Ten essential qualities that all engineering teachers should adopt

Dr. M.Subbiah, an engineering teacher with over 38 years of experience, writes about what he thinks are the essential qualities that all teachers should possess

Teaching is not just about lecturing and if you are in this profession you probably already know it. I have taught engineering to students for over three decades.  During my time as an educator I have found out that great teachers possess certain qualities. These qualities when adopted can make a big difference to you as a person and as a teacher.

1. Passion: Teachers should have a passion for the profession. Every component of the teaching and evaluation process should be carried out with care and precision and not just as a routine job requirement for completing the prescribed syllabus.

2. Potential for continued learning: This is an indispensable quality. Teachers should keep updating their knowledge. You should be well-versed with the recent developments and on-going research in your respective engineering specialization.

3. Preparation:  Preparing for lectures and organizing teaching materials is a must for the teachers. Power Point presentations are helpful and so is referring to standard text books written by well known authors. National Programme on Technology Enabled Learning Lecture series (NPTEL) and research papers appearing in journals can be used for making the teaching material up-to-date.

4. Presentation skills:  This skill is vital for a precise, lucid and effective delivery of what you want to teach. Start with a clear introduction of the topic, show appropriate models and suitable simulation results wherever needed.  Talk about relevant applications related to the topic and end with a crisp summary of the various points covered in the lecture.

5. Practical skills: Engineering teachers should be well-versed with the experimental procedures, fabrication techniques and use of modern software tools in their field of specialization. This is essential for imparting skills to students and making them ready for the job market.

6. Presence of mind: This comes in handy as teachers are required to give convincing answers with suitable examples when students suddenly ask unexpected questions during the lectures. Presence of mind also helps in  changing the sequence of delivery, based on the response of students. This quality of the teacher builds up confidence among the students and inspires them to listen to the teachers more attentively.

7. Promptness: Teachers should be very meticulous in sticking to the prescribed schedule in commencing and ending the lectures, setting question papers, conducting periodical tests, valuing and returning answer papers to the students with necessary comments and in consolidating the students’ overall performance to maintain the motivation and seriousness of the students.

8. Patience:  Teachers should develop the much needed patience in teaching particularly abstract concepts and in dealing with slow learners, realizing that a class consists of a heterogeneous group of students and all of them may not show the same amount of interest in all the topics and learn at the same pace.

9. Positive attitude:  Your attitude reflects greatly on the kind of students you produce. Teachers are also mentors. If the teacher is positive and motivating, then students are likely to perform well. When the teachers have a positive attitude the students can be motivated to realize their responsibilities, listen to the lectures seriously, put in hard work, study sincerely, do well in the examinations, carry out innovative projects, earn their degree with distinction, acquire all the necessary skills and get well placed or take up higher studies and research and fulfill the expected learning outcomes.

10. Performance consciousness:  Teachers, through self-appraisal, should constantly strive to improve their performance. They should also periodically review whether all the processeses they adopt are in tune with the stated programme outcomes and vision and mission statements of the institution and enjoy the profession in its entirety and derive total job satisfaction.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. M.Subbiah has over 38 years of teaching experience in the field of engineering. He has worked as a faculty member in the EEE department at the Nation Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli and Rajalakshmi Engineering College, ChennaI. Dr. Subbiah is now visiting faculty at the latter.

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