10. Passion for life. The best teachers aren’t just interested in their subject, they are passionate about it. They are also passionate about many other things. They praise good weather and smile when they take a few minutes to discuss last night’s episode of a popular TV show. They have an energy that almost makes them glow and that you want to emulate as much as possible. They approach tasks with a sense of challenge rather than routine. They take the universe’s curve balls and turn them into fun (if possible). They are human, certainly, but they make you feel that there is always a reason to keep going. Things will get better no matter how much they appear to suck at that moment.
How can we ensure that mentors continue their own professional growth and development? Quality entry-year programs establish clear criteria for mentor selection that include a commitment to initial and ongoing mentor training. In addition, program leaders work hard to give veteran mentors frequent opportunities to participate in high-quality professional-growth experiences that can enhance their work as a mentor teacher. Some programs, for example, reward mentors by giving them additional professional development days or extra support to attend professional conferences related to their work.
Enthusiasm for teaching, especially with young children, is a critical quality for teachers, according to a May 2012 article by Education World Editor-in-Chief Gary Hopkins. In his article, he shared quotes from principals who indicated this is a core quality they look for when hiring elementary school teachers. Teaching requires a tremendous amount of energy. You spend several hours a day on your feet, which is physically taxing, and you need to maintain a high level of mental stamina to teach. You also need patience and empathy for young students who might have difficulty sitting and listening for long periods of time.