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Teachers and Learners Role in the Educational Process

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Topics: Education
TEACHER´S VERSUS LEARNER´S ROLES

Jaroslava Kunstová, ČR

Abstract: The article describes the roles of teachers and learners in the educational process. It introduces a basic terminology, presents teacher´s and learner´s roles, competences in the educational process as well as some other factors which influence their roles.

Key words: teacher, learner, roles, competences, relationship, interaction, individualization.

Introduction
The relationship between teacher and learner is forming gradually, and furthermore we can´t suppose that it will be stable forever. So, the participants must look after and develop it permanently. The teachers and learners hold various roles in the educational process and we think that the comprehension of the roles can make their mutual relationship better. For this reason, we will provide the reader with some basic roles, competences and other relevant factors which are important for effective learning environment. Wanjryb (1992) describes a group of learners with a teacher as a learning community. The human element shapes human interaction qualitatively and may perhaps furnish the key to what happens and what eventuates. Hopefully, the topic indicates in some way how to manage teaching and learning and how to be a good teacher.

Teacher´s roles and competences
The roles of the teacher can be described in different ways. Firstly, we must begin with the short explanation of the concept of roles. Oxford Dictionary (2005) describes a role as: an actor´s part; the function or position that person has or is expected to have; the function assumed by a person or thing in a particular situation. Nunan (1989) explains that in the educational environment the term role refers to the part that learners and teachers are expected to play in performing various learning tasks as well as the social and interpersonal relationships between the participants. There are literary hundreds of authors who deal with this topic. Some authors refer to teacher´s tasks, functions, competences etc. which is mainly the matter of terminology because the terms are linked to one another.
The classification of teacher´s roles can vary because this area is presented diversely by many authors. We will present the opinions and classifications of different authors which enable us to compare various theories as well as obtain a comprehensive view on this issue. Harden and Crosby (2000) present six basic roles of the teacher. These are: the information provider, the role model, the facilitator, the assessor, the planner and the resource developer. Similar classification presents Brown (1994). His description of interactive teacher includes the following roles: the teacher as controller (teacher must maintain control over the class to organize the lesson), the teacher as director (he keeps the educational process flowing efficiently), the teacher as manager (he plans lessons and courses, organises the lesson timing etc.), the teacher as facilitator (he facilitates the process of learning and makes it easier for learners), the teacher as resource (teacher provides advice and counsel).
This issue is also examined by Breen and Candlin (1980) who claim that the teacher has three main roles. The first is to act as a facilitator of the educational process, the second is to act as a participant and finally the third is to act as a spectator and learner. For comparison Richards and Rodgers (1986) explain that teacher´s roles are related to the following issues: different types of functions which teachers fulfil, the degree of control that the teacher has, the degree to which the teacher is responsible for the content and interactional patterns that develop relationship between teachers and learners. The roles of teachers and learners can be complementary. If the learners gain a different role, the teacher will have to adopt a different role too. For example, if the role of the learner is rather active, teacher´s activity will reduce.
Edge (1993) emphasises the importance of thinking about learners and teachers as whole people because their individuality can be a source of learning. He declares that all teachers are different. „You can be a great teacher for some people, an alright teacher for some, and you will be a poor teacher for other. The challenge is to go on developing into the teacher you most want to be.” (Edge, 1993, p. 11)
Edge (1993) describes the teacher as the most powerful person in the classroom. There exist various ways for the teacher to use that power. The most important things that must be taken into consideration are: • Organisation - learners need to feel supported and their activities must have clear purpose. • Security - learners will be more able to participate in the lesson if they feel safe. • Motivation - it increases their need to be involved in classwork. Learners are motivated when they experience success, when they see the relevance of classwork or simply by working on interesting tasks. • Instruction - learners need to know how to do new things. • Modelling - learners need to be shown how to do it. • Guidance - this represents a helping hand to discover new things. • Information - except basic information learners need sources of extra information. • Feedback - learners need teacher´s response about how close they are getting to their targets. • Encouragement - learners need teacher´s support, especially if they fail in some task. • Evaluation - learners want to be informed how well or badly they have performed, they need to know where they stand.
Every teacher must notify that he is not only the information provider, the task of being a teacher is more complicated. If the educational process should be successful and effective, the teacher must have relevant competences. According to Píšová (1999) these are: personal and technical competences, clinical competence and also critical. The first group - personal and technical competences - covers planning and preparation, organisation of teaching processes, class management, assessment of pupils´ progress, professional knowledge and administrative skills. Clinical competence relates to diagnosing causes to learning or behaviour problems and finding solutions. And critical competence is connected mainly with knowledge of educational system (understanding of schools as institutions, teacher´s rights and duties etc.).
According to Common European Framework (2001) teachers´ role is wide-ranging: they respect any official guidelines, use course materials, devise tests and prepare learners for qualifying examinations. They have to make minute-to-minute decisions about classroom activities and adjust flexibly to current circumstances. At the same time, they are expected to monitor the progress of learners, find ways of analysing and overcoming learning problems, as well as developing individual learning abilities. It is necessary for them to understand learning processes in great variety and respect learners´ needs.

