Business Skills for Teachers
Many people believe that business skills are only needed in companies, by entrepreneurs, or when you are working in management.
They are especially important for the private tutors, language and music teachers who are running their own business.
However, the main skills listed in job advertisements for management positions are also used extensively in traditional classroom teaching.
How do teachers use business skills?
Teaching is all about effective communication, not just in the classroom, but also with co-teachers, administration and parents.
Clearly presenting information to be learned and persuading students to listen is only part of this skill area - teachers smoothly resolve conflicts, both large and small, and support their peers on a daily basis.
Teachers inspire and lead their students, continuously guiding student development and objectively assessing their performance. They set goals and review progress, motivate students and resolve problems.
Often, teachers are mentors and supervisors, both to their students and to their co-teachers, especially if leading a team in a particular subject area.
Teachers must juggle curriculum and lesson planning, manage classroom supplies and equipment, and manage their time well, both within the classroom during a lesson, and in the office.
With marking, material development, and a myriad of other tasks, teachers are masters of organization.
Have you ever taken a business skills course?
Making lessons appealing to all students is a form of marketing. Students need to be motivated in order to learn, and teachers choose the form of motivation that works best for each student.
Encouraging parents to participate in school activities is another marketing area of teaching, and teachers must also represent and market their school in the community.
Teachers are used to dressing appropriately, being punctual, having materials properly prepared, setting up and using technical equipment, and presenting their material professionally, all without stumbling. Their students would eat them alive otherwise!
Both in teaching and in business, it is important to present yourself and your materials professionally.
Qualities important in teaching and business
Many personal qualities or attributes (not skills) are important both in teaching and in business.
- patience - a classroom full of mischievous monkeys, a team with a difficult project.
- self-restraint - not reacting when parents undermine their child's studies, managers randomly change project goals.
- respect - treating students and co-workers equally and respectfully.
- approachable - students or co-workers can discuss problems and ask for help.
- kindness - helping students or co-workers improves working relationships and your reputation.
- fairness - assessing performance and work objectively, without bias.
- honesty - being truthful and not covering up mistakes.
Why are business skills important for teachers?
In many countries, a teacher's performance is based on some combination of their students' performance and feedback, the opinions of their peers, and evidence of ongoing skills development by attending training courses, workshops, seminars, conferences and presentations.
There is a worrying trend to evaluate teachers solely on their student's test performance. Anything that can improve students' motivation in the classroom, will improve their test scores.
Developing better business skills for teaching can directly improve student performance.
As a teacher, do you have an online presence?
Many 'teachers' are not in the school education system - they may teach adults at various training organizations, be private tutors or music teachers, they may be trainers inside a company.
All of these positions require good business skills to keep clients (students) happy and find new clients. These skills are important for career advancement or when applying for a new teaching position.
Finally, these transferable skills are also useful for teachers who want to move away from teaching and into another field.
How can teachers learn or improve their business skills?
Teacher training courses often run only during term breaks or at the end of the school year. It is nigh impossible to take time off during term to attend training courses. But teachers are also expected to continuously build and develop their skills.
Many business skills courses and workshops are offered as evening or online courses, to fit around the working schedule of office and business workers.
You can use the following table to choose an area you want to develop, then find a business skills course that focuses on those areas. Some course areas listed below are very broad, and some are more focused.
Different courses and how they are useful
Course (business skill area)
Justification for teachers
Conflict resolution (C / L)
resolving and preventing conflict in the classroom, minimizing classroom disruptions, fostering a positive learning environment, supporting co-teachers, dealing with aggressive parents and problem students
Goal Setting (L / O)
designing assessment, meeting curriculum requirements, tracking progress, assessing performance
Marketing and Sales ( C / L / M)
persuading students to participate, encouraging parents to participate in school activities, developing negotiation skills for conflict resolution, designing and crafting the school's website, newsletter and promotional material
Social Media (C / L / M)
integrating new technology in the classroom, improving visibility of school activities and encouraging parents to participate, supporting co-teachers, participating in the professional educational community
Mentoring (C / L)
improving students' performance, guiding student development, supervising new co-teachers, maintaining a supportive learning (and working) environment
Performance assessment (C / L)
designing and documenting objective assessment criteria, marking students' work, assessing students' performance and participation in classes, providing constructive feedback, writing performance reports
Project management and supervision (C / L / O)
supervising students' progress, assessing students' progress, planning and scheduling curriculum to requirements, delegating responsibilities, creating materials to meet requirements, documenting everything - curriculum, lesson plans, assessment criteria, class progress notes (required by a replacement teachers and used when assessing teacher performance)
Professional communication - writing and public speaking (C / M / P)
material development, business writing (school promotion), organizing equipment, timing presentation, presenting and public speaking, writing performance reports
Resource management (O / P)
organizing the physical classroom, managing and maintaining equipment, planning for upgrades and new resources, reducing resource costs
Risk assessment and hazard identification (L)
minimizing injuries and disruptions, evaluating and calculating the costs of new curriculum, teaching methods, materials and equipment
Team management (C / L)
supervising a team (classroom) of students, resolving problems in the classroom, delegating responsibilities, improving and assessing student performance, leading a team of co-teachers in your subject area, mentoring students and co-teachers
Time management (O)
planning classes, classroom time management, scheduling time outside the classroom effectively to juggle marking, material creation, professional development, and other school activities.
C = Communication
L = Leadership
M = Marketing
O = Organization
P = Presentation
Find a course
You can find business skills courses and workshops in the following places:
- newspaper announcements
- career centers
- employment offices
- community centers
- community colleges
- unions and professional bodies
- training organizations
- personal trainers and mentors
How to choose a good course
If you are using a course to show that you are actively developing your teaching career, look for one that provides a certificate of attendance or a performance report.
Justify your course choice and convince your teaching-supervisor that this course directly improves your skills in the classroom.
Skills courses are also important
Teachers should also develop and improve other skills that can benefit them in the classroom, and in their careers.
Social media - learn how to use tools like Twitter, Facebook, image sharing sites and more - all of which are starting to be used for schools.
Plus private tutors and music teachers need to network and find new clients, for many social media is the new 'best method'.
Technology - learn to use new software, apps, gadgets and tools, necessary in today's 'age of information'.
Stress management - learn how to relax and deal with your heavy, complex workload.
Creativity - learn and transfer new skills and techniques, great for problem solving and team building.
Meditation - learn to relax and manage conflict situations more easily.
Physical/exercise - deal with the physical demands of your job more easily.
Personal productivity - learn to manage all your resources effectively, set and reach your goals.
Learn to lead (and teach) like a great conductor!
If you are a teacher, how do you lead your classes?
How would improving your business skills help you?
Let us know in the comments below!