Friday, 27 January 2017

5 Traits of Further Education Teachers

So an interesting week and conversation in the staff room today, discussing what the ideal candidate would be for a teacher job within the FE sector teaching compulsory English and Maths. There are plenty of lists out there online that will tell you about certain qualities you may want to possess as a teacher but with FE a certain set of skills will help you gain the most out of your students as well as from your team in helping students complete their English and Maths qualifications.

So what qualities do you need to possess in order to excel within delivering these qualifications? Well there are a few things to consider:

You don't need to have taught before to be good in FE

Some of the best lecturers will have been out to work in different positions and institutions across the country, including areas that are not do to with teaching. There is a massive weight in having work experience in a variety of different fields so you can apply these skills within Maths or English teaching. I have met lecturers across the field who are still training or have begun to train in delivery of English and Maths, they bring an amount of fresh air to the profession as they may view problems in a different way compared to people who have been teachers prior. The best results in the staff room are a mix of excellent teachers who have taught in Secondary schools mixed with new ones as they can bounce loads of different ideas off each other. I'm very lucky to have this within my current institution.

Some of the best further education teachers may not have taught before. But a real mix of backgrounds in teaching work best (Image courtesy of

Empathy is your best trait, be sure to show it

You need to show serious empathy with your students before you work in the further education field. You may find that some students will aim to challenge and make your life difficult in the teaching role, but you have to always remember that this may be a cry for help or attention across the lessons you teach. Some of the students you teach will expect to fail your subject or they will expect for your lessons to be exactly like school lessons. Your best chance at working with these students is to have a laugh, work with them and talk to them about their own interests and priorities. You will find more joy if you work with your students than work against them so try to get a grip on how your students are feeling and the pressure they face across all aspects of their programme.

An enhanced subject knowledge can be developed in time, but this will help you

As a maths lecturer starting out, I did not know what to expect walking into the Further Education classroom, my maths knowledge was good but I found it difficult to adapt the subject and emphasise it's importance to different areas. Some students will question every task they have to do and how it will apply to them, the truth is that some of these subjects may not be applicable such as having to draw graphs by hand. Emphasise the importance of having these skills to apply to any situation, just because you may be studying a health and social care course does not mean that you will always work in this sector. Maths and English qualifications give you transferrable skills to apply to a variety of settings. An enhanced subject knowledge will help you in this role to show your students your legitimacy to teach them lifelong skills they can apply to different situations.

You may want to let your students know they have options with English and Maths education (image courtesy of

Become a people person, react to your student needs

Being a people person and interacting with students in a way that they can understand and appreciate will not only help you within your role, but these traits will help some students attend your lessons and work towards achieving their qualifications. Students may challenge but just try to react with positive body language and emotional intelligence, along with empathy, try to counter-act the notion that we do not care about our students and work with them to achieve their own goals and aspirations. Some tips are to always question yourself and your actions, as a lecturer, base your decisions on your students best interests. One of my students this week was so worried about her exam, that I told her to not attempt it this time but to wait until she was ready, thinking in this way will win value amongst your students in this educational climate.

And finally, show your students the enjoyment of your job and laugh

This one is so important that I am surprised a lot of other teachers fail to miss out the basics, but remember to enjoy your own subject delivery and create activities that you would enjoy delivering as well as attempting if you were in your students position. Having this thought process when it comes to your students needs will help you create engaging, exciting activities that students will enjoy. I found that some groups hate moving around too much in their Maths lessons, so a lot of the activities I do revolve around getting them to think critically and can be enjoyed remotely, other groups may feel different. Adapting your teaching to each group will not only make your job more enjoyable but will help you to relax in the environment you are in.

Don't forget to laugh and have fun in the further education classroom

So these are just some ideas to get you thinking
Every teacher who decides to go into further education has some value to bring to the team, from previous managers to people who are newly qualified. Students who are thinking of teaching should try out Further Education within English and Maths, with the right mix of staff and student abilities it provides a stimulus to get you thinking about how to approach new challenges every day. How do you feel teaching Further Education? Are there any tips you would share with new or current further education teachers? If you do then please comment, I read every single one. I believe that together we can create an active and happy FE environment for staff, students and other working professionals.

Well let's stay positive about that prospect.

Have a great weekend teachers

- Matt