“Acharya Devo Bhava”, in Sanskrit, equates teacher to God. A great teacher can influence students through their teaching and like a lighthouse, provide a beacon and guide curiously wandering souls. Only a good teacher knows the difference between teaching content and teaching thought and helping students play with complex ideas. As the importance of educating people increases, so does the essence of teaching and being a teacher.
The role of a STEM Teacher
When it comes to STEM education, it is not just theoretical education. It involves experiential learning where students are actively doing things in the class and are learning by building robots, connecting printed circuit boards, building code, etc. The STEM teacher covers technical subjects which are critical for the student’s ability to analyze and solve problems.
These are subjects that require careful attention when explaining them. They need to understand the why before they begin with the how and what of things. This understanding makes students appreciate what they are learning. It is also equally important for the STEM teacher to teach the application of the same.
However, as STEM subjects are vast and cover several topics, concepts and subjects, they pose numerous challenges to a STEM teacher. Hence, they must possess certain characteristics that enrich a student’s learning.
Let’s understand the qualities and characteristics of a teacher in STEM and what would make them be called “great”.
Also read: 10 Best Teacher Tools Online for Teachers
6 Qualities of a good teacher in STEM
There are numerous qualities to a good teacher and listing them out would make this a 2-hour read. So, we’ll focus on our top picks for what makes a great teacher in STEM.
Be the student yourself and enjoy what you are learning
This one comes top in the list. You first have to be a student of STEM before you can educate. Explore, learn and understand the basics of the STEM subjects, apply these learnings into projects and observe what you’ve just learnt come to life. This allows you to know your content well enough to explain them in 10 different ways!
The ability to help children focus in the classroom
One thing that is noticeable in all classrooms is that some children have trouble paying attention. When this happens, we assume that the cause is of motivation – that children are just not trying hard enough to pay attention or that they need to be pushed harder.
One of the qualities of a good teacher is to know and understand that the child simply does not know how to pay attention. You must help the child to learn to pay attention. The good news is that you can teach the child how to pay attention by treating it as a skill!
Patience, pacing and listening
Another in the top qualities of a good teacher is to learn to be patient and pace the class. In a STEM lab or a STEM class, when compared to a normal classroom, the students are actively engaged. They are experimenting, working on something and asking questions all at the same time. Each student can be faster or slower than the other in terms of learning and executing instructions.
Pace yourself to each student, moderate teaching speeds and have the capacity to listen, ask the right questions, and understand the needs of the learner. A personalised learning experience goes a long way in cementing what has been learned.
Flexibility in teaching and applying different methods
When it comes to STEM, there is high variability in the students who come to learn. Apart from different ages, each student’s learning abilities also differ. One of the characteristics of a good teacher is the ability to explain complex technical concepts even to the youngest of kids.
Using pop-culture references and real-life examples can greatly engage students when they are learning something. For example, using Iron Man’s propulsion for flight can be used to teach Newton’s third law of motion or even ask “Why is an aeroplane shaped the way it is?” or “why do most aeroplanes look the same?” to teach about aerodynamics.
Support the learning process of students
Great teachers encourage students to ask questions, participate in activities, and be active in their learning rather than passively absorbing the material.
It might be easy for you, when you already know things, to give out easy explanations and answers to children’s questions. Or even tell them they are doing something wrong before they finish their mistake. When you do so, they may not fully understand why what they’re doing is a mistake!
A key characteristic of a teacher, especially in STEM, you ought to encourage learning from mistakes. Allow them to insert a cable into an incorrect port and observe why it isn’t working. Encourage them to debug their code. Create an environment where they can find solutions to problems right away. Help them understand the lesson until they can learn independently.
Such can be ideal characteristics of a teacher in STEM.
Keeping up with the STEM industry
A major characteristic of a teacher is that they are always update-to-date with the STEM industry. They observe and appreciate the way the STEM industry progresses – learn about the new technologies that are coming up, how they work and their applications. This greatly increases the STEM teacher’s fluency in the subject.
Here are 3 surefire ways to keep yourself updated in the STEM industry:
– Follow top leaders and influential people in the industry and listen to their talks, discussions and announcements.
– Read relevant articles and release papers about new products and technologies.
– Keep track of the latest buzzwords to learn how STEM is progressing.
While also learning about the industry and keeping up-to-date, ask yourself how you can include these learnings in your classroom.
In a Nutshell
“True teachers are those who help us think for ourselves” – Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Today we should know that only a teacher can change the economic, moral and social life of an individual. With the right characteristics of a teacher, as discussed above, ordinary students dream to do extraordinary things.
We always need a great teacher, regardless of our age, with qualities that can help guide us. Because when the light goes off and the room gets dark, the first thing we do is search for a light source. A good teacher is a great light source in life 🙂