How Soft are Soft Skills? – II
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You had planned and prepared a session for one hour, but in between the student asked many questions and the whole lesson plan got disturbed. Unfortunately, you were not ready with a backup plan. Exactly the opposite of this also might happen. In such a situation, not your academic skills, but adaptability which is an essential soft skill, can help you out. A skillful teacher will always be ready with activities which serve as ice breakers or time-fillers in case the lesson is wrapped up faster than she anticipated or even as part of the lesson.
Online teaching connects all geographies of the world in one string. Both you and your students will often be fascinated by each other’s cultural heritage and practices. In this universal scenario, the most wanted soft skill is building cultural awareness and competence that establish a mutual understanding and respect between you and your students. It opens up a fantastic opportunity for you to learn about their local habits, cuisine, places of interest, history, events, etc. even without visiting their place.
Leadership quality is a major skill of a teacher in order to earn the respect of their students, parents, and peers. The renowned philosopher and politician, Niccolo Machiavelli, has shared a thought if it is better for a leader to be feared or loved. The modern classroom approaches indicate that there needs to be a healthy balance between the two.
Dr. Todd Whitaker, a US Professor of Educational Leadership, found that “accurate self-reflection and awareness of how one is perceived by others are the most important skills of effective teachers.” According to him, it is not about knowledge, degrees, or experience, but “instead it is about what they do, especially people skills, consistently. Great teachers know their students and connect with them.” To put it simply, knowing your students is as important as knowing your subject.
In the past, the foundational skills that distinguished effective teachers were classroom organization and curriculum. Today, the situation has changed and more focus was given to the quality of the teacher-student relationship. Simply speaking, today’s students care more about how they are treated than how they are taught. Successful teachers need to be caring and should target the success of each and every student entrusted with them. There is no doubt that the foundational skills required of today’s effective teachers are soft skills.
You may be a subject matter expert in your area of teaching, but to become successful your soft skills need to be perfectly honed. These skills cannot be taught from a book, but can only be experienced. Soft skills include communication, adaptability, cultural awareness, leadership, critical thinking, passion, and many more. A great teacher of today should be the embodiment of all of these qualities to bring the most memorable experience to the students.