Learner´s roles and competences
There is a close relationship between learner´s and teacher´s roles. Their roles can be completely different in one task, in another task they can merge and complement. Sometimes the teacher and learner can also interchange the roles. The nature of roles mostly depends on specific target of the task. The teacher must become aware of learner´s role at a specific moment to be able to coordinate it with own teacher´s role.
Kreis (2004) clarifies these roles of the learners: • Listener - learner listens for details in order to understand the problem and increase his knowledge. • Writer - learner analyses and integrates information through writing. • Researcher - uses a systematic process of gathering information to analyse and interpret given issue. • Team member - works on projects as part of a team and support group learning. • Case study worker - analyses case studies to identify and understand the underlying rules. • Apprentice - develops knowledge and skills by working in it under the direction of the teacher. • Context explorer - learner gains knowledge of how others view a problem by exploring the context they bring to the process (emotions, attitudes, behaviour etc.). • Speaker - orally presents own opinions, acquired knowledge etc. • Builder - learner constructs the knowledge products (essay, portfolio etc.).
Different classification is presented by Richards and Rodgers (1986) and includes the following roles of the learners: • Learner is the passive recipient who listens to the teacher and has no control over the content or methods. • Learner is a listener and performer who has little influence over the content. • Learner is an interactor and negotiator and has an active role in educational process. • Learner is involved in a social activity and works as a member of a social group. • Learner is completely involved in a process, must become independent and autonomous. • Learner is responsible for own learning, developing autonomy and has relatively high degree of control over the content of learning.
As Nunan (1989) aptly remarks, the roles of teachers and learners can be in many ways complementary. Giving the learners a different role requires the teacher to accept a different role too. And one role should be specially highlighted - that is the student as an independent learner. Common European Framework (2001) remarks that learners should be brought increasingly to make choices in respect of objectives, materials and working methods in the light of their own needs, motivations, characteristics and resources. The current approach emphasises the pupil-oriented curriculum which calls for active learners. Teacher´s and learner´s roles can depend on their personality and thus human individuality affects the process of teaching and learning. Edge (1993) points out that all learners are different. No two individuals have the same knowledge, skills, experience, behaviour etc. Furthermore, they are influenced by their age and by different social and cultural background. No wonder that some learners are more successful than others.
A good teacher should consider these characteristics and respect learner´s individuality. Firstly, Edge (1993) reminds that teachers must not see the learners as learning machines because learning is not just an intellectual process. Learners may have many other things on their minds therefore all aspects of humanity have to be respected. Secondly, teachers have to inform themselves about their learners. All teachers have to be sensitive to cultural background, social distinctions, personal needs and learning styles of individuals. And thirdly, teachers have to provide conditions in which learners are encouraged. In any class the learners are at different stages of personal and intellectual development therefore the teacher must respect learner´s individuality. Personality significantly affects how we react under different circumstances. It is important to realise that we can not use the same attitude to all learners. It belongs to teacher´s duty to know properly all the learners. The concept of individualization is unavoidable.

