The role of the teacher may not be as simple as people think and is always changing. A role can be defined as an expected behaviour in a given individual social position. (1) In recent years, there has been more emphasis upon student-centred lessons as opposed to teacher-centred. In reality, it is likely that a combination of both is used depending on the type of activity concerned. The role of the teacher can be widely split into three main categories: subject specialist, classroom manager and pastoral role.
Teachers should be specialists in their chosen subjects. Not only should they have studied their subjects in depth, they should also be continuously building upon their knowledge. The curriculum is constantly changing and teachers should be aware of these changes and incorporate them into their lesson plans. This will ensure that what they are teaching is relevant today. Teachers should also be skilled in lesson planning to ensure they share their knowledge in an organised manner. The role of assessor is vital to progress. Students are usually very keen to find out if they are producing correct work and this is where the teacher will need to act as assessor, giving feedback and correction as well as evaluating. The teacher should be fair and consistent with all students and also be sensitive to the students? reactions and providing support. Tutoring implies a more personal role for the teacher and will be used when the students need additional support or guidance when working individually or in small groups.
Teachers often have to take on the role of manager. They are in charge of the class and would normally be standing at the front of the class giving explanations or instructions. How well a teacher can manage a classroom depends on their management style. Some teachers naturally have a more controlling style whilst others are more relaxed and allow the students flexibility whilst still maintaining control of the classroom. The role of manager could encompass classroom, behavioural and performance management. Classroom management incorporates organising, planning, record keeping and classroom organisation and all are important to avoid chaos in the classroom. Behaviour management is also important to ensure focused students are not disadvantaged by unruly students. The teacher should always be in control of the classroom and introduce techniques to promote discipline such as rewards or penalties e.g. detention.
The pastoral role of the teacher is also extremely important to a students? progress. Schools are not only institutions for learning academic subjects. Schools are also about preparing students for life. Pastoral care embodies both the personal and social development of students and education. We should not wait for problems to happen and then teach the students how to cope with them, but equip them with skills in advance, which will not only enable them to cope with problems but also foresee and overcome them. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Teachers should be approachable and take on the role as friend, confidante and mentor. Mentoring is ancient. The original Mentor was described by Homer as the ?wise and trusted counselor? whom Odysseus left in charge of his household during his travels. Athena, in the guide of Mentor, became the guardian and teacher of Odysseus? son Telemachus. In modern times, mentoring has been introduced into every form of learning. (2) Mentoring is a personal, as well as, a professional relationship and develops over an extended period. A mentor will try to be aware of the changing needs of the students and try to vary the type of attention, help, advice, information and encouragement that he or she provides.
In conclusion, teachers wear many hats and have many different roles depending on the situation. Each role will have a different effect on students? behaviours and progress. We might say that the successful teacher is one who is aware of the teacher roles which are appropriate to different situations and possess the personality skills which allow him or her to adapt to changing situations. (3)
Reference: (1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Role
Author: Jemma Eady
Date of post: 2007-04-18