One special teacher can make a student feel inspired, as though he can do anything in the world if he sets his mind to it. Unfortunately, this student may enter another teacher’s class with a sense of overarching dread. One teacher can make a spirit soar while the other seems destined to destroy. The difference between the two teachers is soft skills.
Depending on whom you ask, soft skills are loosely defined as people skills. Kate Lorenz, an editor for CareerBuilder.com says that soft skills “refer to a cluster of personal qualities, habits, attitudes and social graces that make someone a good employee and compatible to work with.” The most important of these skills are Professionalism/Work Ethic, Oral and Written Communications, Teamwork/Collaboration and Critical Thinking/Problem Solving. These are the very skills educators seek to impart to their students.
On any average day, teachers work with a variety of people. Soft skills translate into the ability to successfully navigate the needs of those individuals. A teacher must use her oral and written communication skills every day to effectively pass on information to her students. A teacher uses teamwork and collaboration at any school-wide function, including faculty meetings. Without critical thinking and problem solving skills, the teacher cannot effectively manage classroom behavior or student progress.
A successful teacher will find that his voice and vocabulary do the marvels which no other device can do. Another important thing to mull over is his attitude which comprises proper planning and zeal to stir sensations in the classroom. A teacher has to adapt according to the situations; he has to bring in himself a proper blend of rigidity and flexibility allowing him to create humor at times to drive away the monologue. One should be wary enough not to hurt anyone’s cultural and religious beliefs. Challenging though such things are, they are not devoid of satisfaction if practiced earnestly. If teachers remain aware of the importance of such soft skills in teaching, it not only will establish proper rapport between the teacher and the taught but also ensure our competence and bring admiration.
Teachers have various roles. The main role is the content expert. However, this role alone is not sufficient to describe the work of teachers. Teachers are also consultants, managers, motivators, and counselors. Teachers are also decision makers. Each teacher has to engage in an ongoing series of decision-making. The areas are planning decisions, teaching and managing decisions, and assessment decisions.
Educational institutions are looking for various soft skills in teachers, besides technical competence and work experience. The twenty-first century workplace does not require teachers who are “walking encyclopedias” but rather self-reliant and resilient individuals who are achievement-oriented with high self-esteem; persuasive and effective communicators; emotionally intelligent; good problem solvers and decision makers with analytical and creative minds; fast and lifelong learners; good team players; and ethical with a high standard of integrity (morally intelligent).
For teachers, the ability to use effective soft skills can make or break a career. While it may seem obvious that such skills would factor importantly in a classroom, soft skills are also paramount when working with parents, administration and other teachers.
Author: Ajit K Singh has a Masters in Economics from Delhi University. Among his varied interests he has a passion for Philosophy, Psychology, Soft Skills and related subjects. Following the family tradition, he got commissioned in the Indian Air Force as an Administrative Officer. He specialized in selection of Officers for commissioning, having done a course in the Defence Institute of Psychological Research, Delhi. Post retirement he researched and became a trainer in Soft Skills and Emotional Intelligence, including Life Skills. He is an avid writer and occasional poet.
The Pygmalion Effect
In a famous study by psychologist Robert Rosenthall, primary school teachers were told that certain students in their class had been identified as intellectually gifted, however they were classed as ‘late bloomers’ who were not yet actively demonstrating the full effects of the giftedness they had been assessed as having.
The researchers found that as a result of this thought being planted in their mind, the teachers began showing slight positive differences in the way they treated those children. Interestingly, this lead to the students perception of themselves becoming more positive as well. As a result, those specific students started behaving in accordance with those beliefs, and began performing above the level of the other children in the class.
The catch was of course, that those children had not been identified as gifted at all. Their teacher was simply told that they were.
This study was famous for showing how the expectations of a student’s teachers affect the students’ performance, and is known as the Pygmalion effect. The opposite of the Pygmalion effect is known as the Golem effect, where student’s performance is impaired when their teachers hold negative expectations about them.
The bottom line is that for a young learner to become good at something, part of them has to believe that they are good at that thing, and that part will be heavily influenced by the way their role models perceive them. This is why it is so important for us as agents of change to not just plant positive seeds in the mind of our students, but to plant positive seeds in the minds of their parents and even their teachers to make the Pygmalion effect work to our advantage.
Positive Expectations vs High Expectations
Whilst the term positive expectations and high expectations can be used interchangeably, it is important to differentiate them.
Think of positive expectations as the ability to see the ‘glass is half full’ in every situation. That is, any negative effects are allowed to blur into the background, whilst positive outcomes are pulled strongly into the foreground and focused on most sharply.
High expectations on the other hand will only be effective if they are high enough to push the student beyond their comfort zone, but low enough to be realistically reachable. If the high expectations become unrealistic, then they essentially set the student up to fail, resulting in various negative consequences.
The Link Between Performance and Self Esteem.
