What Makes a Good Preschool Teacher?
A good preschool teacher is one of the main things parents carefully look for before choosing a preschool program. There are a variety of issues to consider when examining the teachers at a prospective preschool – from educational credentials to the relationship the teacher has with kids, parents and other teachers. Experts recommend that parents should look for preschool teachers with the following qualities:
- Educational credentials. Unlike teachers in kindergarten and beyond, it is more common to find preschool teachers without degrees. While many fabulous preschool teachers don’t have degrees, child experts say finding a teacher with a degree in the field is a decided advantage. The degree indicates someone with expertise, as well as an interest in the field since college.
- Experience. A number of years as a preschool teacher, particularly if that experience is only at a couple of preschool programs, tells a parent a lot of about a teacher. First, it indicates that teaching is not just a way to earn some money, but a career. Second, a teacher with a number of years at a preschool is someone able to work with parents, teachers and administrators – as well as the kids – and do so well enough to be welcomed back again and again. That doesn’t mean a teacher fresh out college can’t be an excellent preschool teacher, only that he or she remains an unproven commodity.
- Good relationship with kids. How the teacher works in the classroom and relates to others is very important and can only be determined by observing the teacher in action. All preschools should allow parents to spend a few hours in a preschool class. It’s a good idea to show up unannounced and pay particular attention to how the teacher and the kids interact. It won’t take long to determine whether the kids respect and love the teacher, which obviously is a very good sign.
- Comfortable with adults. As good as the teacher may be with the kids, it’s also important that he or she relates well to the other teachers, as well as parents. For example, a teacher who feels uncomfortable and can’t communicate well during a parent-teacher conference probably is someone to be avoided even if that teacher has a good rapport with the kids.
- Loving, but in charge. How does the teacher handle moments where discipline is required? When things aren’t going according to plan, how does the teacher react? Experts say a good preschool teacher takes unexpected difficulties in stride and disciplines kids when necessary, but is never mean or ugly with the children.
- Enjoys teaching. Another simple but important quality is a preschool teacher who obviously enjoys what he or she does. That should be obvious after watching the teacher for a couple of hours. Teachers who remain passionate about their jobs tend to make everyone around them happier and more cooperative.