Teaching skills

Teaching Skills is an amalgam of Knowledge, art, creativity and science. It can be mainly categorised into two:

  • Verbal Teaching Skills
  • Non-verbal Teaching skills

Any type of behaviour or acts performed with the objective and intension to facilitate a student’s learning process can be called as Teaching skills.

While some of these skills come naturally to the teachers, most of them are acquired by them through training, research and experience.

Dr. B K Passi in his book describe the following 13 teaching skills as the most important and vital set of skills.

  • Writing instructional objectives
  • Introducing a lesson
  • Fluency in questioning
  • Probing questions
  • Explaining
  • Illustrating with examples
  • Stimulus variations
  • Silent and non-verbal cues
  • Reinforcement
  • Increasing student participation
  • Using the black board
  • Achieving closure
  • Achieving closure

Although all these 13 teaching skills are important and need to be practiced, a teacher can use only a few of the teaching skills at a time depending on the type and age group of students they are dealing with.Though a teacher uses only a few of these teaching skills, the knowledge about all of them helps the teachers to evaluate their own strengths and weaknesses and perform better as a teacher in a classroom environment.

As a teacher, having the right teaching skills is very important. One of them is the skill of reinforcement. They should know how and when to appreciate the learners. Learners, especially in their early stages seek for social approval of their behaviour.

Appreciation for a correct behaviour or response will encourage the learners to put in more efforts to come forward with more correct responses and improved behaviour. This will not only help the learners channelise their efforts in the right direction, it’ll also increase their participation.

Both verbal and non-verbal cues can be used to encourage a learner. Appreciating using phrases like Excellent, keep going, well done etc are some examples of reinforcing through verbal cues. Even non-verbal cues like a friendly smile, pat on the shoulder, nodding your head to encourage then to continue has also been proven as effective methods of reinforcement.

Another major teaching skill that has been proven most effective is the skill of Illustrating with examples.

When relatable examples specific to the concepts are given, a first-hand experience is created for the learner and the concept is itched in the memory for a long time. It also helps in pacing up the teaching process.

The most important teaching skill is the skill of explanation. For this, it is very important that the teacher should be very confident with the concept regarding their subject of teaching or discussion. Only when the teacher has clarity can they explain the concepts clearly to the students/ learners. This confidence can be achieved by immense research and regular practice. Simplicity is the key while explaining concepts to the learners. Making an eye contact, using visual aids and sharing related and relatable personal experiences brings the explanation alive.

The teachers having an understanding of the concepts is one thing and them trying to explain this to the students is a completely different ball game. Teachers need to use verbal and non-verbal cues, narrative techniques and planned repetitions where ever necessary while explaining a concept to the students. Constant evaluation and probing helps the teachers in understanding how successful they have been in explaining. Teachers should be open to adapt a non-rehearsed and non-anticipated different path and methodology while explaining, depending on the understanding capacity of the students.

In lay man terms, explaining of a concept means to answer the three vital question ‘Why?’ , ‘How?’ and ‘What?’.

The most effective way of explaining is by keeping it simple, clear, precise and interesting. This teaching skill requires sensitive planning. Though answering questions is a vital aspect of explaining, the teachers should know the differentiate between the necessary and unnecessary questions.

By obtaining information from the students beforehand regarding their knowledge, experience and interest regarding the concept, the task of explaining can be planned better.

The art of questioning is a very important teaching skill especially for teachers dealing with the primary classes. Asking the right questions at the right time doesn’t only keep the students engaged, it also helps in achieving the primary objective which is, retention of the concept in the minds of the learner.

The teachers should keep in mind that the purpose of asking questions should always be to encourage students and not to demotivate them. Quality of the questions are more important than the quantity. Questions also help teachers in gazing how effective has the teaching been amongst the students.

Formation of good questions is not an easy task. It can be achieved only by conscious and repeated efforts.

It is not sufficient if the teachers know just how to ask the right questions because not always does the right questions from the teachers fetch right answers from the learners. There are many chances where the students may not understand the questions, they might not give the right answers or give incomplete answers as well. This is where the Teaching Skill Probing plays a vital role. To achieve the teacher’s goal of getting the correct answers from the students for the question asked, they should know to probe the students in the correct direction. This includes asking many sub questions related to the main question, taking in various supportive questions from the students and creating curiosity amongst the students.

Teachers are challenged with a variety of problems on daily basis, often under a tight deadline. They have to answer difficult questions from students on the spot, solve conflicts between students, revise lesson plans and deal with other work place challenges. A good teacher handles all these issues by proper utilisation of resources and resolves them quickly and effectively.

Enthusiasm though not technically considered as a teaching skill, is key when teaching a subject in order to keep the students engaged and enthusiastic themselves. Being creative while planning and presenting a concept is integral to keeping students’ attention. When doing so, it is important to understand that what works for one student won’t necessarily work for others.

Teachers need to have immense patience, particularly when dealing with difficult learners. They often have to explain concepts multiple times and manage students who have difficulty in blending with others in the classroom. Teachers need to keep in mind that ‘The more teachers differentiate the students, the learners ecology will be more vertical and The more support teachers provide, the learners ecology will be more horizontal.’

Strong interpersonal skills is what differentiates an average teacher from a successful one. A teacher’s main aim should be inclined towards helping others and create warm relationships that, in turn it boosts the learning interest of the student. A pleasant teacher with an engaging personality makes students more enthusiastic and attentive. It also makes the teachers easily approachable while helps them in identifying students that may have learning difficulties or other disabilities that need special attention.

A challenge that many teachers face is to keep the students attentive and engaged in the classroom. Creativity is the teaching skill that’ll help the teachers in overcoming this problem. Teachers need to be extremely creative to keep the attention of the students intact.

Having said all this, teachers should understand that the teaching skills is a very dynamic concept. Teachings skills that were effective a decade ago may prove to be insufficient while teaching the current set of students. Constant updation of their teaching skills is what makes a teacher be successful in the long run. Teaching skills ,subject knowledge and confidence are definitely very important. Beyond all this, the passion of the person not only to teach but also to spend quality time with the learners is what that makes them the most successful teacher. Right passion with the correct teaching skills can shape the next generation in a way that the entire country will not only benefit from them but will also be very proud of their achievements in their respective fields.