The Role of the teacher To teach, by dictionary definition, is


To teach, by dictionary definition, is to give instruction or lessons in a subject to a person. Although this is the main objective in teaching it is only the beginning and being a teacher involves many various skills and abilities. In this article I will be looking at what roles a teacher plays in order to be successful. From a questionaire developed by Jeremy Harmer people of all ages were asked 'what makes a good teacher'' and the response was that teachers needed to love their job,be interesting, show their personality, be entertaining,approachable,understanding, a good listener,caring etc. The overall conclusion by Harmer was that teachers needed to care more about their students learning than they do about their own teaching.

Teaching today is even more demanding than ever, larger class numbers, increasing curriculum pressures and ofsted inspections all put the teacher in a difficult position and can detract from 'natural teaching methods', whereby a teacher takes time to get to know their students and adapts a course accordingly. The vast syllabus a teacher needs to cover can mean less attention to the details mentioned above that produce a 'good teacher'. However there are still fundamental roles necessary to good teaching and these can vary depending on who the students are. When teaching younger students a teacher becomes a parent figure continuing what a parent has started in terms of discipline and encouragement in learning, as well as the guidance,support and attention needed by the child. The teacher has to skillfully balance these needs against the obligation to teach the course material.

Classroom dynamics in schools where bullying, bickering and general misbehaviour can arise means that adoption of the roles of investigator, mediator or disciplinarian can become neccessary. A teacher always needs to be objective and firm within these roles. One step further than this is the role of 'child protector'. If a child's behaviour starts to change it can be a sign that something is wrong and even if the child does not want to discuss it the teacher is obliged to make the school administration aware. A teacher may notice bruising or neglect in other forms like lack of personal care. This can be a difficult area, but teachers do need to be aware of such things as they are often the child's only other contact outside the family.

The role of 'counsellor' is one needed with students of all ages. If students have difficulties external to the classroom it will inevitably effect their learning abilities and a teacher needs to be able to identify why the student is unhappy,reluctant, behaving badly or disengaged. Once they have done this, talking and listening to the student can help uncover problems, this is usually done within tutorials.

Another role teachers are required to fulfil mainly in younger students is the role of 'careers advisor'. Students may want to talk about their own future careers and will often ask the teachers advise and ideas on the subject. A teacher can further this role by offering 'sign posting' which is to inform students of other teaching institutions or services that may be of interest to them. The role of 'motivator' is needed with all students. If students are apathetic about study or find learning dull a teacher can stimulate their creative flair by identifying,researching and producing appropriate study material. If these can be devised with the students interests taken into account the students will be less likely to become disengaged in class.

It is vital for a teacher to continually assess the students in order to meet their needs either as a class or individually. Continuing from this role of 'assessor' is the role of 'adaptor' where teachers need to be flexible enough to change lesson plans accordingly. This can be a demanding role and may mean abandoning their proposed lesson plans and to follow the students direction. To anticipate these problems preparation and the inclusion of extra materials and ideas is essential.

When dealing with people at any age a certain amount of psychological knowledge is extremly useful.Being aware of certain personality types,emotional needs and common mental health issues help to assist the teacher in providing a positive and sound learning environment. A teacher will need to undertsand a student's need for positive reinforcement, praise and encouragment which will mean not over criticising or making negative comments. A good teacher must always be aware of their impact on a class.This means being aware of their attitude and body language, how they stand,speak and their facial expressions- which can all directly affect their class.Honing these skills can improve communications between teacher and students and reinforce a positive and successful learning environment.

Teaching is comprised of many different roles and will change according to where, when and who you are teaching. One obvious role not mentioned above is that of educator. This is the primary role, where knowledge is passed from the teacher to the student but can only triumph if the roles mentioned above are incorporated. These roles are all interelated and when seen holistically represent the key to becoming a good teacher.

This may seem rather daunting to an inexperienced teacher but much of it will come naturally when relating to the students. Although there are many demands on a teacher let us not forget the rewarding experience it holds. In the words of Charles Dickens: 'There is no task more noble than the forming of young minds,no calling more worthy than the calling of those who undertake it'.