Teachers are one of the cornerstones of a school, the professionals who support and help students throughout their entire time at school.
“A teacher is someone who makes their disciples reflect and think for themselves, investigate, argue, question, try, doubt and unfurl the wings of their spirit insofar as they are able, breaking the moulds of the sectarian spirit.”
Francisco Giner de los Ríos
Nothing can be left to chance or improvisation in this highly valuable task. Education is an art and vocation is a fundamental and essential value in the work of teachers.
The essential attitudes and skills of a good teacher:
The vital work carried out by teachers must be based on a strong conviction — a teacher-observer who can see beyond students’ words, who is able to adapt to any situation or context that comes up in the classroom, who knows how to listen and build bridges so that they can support students with authority, but without imposing themselves, where dialogue is a regular and essential practise. A good teacher observes and listens to students and families alike, so they can truly know and do not just assume how students are developing academically, emotionally, socially and personally. Fluid communication with other teachers is another essential part of this guidance and observation.
Students are and must be the focus of learning beyond the curriculum, as they do not receive content but create knowledge. A comprehensive education must help students develop their skills and respect their pace of learning, as well as meet their knowledge needs and encourage their natural desire to investigate and learn in order to satiate their innate curiosity.
As Gianni Rodari explained, “An educational programme should not be a list of things that we want to gain from children, but a list of things that we must do to be useful to children.”
Teachers are facilitators that capture their students in a web of learning as a story teller. They master language and encourage students to develop an investigative spirit so they want to find out more and ask questions, as they turn educational content into the spark that lights up students’ curiosity and awe.
Therefore, teachers must establish the appropriate conditions for this development without passing on their personal ideology, while also ensuring that they remain neutral and opaque as regards their own convictions to avoid guiding students towards a specific, trite and closed place. They must give students the tools and resources they need to find their own well-founded answers.
This process of supporting students is based on a series of underlying values as teachers set an example for students, not so much with their words but with their actions. These values include respect for oneself and others; responsible, honest and judicious freedom; the desire to improve, take on challenges and work rigorously; the flexibility to listen to and understand others; and a calm mindset to make the right decisions.
Continuous training for teachers:
To ensure that teachers are able to successfully carry out such an important task and look forward to the start of each school year, another essential ingredient is teacher training. Centres from the Best Schools in Spain network believe that this is a fundamental investment and commitment that is strongly connected to the values we aim to pass on to students. This training must deal with aspects specific to the subject that they teach and new methodologies or educational tools to guide students with high standards, professionalism and the adequate resources. This continuous training could deal with students’ evolutionary and psychological development, their space, time, context and problems, or with aspects that encourage teachers’ well-being and development.
All of these aspects are connected to the ethics of duty and expertise, thus adjusting teachers’ outlook so they are willing to learn alongside students in the essential task of education.
The profile of a teacher
Education is an art and vocation plays a fundamental and essential role.