The Role of the Teacher: Part I

A teacher has many different roles in their profession. Not only are the coordinating their classroom they are also communicating with parents, collaborating with peers, and reporting to administration. This involves the need to have many different skills and abilities.

In this post, we will only look at the role of the teacher in the classroom. In particular, we will only discuss two roles and leave the others for a future post. Some of the roles of a teacher in the classroom include the follower.

  • Director
  • Encourager

The Teacher as  a Director

The teacher as director is one of the most common roles. In this capacity, the teacher is leading out in whatever is happening in the classroom. Often, the teacher in this role is the one transmitting the knowledge to receptive students. Another word for this form of teaching is direct instruction.

Although there are times for the teacher to serve as the unquestioned leader of the class there are some concerns. One, students are forced into a passive learning situation which is not beneficial to them learning how to do something. Two, the teacher is doing all the work which can exhaust him or her.

It is most appropriate to use this approach in some of the following situations.

  • The content is lower level information that only requires memorization and not higher level thinking
  • The content is completely new and the teacher wants to go through it before other forms of learning happen with the content
  • An incredibly large class in which other forms of teaching would lead to chaos

There are perhaps other situations. The point is that complete abandonment of this approach would be unfair to students as there are times when it works.

The Teacher as Encourager

There are times when students are collaborating or discussing and things are not going well. The encourager does not take over and lead the group or class. Instead, an encourager provides a hint or phrase, or perhaps they ask a question that leads the students to discover the answer. In many ways, the teacher who serves as an encourager is practicing indirect instruction at least occasionally.

This approach can be inappropriate of students just need to be told what to do. If they lack the content to find answers it is necessary to first supply the necessary information. As such, below are times when this role is appropriate in the classroom.

  • The students have the basic knowledge and the goals is for experiential learning of the content
  • Smaller class in which active participation is easier to manage.
  • Group work in which the teacher goes from group to group offer encouragement.

Let’s not limit this role to only these situations. They only provide some examples for those who need some guidelines.

Conclusion

Every teacher has their style. The point is not to attack anybody’s preference. The purpose of this post was to help teachers to see what might be their preferred role and to expand into other styles that might be useful depending on the occasion. It is not about change as much as it is about flexibility to support students as necessary.

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2 thoughts on “The Role of the Teacher: Part I

  1. Pingback: The Role of the Teacher: Part II | educationalresearchtechniques

  2. Pingback: The Role of the Teacher: Part I | Education | ...

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