How to be a good teacher
There have been discussed many thoughts that are essential in teacher´s profession. In addition to the issues which have been looked in the previous chapters, there are many others which are related to this topic. It is not possible to give a clear answer to the question „How to be a good teacher” because it depends on the perspective of the person making a judgement. So, this question can be answered in many different ways.
Sesnan (1997) presents a list of factors which are common for good teachers: • They know their subject well. • They understand what you already knew and what you still have to learn. • They want you to do well. • They make their lessons enjoyable. • They use a lot of materials and effective teaching methods. • They always make sure that you understand the subject before starting something new.
Sesnan (1997) summarizes the qualities of a good teacher in three main points: • a good teacher knows what to teach (the subject matter, knowing the subject), • a good teacher knows how to teach (the appropriate methodology of teaching), • a good teacher is „on the side of the pupils“, he realises their strengths and weaknesses and always help them to make a progress.
In this context Harmer (1998) adds that good teachers should possess an ability to give interesting lessons, using the full range of their personality, the desire to emphatise with learners and treating them all equally. Scott and Ytreberg (1990) remark that teachers come to the job with their personalities already formed, but there are abilities and attitudes which can be learnt and worked on. As the teacher of young learners, it helps if the teacher has a sense of humour, is adaptable, patient, open-minded etc. But even if the teacher is the silent and reserved type, he can develop his attitudes and abilities. The most important thing is respect all learners and be realistic what they can manage at individual levels. Too demanding or too poor requirements should be discouraging for learners, thus teacher´s expectations must be realistic. Another thing is that teachers have to adopt an equally attitude to all pupils.
Harmer (1998) shares the similar opinion. He admits that the character and personality of the teacher is a crucial issue in the classroom. However, being a good teacher does not relate so much to teachers themselves, but rather to their relationship with students. It is the heart of the matter.
Very interesting point of view gives Ur (1991). She says that teachers who have been teaching for twenty years may be sorted into two groups: those with twenty years´ experience and those with one year´s experience repeated twenty times. In other words, sheer time on the job does not secure plentiful experience and professional progress. Therefore, good teachers must develop throughout their professional lives and innovate teaching strategies. Ur (1991) mentions some useful tools for further development and emphasises the importance of private refection and interaction with colleagues. Personal reflection is the first stimulus for professional progress and necessary basis for further development. No less important is sharing experience with a colleague. Informal discussions with a colleague contribute a lot to teacher´s development. Another way is making observations with the colleague. For example, teachers can make a mutual arrangement to observe each other and share feedback. Obvious sources of feedback can be also own students. It can be strange for some teachers to ask the learners for feedback on their teaching – perhaps because they are afraid of losing face or authority. Actually, students do not solve this. Moreover, they appreciate being consulted and try to give genuine feedback. To sum it up, permanent teacher development can solve problems caused by both first-year stress or later burn-out syndrom. Besides, it is an instrument to satisfaction in professional work today and to teacher´s career in the future. Without any doubt, good teachers must think about their work, be self-critical and try to develop themselves.
Prodromou (1992) concludes that the term good is a very relative one. „The “good” teacher should be able to adapt his or his style and range of activities to suit individual needs, no matter how large or mixed a group is. Thus, “good” must be seen, not as a finite term, but one needing infinite interpretations.” (Prodromou, 1992, p. 31)
Being a good teacher corresponds with the roles that have been described above. Hopefully, it will encourage teachers to improve their potential, develop teaching skills and realize the relevance to teacher´s roles.

Conclusion
The way that teachers talk to students and interact with them belongs to the most important principles in the educational process. When considering teacher´s and learner´s roles, many factors need to be taken into account. The article provides a reader with the different roles and competences that participants hold in the educational process. Hopefully, the appreciation and uderstanding of this issue could increase the efficiency as well as enjoyment of learning and teaching.

