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Role of the Teacher
The Role of the TeacherClose
If only the role of a teacher was as easy as being a ‘medium through which students learn’. In today’s day and age, no matter what country the role takes place in, a teacher is so much more than a resource for information. When I was young, I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up, simply because I wanted to write on the chalkboard! My teachers seemed to be the greatest printers, curving their letters just so, and I wanted to do it also! Now, after ‘higher education’, and three different career paths, I have come back to wanting to be a teacher, but my reasons have changed. I was fortunate in my years of high school, to have teachers that really cared about me as an individual, and I want to give this back. This is where the difference between ‘teaching’ and ‘being a teacher’ comes into play.
Teaching, according to Merriam Webster’s online dictionary is defined as: 1 to cause to know something; 2 to guide the studies of; 3 to impart the knowledge of. I have learned through example and the ITTT course that being a teacher is also so much more. A teacher is a role model for her students. She has to lead by example, which means being a teacher is a lifestyle, not simply a job.
As I learned in Unit one of this TEFL course, a good teacher must possess a balance of various qualities including patience, the ability to motivate, a love of helping people learn, the ability to discipline and/or correct effectively, the ability to read her students to anticipate possible problems and solutions, and the practices of being gentle (non-judgmental) and consistent. This is so much more than “imparting the knowledge of”. While some of these qualities can be learned, many of them need to be innate. It takes someone with a special personality to become a good teacher.
Learning is exciting, but it can also be intimidating, which can reveal a student’s vulnerable side. This can make the experience harder for a student, but with a teacher who understands and shows patience, a student can relax, and fully absorb the concepts at hand. The ability to motivate can be learned by a teacher; however patience and gentleness are necessary to carry out the motivational activities effectively. Leading by example, as all good teachers must do, can rejuvenate the motivation in students on a daily basis as well.
A teacher’s gentleness needs to be shown when correcting or encouraging the students. It is important to make the corrections in order for the students to learn, however this needs to be done in a manner that will help to motivate the student to make the changes necessary, without discouraging them from learning. Being consistent is also extremely important, because the class needs to know what to expect from the teacher. This will also help to build better rapport with the students, and help both the teacher and students to learn more about each other.
If a teacher exhibits a true love of teaching, and helping students learn, many of the qualities mentioned above will just fall into place. A good teacher is consistent, treats all students equally, gently maintains control of the classroom, demands respect, and gives respect, all the while imparting the knowledge. She must be a superhero of sorts!
The teacher that had the most impact on me had the toughest reputation in the school. She was tough, and she did demand a lot, but she was able to show us it was because she cared. She knew each and every one of us was worth it, and she knew we each could do it. She imparted the knowledge, gently, firmly, consistently, respectfully, and most importantly, effectively. She gently encouraged us to make changes when need be, and praised us when we did. She was a true teacher, not just someone who taught, and this is the kind of teacher I hope to be.
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So often it seems that people- students, professionals and even teachers themselves- become eager to share their criticisms about how poor the majority of teachers they’ve encountered along their way have been when such a topic is brought up in conversation or a lesson as it was in our case here at TESOL. It’s discouraging to watch as the teacher at the front introduces the idea of poor teachers and then quite quickly, in fact in no time at all, a chorus begins and crescendos to a peak where it remains suspended as everyone else desperately voices their own displeasure and their own pain of times they’ve tried to learn from someone who wasn’t very good at allowing it to happen but should have been. My voice was missing from that displeasured mass of sound as long ago I realized I learn through observing and listening others and allowing myself to develop my own understanding, rather than trying to guess what the teacher (or anyone) was trying to get across to me… so as the class went on, I remained true to what is natural for me and I observed and listened and developed my own understanding.
I listened to the complaints and groans of painful memories… to experiences of anxiety and frustration at the impatience, ignorance and selfishness… whatever criticisms they had for their former teachers. I wondered, while hearing all this, how if so many people (if not all of us) have had such horrible past teachers and their impact is still so fresh and apparent to us, then how do bad teachers still exist. If it is such a universal problem and so many people have so much input about the topic, then how is it still a problem? How is it that it hasn’t been corrected? The reason, as I understand it, is that most people who decide to pursue the profession aren’t willing to do what is necessary with themselves in order to help others… which is basically all teaching is… helping others learn.
