While studying hard can prepare you to be a good teacher, there are several inherent characteristics that make you a great preschool teacher. For example, you can learn how to effectively teach preschool curriculum and create a welcoming classroom, but showing enthusiasm for your students’ education needs to come from the heart.
Here are five important characteristics to be an awesome preschool teacher:
If you have a burning desire to make a real difference in the lives of young children, you have one of the most important qualities of a great preschool teacher. There will be many days when teaching feels extra difficult. Whether the pay seems too low or the parents act ungrateful, getting through the low points of teaching can be overwhelming. However, when you have a true passion for educating young children, your positive drive will sustain you through the hard times.
Along with an undying passion for teaching, great preschool educators need plenty of patience. Every class has students with different developmental skills. Especially with young children, constant reminders about manners, hygiene and classroom procedures are part of a typical school day. From slow learners to behavioral challenges, it takes patience to keep the classroom environment balanced and in order. On top of that, working with demanding administrators, difficult parents or other teachers requires additional patience outside the classroom. Great preschool teachers understand how to keep their cool under many different kinds of pressure.
Creativity in the classroom is more than making fun art projects for your students. For instance, you may be asked to teach with limited resources or in a restricted environment. Your class may also require creativity on your part to teach children from different cultures or backgrounds. You may also need to draw from your creative side to take risks and make decisions outside the norm in the best interest of your students. Of course, creativity is essential to make learning fun and exciting for your preschool class.
You can everything planned out for each lesson, but great preschool teachers know that unexpected turns can happen at any time. When you remain flexible to deal with change, you can handle almost anything. This could include something as simple as having an alternative plan for rainy days or more drastic like adjusting your entire curriculum to accommodate for a reduced budget. Even the very nature of teaching young children requires constant fine tuning and dealing with minor issues. By staying flexible, you can tackle every kind of educational challenge with poise and grace.
Great preschool teachers are dedicated to their students and their career. When you are determined to stand up for your beliefs on behalf of your educational values or your students’ needs, you will gain respect from your colleagues, parents and students. Moreover, excellent educators are dedicated to the love of learning and inspire their students to learn more. At the preschool level, making the classroom a place where learning is fun can resonate with children for the rest of their lives. Most of all, truly successful teachers are dedicated to bring out the best in their students.
Even with these five characteristics, it is important to be part of a supportive teaching community as well. Many preschool teachers find further inspiration by belonging to professional associations such as the National Association for the Education of Young People. You can visit their website for more information.
Overall, great preschool teachers continue to work on their craft as well as their own personal development to become better every year.
When interviewing for a preschool teacher position, you really want to do everything you can to show the interviewer you can provide a fun and educational environment for preschoolers. While you should always be prepared for common job interview questions, there are a few teacher-specific questions that you’ll want to make sure you have practiced before hand.
Why did you select teaching preschool as a career?
Being a preschool teacher requires a true love for the field and working with kids. The interviewer is ensuring these are traits you possess.
"Growing up I was the oldest of six brothers and sisters. Helping my mother to care for them gave me the skills to be a nurturer. I worked as a babysitter and in various child care centers before I became a teacher. I always found myself drawn to similar jobs. I developed a passion for working with kids and found I was quite skilled at it."
What defines success for you as a preschool teacher?
Children in their formative years require more out of a teacher than others. The interviewer wants to find out if you have any goals or takeaways for your preschoolers.
"I have a few goals I aim to achieve that allow me to measure my success as well. First, my overall objective is to instill a positive attitude towards education. Second, I strive to build independence and confidence in my preschoolers so that they use their full potential. Lastly, I teach my students to celebrate their differences and interact positively with one another. If they walk away with at least a little of each aspect, then I feel as though I have succeeded in my role."
How do you handle a behavioral problem in the classroom?
As a preschool teacher, you must be prepared for children that will misbehave. Explain to the interviewer how you would handle such a situation.
"Preschoolers are on the learning curve of distinguishing between right and wrong so I feel as though light reprimandation is adequate. As their teacher, it is my job to inform and help guide them. If a behavioral problem does arise, I typically put the child in time out. It's extremely crucial that parents are on board with my route of disciplinary action . Also, time out gives the child the opportunity to calm down and reflect on his or her misbehavior. After about five or so minutes, I would have a one-on-one discussion with the child about why they were removed from the group and how to make a better choice next time around."
How do you handle working with children of different age groups?
Most likely as a preschool teacher you will be working with students from ages three to five. The interviewer wants to make sure your curriculum will be relevant to the entire range of age groups.
"The most important thing I keep in mind when working with children of different age groups is to keep each child engaged and mentally stimulated. Everyone must have equal attention because often if a child feels neglected they will start to act out. All students physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs should be met and further developed. I make sure to keep a diverse curriculum that is specified and beneficial to each age. I develop cross-age activities as well."
What strategies do you use to encourage children to work in groups?
Group work allows students to interact and stay engaged. The interviewer is inquiring how you go about incorporating that into the classroom.
"I have a few strategies I use to encourage my preschoolers to work in groups. I am adamant about sticking to hands-on activities only, which are more likely to turn into a group activities versus individual work. Also, I like to take activities that can be done on an individual basis and turn them into group work. For example, in my previous position instead of having each student draw a separate picture, I allowed them all to work on a collaborative mural that hung on our wall for the remainder of the year. It encouraged team work and open communication among the students."