Bibliography:
BREEN, M.; CANDLIN, C. The essentials of a communicative curriculum in language teaching. Applied Linguistics, 1 (2), p. 89-112, 1980.

BROWN, D. Teaching by principles: an interactive approach to language pedagogy. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Regents, 1994.

COMMON EUROPEAN FRAMEWORK OF REFERENCE FOR LANGUAGES. Cambridge: CUP, 2001.

EDGE, J. Essentials of English Language Teaching. London and New York: Longman, 1993.

HARDEN, R., CROSBY, J. The good teacher is more than a lecturer. [online]. 2000, [citation 2011-11-15], accessible at: http://esmeprogramme.org/amee2006/pdffiles/AMEE20.PDF

HARMER, J. How to Teach English. Harlow: Longman, 1998.

KREIS, J. Learner and Instructor Roles. [online]. 2004, [citation 2011-12-15], accessible at: http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/NLI0547C.pdf

KUNSTOVÁ, J. The Roles of Foreign Language Teachers at Lower Secondary Schools. The final work. Olomouc: PdF UP, 2011.

NUNAN, D. Designing Tasks for the Communicative Classroom. Cambridge: CUP, 1989.

OXFORD ADVANCED LEARNER´S DICTIONARY. Oxford: OUP, 2005.

PÍŠOVÁ, M. Novice Teacher. Pardubice: Institute of Languages and Humanities, 1999.

PRODROMOU, L. Mixed ability classes. London and Basingstoke: Macmillan Publishers Ltd, 1992.

RICHARDS, J., RODGERS, T. Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching. Cambridge: CUP, 1986.

SCOTT, W.; YTREBERG, L. Teaching English to Children. Harlow: Longman, 1990.

SESNAN, B. How to Teach English. Oxford: OUP, 1997.

UR, P. A Course in Language Teaching. Cambridge: CUP, 1991.

WAJNRYB, R. Classroom Observation Tasks. Cambridge: CUP, 1992.

Contact:
Mgr. Jaroslava Kunstová
Univerzita Palackého v Olomouci
Pedagogická fakulta, Ústav pedagogiky a sociálních studií
Žižkovo náměstí 5, 771 40 Olomouc, ČR
E-mail: j_kunstova@centrum.cz

Bibliography: BREEN, M.; CANDLIN, C. The essentials of a communicative curriculum in language teaching. Applied Linguistics, 1 (2), p. 89-112, 1980. BROWN, D. Teaching by principles: an interactive approach to language pedagogy. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Regents, 1994. COMMON EUROPEAN FRAMEWORK OF REFERENCE FOR LANGUAGES. Cambridge: CUP, 2001. EDGE, J. Essentials of English Language Teaching. London and New York: Longman, 1993. HARDEN, R., CROSBY, J. The good teacher is more than a lecturer. [online]. 2000, [citation 2011-11-15], accessible at: http://esmeprogramme.org/amee2006/pdffiles/AMEE20.PDF HARMER, J KREIS, J. Learner and Instructor Roles. [online]. 2004, [citation 2011-12-15], accessible at: http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/NLI0547C.pdf KUNSTOVÁ, J NUNAN, D. Designing Tasks for the Communicative Classroom. Cambridge: CUP, 1989. OXFORD ADVANCED LEARNER´S DICTIONARY. Oxford: OUP, 2005. PÍŠOVÁ, M. Novice Teacher. Pardubice: Institute of Languages and Humanities, 1999. PRODROMOU, L. Mixed ability classes. London and Basingstoke: Macmillan Publishers Ltd, 1992. RICHARDS, J., RODGERS, T. Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching. Cambridge: CUP, 1986. SCOTT, W.; YTREBERG, L. Teaching English to Children. Harlow: Longman, 1990. SESNAN, B. How to Teach English. Oxford: OUP, 1997. UR, P. A Course in Language Teaching. Cambridge: CUP, 1991. WAJNRYB, R. Classroom Observation Tasks. Cambridge: CUP, 1992.

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