Roles and Status in the Classroom

ROles and status are terms related to societies that can also be examined from the classroom perspective. This post will look at roles and status and how they influence the classroom learning environment.


Roles are behavior patterns that are associated with a person’s status. In the classroom, the most common roles are teacher and student. However, this is an overgeneralize as the roles of an individual could be nuanced and complicated by various factors. In addition, a student and or the teacher’s role in the classroom can be influenced by their roles outside the classroom, as we will see.

Status is a term related to a role and is the benefits and burdens of a person’s role. For example, there are advantages to being a teacher in the classroom. One is the leadership position in which the teacher tells students what to do instead of being told what to do. However, there are also burdens such as discipline problems, dealing with difficult parents, and low pay. There are also pros and cons to being a student. Students have much less responsibility compared to teachers but are also under constant surveillance and control by adults.

Being a teacher is an example of an achieved status or a form of status that a person works for. Other examples of achieved status are entrepreneurs, actors, athletes, pilots, etc. Ascribed status, on the other hand, is a status that a person does not choose. Generally, many K-12 students have this status ascribed to them by their parents and the government, and many would prefer not to be a student.

Teachers and students often have multiple roles, which is called a role set. A teacher could be a parent, spouse, family member, friend, leader, a musician in addition to their teaching role. A student can also have multiple roles such as child, sibling, athlete, worker, to name a few.

If a person has to perform too much under their role, it can lead to role strain. For example, teaching is often demanding enough for many individuals. If the job becomes too burdensome, burnout can take place. The same is true for students who are struggling with academics.

If two or more roles lead to conflict, this is an example of role conflict. For example, suppose a teacher is having problems in their role as a parent. In that case, it can carry over and affect their performance in the classroom. The same can also be said of a student whose role as a child can bring problems into the classroom.

All of the ideas mentioned here have ignored the classroom to a large extent. Students can have different roles within the classroom. Some are more of the leader type, others are the class clowns, while many are simply followers. Teachers can also have varying roles based in part on their teaching style. Some teachers are more controlling, while others are more hands-off. Status can also play a role. An older respected teacher has a different role in their classroom than an untested young teacher.


Roles and status are things people acquire and seek throughout their lives. Sometimes this is good, but not always. Students and teachers need to be aware of their roles so that they can understand when things may not be working well in the classroom.

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