Teaching is sharing information with someone so that they might understand it themselves. In order for a person to become an effective teacher, they must first be comfortable with being a person, comfortable with their own humanity and be able to let go of the selfish, desperate grasp they have on their title as a teacher and all that they think it should imply like status, entitlement and perfection. A teacher must be willing to be real at all times. Joseph Addison once said, “I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable.”
Henry Brooks Adams said, “A teacher affects eternity, he can never tell where his influence stops.” From observing my class it’s apparent what a teacher actually teaches his students. It’s not the material presented but how he presented the material that impacts the students and affects them for the rest of their lives. The affect doesn’t stop at the student, but influences how his student affects others they encounter and this pattern continues for as long as all of these people keep talking and keep sharing the information they learned from their teachers with others. So when a teacher presents information with an expectation that the student should learn the information quickly, or at all, and becomes frustrated and impatient when his expectation isn’t met, then it is this impatience and frustration and this expectation that is taught instead of the information that was meant to be learned and it is that impatience, frustration and expectation that will be passed on and shared with others in the future.
To quote Amos Bronson Alcott, “The true teacher defends his pupils against his own personal influence. He inspires self-distrust. He guides their eyes from himself to the spirit that quickens him. He will have no disciple.” Teaching isn’t about us teachers… but the people we attempt to teach. The focus isn’t us teaching the students but for the student’s to learn and grow as people. It’s not following the lesson plan that is the priority in the classroom but adapting the lesson plan to nurture student’s learning and development.
For us to become effective, true teachers we must first get beyond the titles of teacher and student and all the misconceptions that accompany them. We are people sharing information with other people. We need to realize that while in front of the class we are vulnerable to only those things we wish we were invulnerable to. For us to become teachers we must keep in mind all those influences from past teachers that made us afraid, uncomfortable or unable to learn from. We must move above thinking that we were taught nothing by those people and open ourselves to the possibility that what we were taught wasn’t what was intended but instead their negative influences, their impatience at unmet expectations.
We must realize those experiences and make them a priority of each lesson we prepare. What we teach them now about teaching and learning will be taught by them and learned by others again in the future. We need to know that along with learning information we also demonstrate how we exist and coexist as people… demonstrations that students will trust instinctively and mimic instantly. It isn’t us that we should want students to follow but their own intuition and their own needs as people. It’s not what we say that will affect others but the ways we say it when we’re not trying to… when we are real, without knowledge of an audience. To become true teachers we must understand the risk of what influences we may be passing on to those we are attempting to teach ourselves and be altruistic enough to be willing to change our approach for our students’ sake instead of continuing on embracing our ignorance.
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The role of the “TESOL” teacher is to promote and develop autonomous learning in the classroom by facilitating, helping, counseling, coordinating, proposing ideas, guiding, and fostering communication. It is very important to have a bond between the teacher and the student for both parties to set goals, work out those goals together and finally accomplish them. A sense of understanding between both the teacher and the student is imperative as both parties will be aware of the responsibilities each one has to each other. Teacher involvement is the key to students’ guidance and success. Teachers should not only lecture a class but also know the students and their capabilities.
