February 16, 2015

Essential skills for teachers and trainers

Like any activity in life, teaching or training adults comes with its own set of challenges, and to overcome these you’ll need to make sure that you are equipped with the right skills to deal with them.

Organising and teaching a course isn’t a case of just showing up and effortlessly turning out interesting, engaging and useful lessons. Of course good teachers make it look effortless, but in fact they are deploying a range of teaching skills – all of which you too can learn and put into practice.

Essential Skills

Planning – planning your course, lesson, training session or staff induction is a definite skill in its own right. Indeed planning is so important that it features as a major component of all adult teacher training courses, right from the entry level AET (Award in Education and Training) right up to the Level 5 Diploma.  To plan your teaching properly you’ll need to start by clearly and logically laying out what you need the learners to achieve by the end of their training, i.e. what they are actually going to be able to do, know, demonstrate or understand following your contact with them. This will give you a clear idea of what you will be working towards while you are teaching.
You’ll then need to consider the time and resources you have available to get the class to achieve these things – as these are the limitations you will plan around.  A clearly structured lesson plan will give you a good guide as to which areas or topics you will cover as well as guide you through the different teaching methods you will use.  Think of your lesson plan as map showing your route, good planning skills make your teaching a smooth and enjoyable journey for both you and your learners.

Timing – like stand-up comedy, dinner party anecdotes and TV news bulletins, all good teaching and training depends on good timing.  Your pre-course planning will help you with this, but on the day itself as you are facing your pupils, guiding, helping and enthusing them you will need to keep your mind on the time.  You will of course be aiming to fit in your lesson to the time available without rushing, cutting corners or just plain running out of time. As well as this you will see that the skills of a good teacher include ensuring that the different class activates that you have planned get completed within the time available. On top of this you’ll need to ensure that questions and requests from your group don’t delay your overall progress as time goes by.

Presentation – people regularly mention presentation skills when talking about teacher training, and these certainly have their importance in the great scheme of things.  Your role as a trainer is to impart knowledge, skills, ability and information to your learners, so your interaction with them is a vital part of their learning process.  The presentation skills that really count here are not slick PowerPoint slides, fancy clothes or witty comments.  What really makes the difference is smoothly and confidently delivering your lessons in a straightforward and clear manner.  Remember there is nothing wrong with referring to notes, prompt cards or a computer screen as you progress through a training session, as long as you are not dithering and appearing uncertain.  Confidence, clarity of speech, approachability and a logical progression from one topic to another are very important. Presentation skills like these can be learnt, practised and perfected as you gain experience.

Essential teaching skills are covered on our range of teacher training courses.

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