The Role of the Teacher Teaching is an age-old profession
Teaching is an age-old profession dating back as early as Socrates and his most famous student, Plato. Integral to this ancient model of education was a give-and-take relationship between teacher and student. The role of the teacher is not merely a bank of mundane facts but rather, that of 'educational guides, facilitators and co- learners' (Redefining the Role of the Teacher by Judith Taack Lanier). Teachers must engage their students and foster a desire to learn. A teacher can not simply rely on dated textbooks to teach their students but rather a teacher must become an artist, creating curriculum that is both interesting and relevant to the students. As Lanier states in her article, 'the curriculum must relate to their lives, learning activities must engage their natural curiosity, and assessments must measure real accomplishments and be an integral part of learning.' A teacher must be flexible and adapt to the needs of the students and other variables. The goal of the teacher shouldn't be to have students recall stagnant facts but instead to have students retain a living bed of knowledge and understanding of the subject. For as Lanier states, 'Students aren't consumers of facts. They are active creators of knowledge.' Having recently graduated from University, I can categorically say that the classes in which I have retained the most information were those in which the teacher was a dynamic participant in the class and showed genuine interest in the material. The teacher's own interest and engagement with the material have a great impact on student's interest in the class and likewise on student's ability to truly learn the material. Words in a textbook are static and impersonal but it is the teacher that must give life and dimension to the material. Lanier states: The day-to-day job of a teacher, rather than broadcasting content, is becoming one of designing and guiding students through engaging learning opportunities. An educator's most important responsibility is to search out and construct meaningful education experiences' Considering the great deal of dedication and hard work that teaching demands, a teacher must have a real and honest interest in their subject as well as an interest in their students. Additionally, they must have an honest interest in sharing their interest with their students. Thus, in teaching English it is not sufficient to merely be an English speaker; one must have through knowledge and interest in the language and a desire to share this with those who are unfamiliar with the English language. The EFL teacher must be sensitive to the various personal and cultural differences of their students. 'Their most important role is to get to know each student as an individual in order to comprehend his or her unique needs, learning style, social and cultural background, interests and abilities' (Lanier). As much as the teacher is a source of information for the students, so too is she a student learning from the class. It is with the information learned from the students that a good teacher is able to further their craft and develop themselves as a teacher. The true test of whether one has fulfilled their role as a teacher is in the success of their students. In teaching EFL a successful teacher is not one who has merely taught students to memorize and regurgitate verb tenses but instead a teacher who has taught students how to use and truly understand their new language. This teacher will have inspired a life-long interest in the student and that is the mark of an excellent teacher.
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