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Teacher's Role and Responsibilities

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Teacher's Role and Responsibilities
Roles, Responsibilities and Relationships in Lifelong Learning Sector

This is an introduction to the areas above which are vital for the teaching professional. The teacher’s role is dependent on what is required of his job. Ideally, most teachers follow the teaching and learning cycle. The learning cycle can start at any point in the cycle and covers five stages. (Gravells 2011). These are as follows:
 Identifying needs
 Planning
 Facilitating
 Assessing
 Evaluating
All stages of the cycle must be completed in order to achieve effective teaching. The teacher must teach his particular subject ensuring his students are involved and are taking part in the process. The teacher must use easy and understandable language as well as motivating students. She/he also needs to assess students’ progress and give feedback and have progress record for each student. We will explain later the roles and responsibilities of the teacher at each stage of the cycle but let us look the responsibility of the teacher with regarding the legislations and regulations.

As part of the teacher’s responsibility, he needs to be familiar with the variety of legislations, regulatory requirements and Code of Practice linked with his role. She/he needs to be able to interpret and being able to refer to them without problems. In any given task, as suggested by Furlong (2000), the teacher has responsibilities to act well and in accordance with professional values. It is known fact that responsibility is closely linked with accountability. This means, the teacher has the opportunity to decide and make choices and judgements about best course of actions. Apart from conforming certain legislations, the teacher must create trusting relationship between him and his learners. This is supported by (Becker, 1970, pg91) who pointed out “If the client is to trust the professional completely, he must feel that there are no other interest which will be put before his in the performance of the professional activity” Therefore, the assumption that adult students are able to fend for themselves, both academically and socially is wrong. The teacher is responsible for the well being and safety of his students. She/he also holds responsibilities to other stakeholders such as employers in the industry for which he is preparing his learners and to society as a whole.

Legislations play a very important part in the teaching of lifelong learning sector. Legislations protect the health and safety of learners and teachers. They also equality and ensure confidentiality through data protection. Teachers must conform to legislations, regulations and code of conducts relating to their role. Let us focus more and explain the most important three legislations which relate to teachers are as follows:

 Health and safe at Work Act (1974),
 Equality Act (2012),
 The Data Protection Act (1998)

HEALTH AND SAFETY AT WORK ACT (1974)
This Act points out the general duties which employers have towards employees and public as well as the duties which an employee has to himself and others. The Act ensures the working environment is safe and secure for all within it. The main aspects of this Act are:
 Employers are required to ensure the safety of its employees
 Employers are required to provide adequate training and supervision of its employees and ensure safe working environment.
 Individuals found negligent will be prosecuted as well as their organisation.

Looking back the above, it is clear that teachers need to carry out on-going risk assessment as part of their lesson plan. This is supported by Gravells (2011) who points out that students deserve to learn in a safe and healthy environment. For example, the teacher needs to ensure electrical cables and other objects are covered and the room is warm and well ventilated before commencing any session. Other Legislations relating to health and safety are:
 Manual Handling Operation Regulation (1992)
 RIDDOR- Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences (1995).
 Children Act (2004)-Safeguarding issues

EQUALITY ACT (2010)
This Act brought disability, sex, race and other grounds of discrimination within one piece of legislation. The aim of this act is to eliminate discrimination, reduce inequality, protect human rights and builds good relationship which ensures everyone has a fair chance to participate in society. The Act states clearly that each individual should be treated equally regardless of their gender, colour, race, disability, religion and sex orientation.
Generally, this is common sense but the Act forces an awareness of the problem and ensures attitude change and further improvement in people’s working condition. Therefore, in order to avoid unfairness towards unable students, the teacher should do a diagnostic test the first day in the class so as to know the different knowledge, and level of each student. Reflecting on the outcome of the test, then the teacher can plan the lesson accordingly by accommodating some of those needs. he/she may also need to refer the unable students for additional learning support.

THE DATA PROTECTION ACT (1998)
This Act gives rights to individuals in respect of the personal data that organisations hold about them. It is important that the teacher is aware that this act has eight principles which make sure personal information is fairly and lawfully processed. The eight principles are:

• Processed for limited purposes
• Adequate, relevant and not excessive
• Accurate and up to date
• Processed in line with individual rights
• Secure
• Not transferred to other countries without adequate protection.

The above act is relevant to the teaching profession because teachers must ensure confidentiality within the class and outside the class. All information about students individually and collectively must not be shared with others unnecessarily and without any benefit to the students.

As a teacher, you may start the learning cycle at the point of Identifying Needs where information is needed in order find out what the learner’s needs are. Information gathering and processing it before any teaching takes place falls as part of the teacher’s role and responsibilities. During enrolment, much information is collected to help the teacher and the learner. For example, if a new learner discloses some issues such as dyslexia or the need for specialised equipment, then, this gives the teacher an opportunity to check if the learner’s needs can be met before starting the course. Initial assessment also gives the teacher some additional information such as present skills, abilities and knowledge. The teacher needs to know at this stage his own boundaries within his role such as when to refer a student to other departments inside the college or outside the college for further support. Trying to deal all matters does not produce good results and may make the learner becoming too attached or too close to the teacher which will undermine professional boundaries. It gets even more complicated as you move to different stages of the cycle.

In The Planning Stage, the teacher’s role is to prepare teaching and learning resources and activities. The teacher is responsible for ensuring safe environment and must have contingency plan in place. Time planning, available room, choice of the topic, materials for teaching, adequate lighting and warm environment are all part of this stage. The teacher must always have careful consideration of the needs of his learners and plan the lesson well ensuring the needs of all the students are met.

The role of the teacher in the Enabling or Facilitating Stage is to communicate appropriately and effective with students. He needs to be aware of promoting equality and valuing diversity within the group. It is also important promoting appropriate behaviour and respect by designing ground rules with the group. Teaching inclusively and engaging all is also vital. The teacher must act appropriately, act professionally and with integrity. It is his responsibility to ensure he is qualified to teach the subject and can engage and encourage learners. Finally, he must complete attendance record as part of his administrative responsibilities. While at this stage, the teacher must not let a student repair a fault computer as this against health and safety. The teacher needs to follow the college or university policies and request a qualified technician to repair the computer. She/he should be aware that if any injury occurs as a result of the student fixing the computer, the teacher and his organisation could be prosecuted for negligent.

As part of the Assessment Stage, the role of the teacher is to be the assessor, recorder, marker, reviewer, provider of feedback, provider of guidance, etc. The responsibilities at this stage are, keeping record of student’s achievements, assessing work within an agreed time period, giving feedback by using a variety of assessment methods such initial, formative, summative, formal and informal and ensuring all his decisions are valid, reliable, fair and ethical. Teachers should not set learners up to fail.
Finally, in the Evaluation Stage, the teacher evaluates how well the programme was planned and delivered plus reflects on how it can be improved in the future. This is the period when the teacher encourages ongoing feedback from students and others and helps students achieve their full potential. Liaising internal/external verifiers and maintaining own professional development is also important. Teachers should be aware of learner feedback but any changes to the course content or delivery should only be made if they are in accordance with awarding body or organisational policy and will benefit the majority of learners.

Conclusion
In conclusion, one can see that to teach requires holistic approach with many responsibilities and covers many areas such as different methods of teaching, knowledge of relevant legislations and following professional code of conduct or practice. One needs to read widely and ensure to become familiar with even changing regulations within the teaching profession.

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