The Role of the Teacher

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Sept 2010

THE ROLE OF THE TEACHER

Being a teacher, like being a parent, means taking on a complex role, a role that is in constant flux , that needs constant redefinition according to the learner or the child. Teaching requires knowledge, skill, commitment and caring. Preparing to teach requires effort and time.

It was William Butler Yates who said: “Teaching is not filling a pail, but lighting a fire.” And it is the teacher’s role to strike the sparks.

I see three distinct sides to the role of the teacher.
• The first is the role in the class room, having to do with classroom management, • The second is the role towards the students, it has to do with the personal interaction between the teacher and the learner, and • The third is the role towards him- or herself, the commitment of the teacher to continued personal development, to be the best he or she can be.

1) The teacher’s role in the class room
The teacher’s role in the class room depends on the amount of autonomy a teacher is willing to give to the learners and on the stage of the introduction of new language. I will quote Harmer in distinguishing the following roles of a teacher: The teacher who acts as controller is in complete charge of the class. All attention is focused on the front of the class, and the students are all working to the same beat. This style lends itself perfectly to the accurate reproduction stage and to drilling. Some teachers appear to be natural leaders and performers and find it hard to relinquish autonomy to the learners. At the stage of creative communication though, it is vital that the control be relaxed if students are allowed a chance to learn, rather than be taught. Clearly a major part of the teacher’s job is to act as assessor of the students’ work. At the stage of accurate reproduction, correction will be immediate, to show the student where a mistake has been made. But if students are involved in a creative communication task or in pair work, gentle......
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