A role can be defined as an expected behaviour in a given individual social position. As Janet Kaback, Newark Public Schools usa
, explains, the role of the teacher
has evolved after the industrial revolution mostly due to advances in technology which have resulted in a shrinking and fast-paced global environment. A “smaller world” has changed the way that teacher
s teach and today, teaching students how to seek out their own knowledge has become a fundamental part of a teacher
This shift from a teacher
-centred to a student-centred way of teaching requires flexibility in switching between the various roles that modern day teacher
s need to adopt in their teaching style. This holds true for all teacher
s, most especially for tefl teacher
s who teach english
to foreign students and deal with cultural diversity. In his article, “Native Students Speak What makes a good teacher
?”, Thomas Peacock suggests that a teacher
should possess two kinds of characteristics: teaching and personal.
In an attempt to explore teaching characteristics, the secret to a good teacher
is the ability to adopt various roles in class depending on student needs. teacher
s can be:
• Controllers: standing at the front of the class, dictating what happens and allowing for little student interaction.
• Organisers: planning the lessons, giving students clear instructions, building rapport, and arranging various activities.
• Observers: allowing students to explore ideas on their own and then monitoring some mistakes for further correction and revision. In tefl
, this is especially true of Activate Stage activities during pair or group work.
• Prompters: giving a little push and encouragement for students to find the correct solution.
: providing additional support/ guidance to students when working individually or in small groups.
• Participants: pairing up with other students in specific activities (again, generally in Activate Stage sessions).
• Assessors: evaluating students and giving feedback to allow them to improve and progress.
• Facilitators: adopting a guiding/assisting/motivating approach in the learning process.
• Models: acting as role models to students who, by nature, tend to observe teacher
s closely. This behaviour can affect students positively and enhances the learning process.
• Managers: this incorporates classroom management which involves organisation, record-keeping, planning and the need to incorporate any changes in the curriculum into lesson plans; behaviour management where classroom discipline is maintained; and, performance management in relation to curricular activities and student progress and performance.
• Mentors: becoming aware of students’ changing needs and adapting the level of attention, advice, assistance and encouragement provided to students.
Moving on to personal characteristics, Peacock emphasises being friendly, caring, and patient and showing respect to students. However, an article entitled “A Journey into Learning, 10 Characteristics of Highly Effective teacher
s” lists other personal characteristics that are fundamental to the role of efl
s in order to ensure success in the teaching process:
1. A ‘Calling’ for the profession
2. Professional knowledge
3. Personal qualities
4. With-it-ness: The skill of planning with an awareness of the objectives and the conditions.
5. Instructional Effectiveness: teaching well yet with a very high level of flexibility and a wide range of expertise.
6. Good communicator
7. Street smart: Knowing about who you teach and cultural implications.
8. Willing to go the extra mile
9. Lifelong learner: wanting to keep abreast of developments and new teaching techniques....carrying out research, attending conferences, participating in online forums, etc to enhance personal development.
10. Life outside the classroom
The way teacher
s interact with students and the tasks they perform are critical components in successful teaching, necessary to achieve progress and results in the learning process. To quote Jeremy Harmer:
s listen and watch, and use both professional and personal skills to respond to what they see and hear. Good teacher
s have a knack of responding by doing things ‘right’, and that is most definitely an art.”
In conclusion, a teacher
’s role today is multi-faceted, needing to choose the most suitable role according to the situation and needs of the class. It is this innate flexibility combined with the correct personal characteristics that distinguishes good teacher
s and makes them successful.
A Journey Into Learning, 10 Characteristics of Highly Effective teacher
McEwan, E K, How to survive and strive in the first three weeks of school, 2002.
Harmer Jeremy, How to Teach english
, Pearson Education Ltd., Essex, 2009.