Furthermore, the teacher is called upon to perform several functions in foreign language learning. These are the following:-Teacher as director and manager – One of the main concerns of the teacher as director and manager is to create a warm, stimulating atmosphere in which the students will feel secure and confident. In order for a student’s learning experience to be effective there needs to be an environment where both the teacher and student can work together. So, it is essential that the teacher create such an environment where the students are able to learn. For example, decorating the room with pictures that the students can identity with as well be able to discuss. This allows the students to have a word in the class and can be used as well as a method of motivation for the students. Moreover, the interaction between a teacher and a student is imperative. It is impossible to have a learning environment where no communication takes place. Without interaction there is little success taking place in the learning arena. The teacher should also make decisions on the materials to be used, as well as the activities and games which will best suit with the learners’ needs and abilities. The teacher is supposed to organize the class, deciding whether a specific role-play or game will be stimulated in pairs or in groups. Teacher as counselor and a language resource – The second function that the foreign language teacher is expected to fulfil is that of counselor and a language resource. He/she should provide the learners with the necessary input in order to foster understanding of the relation between language and communication. That is, he/she must modify and simplify her language according to the needs arising in each communicative situation, and to the grammatical competence and language proficiency of the students. Teacher as a model and independent language user – In order to become a successful communicator and model for learners, the teacher should promote a wide range of behaviours and psychological and social relationships such as solidarity and politeness. Another role of the teacher is the discipline a teacher creates in a classroom. Depending on the discipline the teacher believes reflects whether the environment will be a pleasant one or not. For example, the raising of one’s voice and constant screaming can have a detrimental effect on the student. Not only does the student feel uncomfortable around the teacher, but also the student is unable to feel at ease at work. The teacher should help learners to negotiate meaning in the target language through his own active participation in it, and act as a mediator between the linguistic and extra-linguistic context of foreign language learning, as these are reflected in the textbooks and re-alia (e.g, audio-visual aids, … etc) or literature, respectively.
To conclude, we can say that teachers play an essential role in the foreign language classroom. They are not only directors and managers of the classroom environment but also function as counselors and language resources facilitating the teaching-learning process.
Sources: Zawodniak & Darron Board
Karen How Ah Li
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Role of the Teacher = “Patience + Professionalism + Understanding Child Potential
P is a powerful letter for the ESL Teacher. A teacher must be prompt, punctual, powerfully engaging, capable of potential assessment, and professional. A teacher must be take pride in teaching and build on the promise available. However, for purpose of time placement, the three important P’s in the role of the ESL teacher are: patience, potentiality, and professionalism. A teacher must direct students to take initiative both actively and in a constructive way. An educator’s role also relies on the teacher assessing potential - each child is a promise of what can be and what should be.
A teacher must value potential and treat the student’s potential with the mandatory respect and regard all humans deserve. An educator must be held responsible for each student’s productivity by maintaining a degree of professionalism. As a cultivator, facilitator, care giver, and instructor, the teacher is responsible for all observable and unobservable changes within a learner. A teacher must always conduct him or herself with regard for the learning process, be punctual when arriving in the classroom, and prompt with readily available materials for students. By maintaining patience, valuing the student as a unique being with multiple capabilities and abilities, and being able to show change through observable behaviors and thinking patterns through observable professionalism, this all important P-triad will help the teacher make the formula that equals a productive adult.
A teacher and ESL teacher is particular must activate and execute patience in all learning and behavior situations with students. In Canter’s Assertive Discipline, the role of the teacher is clearly defined as one who remains calm and distances oneself from the anger of the student, gives students limits, and provides positive recognition and support. A patient teacher is not only a teacher who waits for the student to correctly answer a question but can meet the adversity of a tired, frustrated, angry learner within the classroom setting. Patience, in the role of the teacher, is perseverance regardless of the classroom scenario.
UNDERSTANDING CHILD POTENTIAL
The learner is a multi-faceted being with boundless potential and multiple abilities that interact together to create a unique being. According to Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory, a student contains eight intelligences: linguistic, logical-mathematic, spatial, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist (Gardner, 2007). The teacher can gauge the strengths and areas for improvement of a learner, what skills to cultivate, and what skills to challenge. An educator can utilize multiple learning styles to help expand these intelligences: through exercises that allow movement, touching, listening, seeing, and feeling. The teacher can affirm what will benefit the pupil and student body.
A Professional teacher practices classroom management, is prompt and ready at the beginning of class, and takes the responsibility of teaching seriously. A professional has classroom management that is flexible enough for the students needs and structured enough for educational discipline to occur. All students are entitled to a safe environment that revolves around an orderly classroom, lesson plans with developmentally appropriate subject matter, and appreciation of diversity. A learner must be treated with patience and pushed to achieve maximum capacity by the educator. A professional is always prompt in the classroom and even teachers who rotate classrooms must have their materials readily available to pull out in each different room. Finally, a professional teacher takes teaching seriously by getting to know her or his students. A professional teacher incorporates important parts of the students’ lives into the lessons. By getting basic information about students, obtaining information about the student’s prior educational experience, and being aware of the student’s home culture, the role of professional teacher is played (Peregoy & Owen, 2005). A professional educator makes all information relevant to the learner without relying on the student’s native language. A professional educator takes the business of getting to know the student and working within the context of the English language seriously.
