What Is The Role Of A Teacher?

"I am beginning to think about what I want to choose as a career. I am still a student in high school, and I am thinking about teaching. What is the role of a teacher, exactly? More specifically, what are the roles and responsibilities of this profession?"

asked by Andrew W. from Portland, Oregon

A teacher, simply put, is one who teaches. However, a teacher is much more than that. A teacher is, of course, one who educates children, adolescents, or adults (young and old!) in ways that allow the students to acquire knowledge and understand a specific concept. That is the main responsibility of the teacher, but within that responsibility comes many other obligations in order to make the teaching and learning process achievable for every student. In addition to the teaching and learning process (and the challenges that come with this process, and other responsibilities) teaching is a deeply rewarding career. Many children will learn on your watch, and grow to be successful in life because of you. That’s pretty rewarding!

Teachers undeniably have many roles and responsibilities throughout their career. These are of equal importance, as teachers must be well-rounded individuals who are able to adhere to the many obligations required to be successful in their positions. There is much that goes on “behind the scenes” of this occupation. So much, in fact, teachers can at times feel immensely overloaded with the responsibilities that must be performed and upheld.

When a teacher is educating students during the school day, they are thinking of many aspects of the lessons and active learning of the students. When a teacher plans his lessons, he must look at specific learning styles of the students and cater to those learning styles. Some students may be visual learners, where seeing illustrations and videos enable them to grasp the concept. Some students are hands-on learners, which means they must be active in their learning by touching and feeling, or working with items that relate to the content. Other students are auditory learners, and these learners learn best by listening. Taking these different learning styles into consideration, the teacher must plan each lesson using different methods in order to reach the diverse learners. It may seem very overwhelming to do all of this, however, all teachers are trained to do this, and the learning outcomes will be much greater. So through all of the work required to plan lessons, the teacher takes on much satisfaction knowing that the students grasp each concept!

When planning to impart a particular objective, a teacher must have an amazing amount of knowledge on the best techniques and strategies to use to ensure the learners understand and comprehend it. A teacher has hundreds of objectives to teach, each broken down into specific “strands” according to the state teaching objectives. Hundreds. And they must plan each lesson using research-based instruction techniques. In order to keep abreast of the most modern methods, teachers are required to take classes and attend in-services throughout their career. Remember, teachers are forever learning! Many teachers enjoy doing this, as they love their career and are passionate about giving the best instruction possible to the students.

Another role of the teacher is to assess data. When an instructor gives a test, whether it is a pre-assessment, an assessment to check for understanding, or a post-assessment, he must look at the results carefully and sort out the results to see what students need extra help in a particular area, and what students can move on to the next concept. It is the teacher’s job to ensure that the children that do not understand the content, even after it is taught, receive extra help, but at the same time challenge and enrich those that already show mastery in a particular concept. Differentiating instruction to allow all of the students to effectively learn is certainly not an easy task, especially with a large class size, but it can be done with careful planning and the knowledge of best-practice and methodology of teaching.

One of the most challenging responsibilities that a teacher is accountable for is classroom management. Honestly, this is the one area in which college doesn’t really teach you. You learn in college techniques and organizational skills to handle a classroom of children, but there is no way you are fully prepared until you experience it first-hand. Many experienced teacher still have nightmares about their first year of teaching, and most of them are due to classroom management, or lack thereof. A teacher must manage talkative children, disruptive children, children that do not want to do classwork, students that are gifted and already “know it all”, and must keep the room neat and organized. Maintaining a quiet and structured classroom, while teaching a small group of children at a given time, is certainly not easy. It takes a few years of teaching to be successful in this area for many people, and it is just something that you have to do on your own and with the advice of colleagues. Student teaching gives you an idea of how to manage a classroom, but since it is technically not your own classroom, it really just scrapes the surface. A teacher must have awareness of what is happening at all times in a class of twenty or more children. This is difficult at first, but does develop over time. Once it develops, and the teacher has a system in place (and knows what works and what doesn’t), the satisfaction of having a properly organized and managed classroom is immense.

Professionalism is vital in every teaching career. If you become a teacher, you must always remain professional and conduct yourself in a professional manner. Certainly, all teachers have private lives, and that is fine, but during the school day and when out in the community, you want to be sure you have a proper code of conduct. This includes keeping all information about your school and classroom confidential, showing respect for yourself and others, keeping your private life private, and behaving in a proper manner. Remember, you are a role model wherever you go for students, community members, and parents!

Teaching is an intense career. It is intensely rewarding, and intensely demanding. Educators are expected to do their very best every day, with every single child, parent, and administration member, and often continue to work during after-school hours to keep organized and to do clerical work. However, many teachers feel that the positives greatly outweigh the negatives. If you love children, and have the desire to teach, then teaching may be the perfect career choice for you!

Career Spotlight: Teacher



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