Five in-demand teaching skills for 2023

Five in-demand teaching skills for 2023


The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) has recently conducted a wide range survey to find out about the challenges and aspirations of Further Education (FE) teachers, support staff and managers.  The survey revealed that making a positive difference in the lives of young people is the most rewarding aspect of people’s jobs.

FE staff members however experience a range of challenges such as lack of funding, a growing number of administrative tasks, challenging student behaviour and increasing targets to reach, just to mention a few.

In the following article, I shall explore some essential soft skills to help you navigate more successfully in the fast-changing world of the Further Education sector.

Resilience: Having resilience means being able to cope with whatever life throws at you. Although resilient people do experience difficult emotions, they are able to bounce back quickly from setbacks. They are able to express their feelings and ask for help if needed. As an FE teacher, you might have difficult students in your class and they might challenge your teaching approach. You might need to meet competing deadlines and face pressures to align with targets.

The 2021 Teacher Wellbeing Index highlighted that stress, depression and anxiety have increased among FE teachers over the recent years. Resilience can however be developed. An article written by Rich Fernandez in the Harvard Business review suggests that taking ‘detachment breaks’ from work helps people maintain their emotional well-being. Clear mental focus can last up to 90 minutes. Taking regular breaks from work is a simple step we can all take to recharge and maintain our mental focus.

According to a recently published article: ‘A major point in learning resilience is to take a perspective on things. In moments of stress, it might be useful to place your individual situation into a bigger context and grasp on its real severity, or the lack thereof.’

Talking through difficult feelings can help you develop a new perspective on challenges and see situations more clearly. Education Support offers 1-2-1 counselling for FE staff to help manage some of their concerns.

Creativity: According to an article called ‘Eight Steps to Becoming a More Creative Teacher’, teachers can take practical steps to develop their creativity in the classroom. They can continuously develop their skills via training courses, books, online resources and sharing knowledge with colleagues. The above article suggests that ‘Creative teachers bring more to class than just a knowledge of teaching. They are educated in other areas and can draw on their experiences and outside interests.’

The American Psychological Associate suggests that we should use so-called ‘Da Vinci’ notebooks. The idea is based on Leonardo Da Vinci’s practice which filled over 7,000 notebook pages with questions, ideas and calculations. Why not get yourself a notebook and write down anything that sparks your interest? Make a note of your observations, insights, burning questions and inspirational quotes. You could even encourage your students to try this practice.

Critical thinking: Critical thinking is an essential skill in the workplace. It means not taking things at face value. Critical thinkers are able to look at things from multiple angles and ask searching questions. It does not simply mean highlighting the negatives, the threats and the challenges. It is about being able to notice the advantages and the disadvantages of approaches and making an objective judgment based on our observations.

Sue has worked as an FE teacher for over two decades. She has been teaching English in a large College which is based in the South of England.  She has a real passion for teaching and inspiring young people. Over the years, she has had some slightly challenging students. However, Sue is particularly skilled at noticing her students’ strengths. Although a student may at times appear challenging, she has learnt to focus on the student’s strengths as well as improvements they could make. Sue believes that each of her students can achieve good academic results regardless of their current situation.

Problem-solving: According to an article published on Brown University’s website, ‘problem-solving is a goal-oriented process that includes creating and manipulating problems as mental models.’ You might face some challenging situations such as managing classroom behaviour, meeting deadlines or having difficult conversations with colleagues. The following tips might help you to further develop your problem-solving skills:

Avoid the temptation to come to a solution quickly. The more difficult the problem, the more you might need to develop a balanced perspective. You could spend some time asking searching questions, speaking with others, and gathering as much information as possible. Go for a walk or engage in a creative activity. Reframe the way you think about the challenge. Ask yourself:

‘What is good about this situation?’

‘How could this help me develop professionally?’

‘To what extent would this situation matter in 1 year?’

Organisation: Organisation is an essential skill for FE teachers. The more organised you become, the more you could feel in control in your classroom. You could try the following techniques to develop your organisational skills:

Have a backup lesson plan: Make sure that you have a Plan B for your classroom lessons. If you have planned to deliver your classes using online technologies, do think in advance about how you could handle unforeseen technological issues.

Spring clean your files: You might like to ‘spring clean’ your electronic files regularly. Do schedule a 30-minute tidying session every month to keep on top of your computer. Do also look at your hard copy notes and make sure that you keep any sensitive information locked away (for confidentiality reasons). Also, do not forget to clear your e-mail boxes. Do unsubscribe from any irrelevant e-mail lists, and file or delete any e-mails you no longer need.

Write it down: Try not to hold your to-do list in your head. Create a list of tasks at the end of your day for the following day. You could write these down using a pen and a notebook. Writing things down by hand will help you to remember your tasks.

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