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The Role of the Teacher The role of the teacher is transforming
The role of the teacher is transforming from one that has traditionally been seen as one of dispensing knowledge and facts in to one that facilitates learning. Webster's New World Dictionary defines facilitate as 'to make easy'. This new role of learning facilitator can actually be more demanding for the teacher as it necessitates the need for the teacher to be more creative in the teaching process while allowing the student to be more active in the learning process. Reality also necessitates that the teacher assume many other roles in order to accomplish the course objectives of not only the teacher, but students and institutions as well.
In the traditional model, the teacher determines and provides students with what they are to know and learn and then selects how the students are to learn it. Course content has been typically presented in a fixed and rigid format that many students find boring and difficult to assimilate in to true learning. Taking a list of words or facts and converting them in to life experiences is hard for students to envision so they can lose interest in the course and disconnect from learning.
To combat this learning disconnection, teachers, as learning facilitators, are challenged to identify and create learning opportunities for the students outside the standard environment and method. By creating a learning environment that promotes a variety of learning techniques and activities that are fun and interesting to students, the teacher opens learning opportunities so that the students can dig a little deeper in to the lesson and discover concepts and material on their own. Knowledge can then transforms in to actual learning.
Organizer and time manager are also important roles filled by today's teacher. It is crucial that the teacher recognize what information needs to be presented and provide an estimate of the time it will require for adequate presentation. Getting everything accomplished within the established class time period requires the teacher to be well organized and able to keep the flow of the class moving forward. Flexibility also needs to be 'built in' to meet any unforeseen situations that will inevitably arise. A teacher with good organization and time management skills will be able to accomplish the lesson within the established time period and address those unplanned situations that arise.
Evaluating student progress and providing performance feedback is a critical role for the teacher. Schools and institutions require students be evaluated and the students themselves desire feedback on how they are doing with their studies. Formal testing and assessments are the traditional ways in which teachers evaluate student progress in a course. Grading gives a concrete value to the student's knowledge, abilities and performance in the class. While this formal evaluation is necessary, informal evaluations are essential to student development. Daily assessment of student activities and performance in the classroom is an ongoing process and role of the teacher. Providing instant feedback with the appropriate praise or correction allows students to have a sense of how they are doing with the coursework and identify areas of weakness that will require additional attention. Providing correction fairly and with sensitivity to the individual student is the constant role of the teacher and one that should always strive to boost student confidence and ability.
A heavy responsibility of the teacher is in being viewed by students as the model for the course content. Students will look to the teacher for expertise in pronunciation and use of the language. If the teacher is a native-speaker working in a foreign country, they will become 'ambassadors' for their country and their manner and behavior will be observed and scrutinized by students and others.
The role of today's teacher is varied and demanding. However, with proper planning, organization, sensitivity and a little creativity, both teacher and student will succeed.
1.) ITTT Course text 2.) Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language; Warner Books, 1984. 3.) How to Teach English; Pearson Education Limited; Harmer, J., 2005.