Simple as the English letters X, Y, Z, the teacher role is the three P’s, patience, understanding potential, and professionalism.
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First of all we should specify, what the role is. As we each adopt different 'roles' in everyday situations, these roles change with the situation. We all have numerous roles in life so the teacher has many roles during a lesson. The teacher is manager, controller, organiser, assessor, prompter, participant, tutor, facilitator, resource, model, observer, monitor, motivator. The teacher is circulating, redirecting, disciplining, questioning, assessing, guiding, directing, fascinating, validating, facilitating, moving, monitoring, challenging, motivating, watching, moderating, diagnosing, trouble-shooting, observing, encouraging, suggesting, watching, and clarifying during the lesson.
The situation with the role of the teacher has not been the same all times. Traditionally, teaching was a combination of information dispensing, custodial childcare and sorting out academically inclined students from others. The underlying model for schools was an education factory in which adults, paid hourly or daily wages, kept like-aged youngsters sitting still for standardized lessons and tests.
Teachers were told what, when, and how to teach. They were required to educate every student in exactly the same way and were not held responsible when many failed to learn. They were expected to teach using the same methods as past generations, and any deviation from traditional practices was discouraged by supervisors or prohibited by myriad education laws and regulations. Thus, many teachers simply stood in front of the class and delivered the same lessons year after year, growing grey and weary of not being allowed to change what they were doing.
The fact is, lessons consisted primarily of lecturing to students who had sat in rows at desks, dutifully listening and recording what they had heard, rather then offers every child a rich, rewarding, and unique learning experience. Information was bound primarily in books and Students were just consumers of facts and not the active creators of knowledge.
This situation rapidly changed in last years. The most respected teachers have discovered how to make students active and passionate participants in the instructional process by providing project-based, participatory, educational adventures. Students work harder when teachers give them a role in determining the form and content of their schooling -- helping them create their own learning plans and deciding the ways in which they will demonstrate that they have, in fact, learned what they agreed to learn.
"A good teacher knows when to act as Sage on the Stage and when to act as a Guide on the Side. Because student-centred learning can be time-consuming and messy, efficiency will sometimes argue for the Sage. When students are busy making up their own minds, the role of the teacher shifts. When questioning, problem-solving and investigation become the priority classroom activities, the teacher becomes a Guide on the Side." (The WIRED Classroom Jamie McKenzie)
The teacher nowadays is still on the move. The teacher checking over shoulders, asking questions and teaching mini-lessons for individuals and groups who need a particular skill. Support is customized and individualized. The Guide on the Side sets clear expectations, provides explicit directions, and keeps the learning well structured and productive.
Here are brief explanations of any roles listed above.Organizer - probably the most important role of teacher, because teacher has to organize the whole lesson, bring and initiate activities and feedback activities. Any problems with lesson organizing lead to chaos in the class Prompter - teacher should become a prompter when students are stuck for ideas or have problems with communication. Teacher in this role should be very careful not to take initiative away from the student Tutor - this role is more or less employed when students are working individually and need support or help and guidance. Often intruding should be avoided. Assessor -Students want feedback from the teacher just like teacher wants feedback from the students and this is where teacher needs to act as an assessor. Teacher has to correct and evaluate students Teacher in this role must be fair and sensitive to the students reaction. Observer - Teacher becomes observer when he wants to find out what is going on in the classroom, if students are fine with given activity, make notes for later correction. Teacher in this role should keep a matching distance from the students not to distract them from their activity Participant - In any parts of the lesson there is a chance for teacher to participate in activity as an equal, not as a teacher. It is very useful to motivate, encourage and help students from inside the working group.
Irena KOUDELKOVA - Heureka
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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.