, putting these abilities into practice will see you lead in the most meaningful ways.

A TES article recently highlighted the “Seven Deadly Sins” school staff should avoid (it’s a great read). While it’s extremely valuable to know the behaviours we ought to avoid, any psychologist or life coach will tell you it is equally - if not more - valuable to know what to aim for.

The Seven "Abilities"

1. Flexibility If you work in a school, you are already a very flexible person. While some changes can be frustrating, stay positive and look for the silver lining. It’s likely there, but sometimes you may have to embrace change before you actually enjoy the changes that have been made.

Have a “We will make it great!” attitude.

2. Teachability Being teachable means we are always open to learning new strategies, ideas, and ways of working with young people. Don’t close yourself off to new ideas because they didn’t originate from you or came from a colleague you might not expect. We are lifelong learners – always stay open to doing things differently!

3. Credibility Credibility often takes time to develop. But how? Never let loyalty and kindness leave you. Wear them around your neck (metaphorically) and regularly think about how you can implement them in every aspect of your life. By doing so you will win support and become a positive influence in your community.

4. Workability Being a teacher is not just about teaching children – it’s also about creating a healthy staff environment where children can thrive. This is developed by working respectfully with colleagues and by honouring them in front of the children - even those we would rather avoid! You may have private disagreements or ideas, but these should stay private (or "backstage" in theatre terms).

Former Disney Parks Executive Dennis Snow once wrote “Never let the backstage come on stage.”

Model the inter-personal behaviours you expect from your students. Everyone will be better for it!

5. Unflappability How do you handle emergencies, behaviour problems and other unexpected situations? Make a list of potential problems you might encounter in your school then write down how you will respond for each one. This will prepare you for a variety of eventualities.

6. Model-ability How do you want your students to behave? Do more of that!

Avoid becoming too close with the person who says “I’m just telling the truth” or “I just tell it like it is”. Statements like these say more about their negative outlook than the person or people they are talking about.

Be the very best version of yourself!

7. “Us-ability” When you stand up and address your colleagues, which pronoun do you use - we or you?

When someone uses "we" and "us" I know they are in the trenches with me and see themselves as part of the team. When someone says “You guys…”, “You need to…” or “You should…”, what they are saying is “I have it sorted already and you don’t. I am above you.

I am wary of the person who sees themselves as separate from the team they lead or are part of. Let's use pronouns that demonstrate to others that we are part of the community!


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