If your student’s parents want a tutor, it is safe to assume that they want their child to do better at school. If the parent feels dissatisfied with their child’s performance (or their own ability to improve their child’s performance as is often the case) then there is a good chance that their dissatisfaction will be affecting the child’s self esteem, and their self-esteem will be affecting their performance.
Whilst it may sound strange, if all you did was walk into the home, click your fingers, put the parent into a trance and hypnotised them into believing that their child was doing fantastically, then that alone would have a drastic impact. When the parents starts to believe in the students strengths, those beliefs will overflow unconsciously onto the student, which will raise their self esteem, therefore cutting the demotivating chain holding them back.
Whilst we don’t expect you to learn hypnotic induction techniques, hopefully by now you can see how important it is to positively impact the parent’s perception of their child’s scholastic strengths, to indirectly impact the child’s perception of their own strengths.
How Can Your Impact A Parents Perception?
You might now start to see why it is so important to spend at least a couple of minutes giving verbal feedback about the students progress to the parents at the end of each lesson, especially if it involves praising their progress to the parents in front of the child.
In order for your words of praise to have the right impact however it is crucial that you have established yourself as a expert authority figure by showing certainty as well as establishing a strong, trusting rapport. Showing certainty without rapport may make you come across as arrogant whilst having rapport without authority might mean that the parents, whilst liking you, may not ‘look up to you’ or follow your lead.
Once you have both an authoritative presence as well as rapport, you gain the power to alter someone’s perception. If you establish both these psychological factors whilst directing the parents focus heavily towards the students strengths, progress and autonomy, you will quickly see remarkable changes occur faster than you had every imagined possible.
Writing To The Teacher
If you are working as a home tutor, a powerful strategy is to keen in touch with your students teachers at school. Whilst writing to the teacher both helps to keep you up to date with what the student is doing in class (assuming they right back) and helps promote your image to the parents as their own personal advocate, it also serves another purpose. It allows you the opportunity to plant positive seeds of thought into the teachers mind as well about the student’s progress, thus allowing the Pygmalion effect to work on both parents and teachers.
If the teacher starts to notice the student being more active in class, showing signs of initiative or even just a generally brighter attitude, then this is likely to favourably affect the way the teacher treats the student, even if unconsciously. If the teacher does notice this more (which they are more likely to do if you plant positive seeds of thought into their minds) and they mention these observations to the parents, it will only further give more momentum to the entire positive process. Thus the pygmalion effect works best if it affects parents and teachers at the same time.
For more information about how to use the most powerful psychological effects when acting as an agent of change for your students, see the Top of the Class Tutoring website.
Despite all teachers considering themselves objective, the reality is that the way a teacher perceives their student will affect the way the student perceives themselves. To avoid students falling into the Golem effect trap, it is therefore important that teachers view their students in the most positive light in order to make the Pygmalion effect work to their advantage.
By Stuart J Adams
One of the reasons that it was so difficult to get children to learn to read in the past was because it was hard to develop functional lessons that were applicable to real-life situations. For example, reading a story about a duck was helpful, but it was not always something that kids could readily apply to what was going on around them. As the Internet and other technology continues to advance, it is becoming easier to teach children to read in ways that they will be able to use in their daily lives.
The progressive parents have stopped fighting with video games and have realized that video games can be a great way to help kids to learn to read at almost any level. Interactive video games that teach reading skills are available all over the Internet and can be used by children at every level of aptitude. If you want your kids to learn to read, then utilizing a video game can be the most effective way to do it.
The interactive video games that connect people all over the world can help children to learn to read in several different ways. Kids want to play those games. But if they want to play, then they will have to learn how to read. Their friends are already playing online interactive video games and no kid wants to be left behind when it comes to the popular games everyone is playing. The games also require people to chat back and forth using the written word. Not only can your kids learn to read by playing video games, but they can also learn sentence structure and good grammar as well.
Another way that technology is helping kids to learn to read is by offering new reading courses for kids at all levels that can be easily manipulated to help the child learn at his pace. In a classroom setting, there can be pressure that may leave behind some of the kids that cannot keep up the same pace as everyone else. But when the child gets home, he can stop a DVD reading lesson and review it at his own pace. Now every kid has the chance to learn to read thanks to technology that was not available just 20 years ago.
Because there are so many technology tools to help children read, that allows the parents to find the time to get involved in their kids’ lessons as well. The portability of technology means that parents and kids can be in the same room reviewing a reading lesson for the day while the parent does his own work tasks on the Internet as well.
Technology continues to bring breakthroughs in ways that allow us to become more interactive with the world around us. By channeling reading into video games, interactive DVDs and other materials, educators can help kids start to read at ages that may have been impossible in the past. If the child wants to learn, then there is nothing to stop him.
Author: Cookie Maxwell MyReviewsNow.net offers information regarding phonics activities. For more on teaching children to read, please shop online with us at MyReviewsNow.net.