Here's Why Teachers Are Doing More Than Teaching
If you search for the word 'to teach' in the Cambridge Dictionary, the first response will be "to give someone knowledge or to train someone". Is it -really- all it is?
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Ayşe C. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Nowadays, most knowledge can be found on the internet. Even little kids who cannot read and write can search and browse the internet and find the desired content thanks to voice-activated search engines, images, and memes. So, in this day and age, do we "actually" need teachers? How much do we need them, or to what extent? Or, shouldn’t we rethink the role of the teacher and form it all over again?
Especially when it comes to young learners, a teacher's role cannot be evaluated only with 'teaching' in the definition of a dictionary. Even if we think about business English learners, it is unacceptable for a teacher to just stand in front of the whiteboard and lecture for forty minutes or so. As a teacher, we need to draw from a variety of techniques to become the leader of the classroom. What are the most underestimated, yet, important roles of a leader then?
Also Read: Do TEFL teachers need a second language?
Teaching is not only about giving the grammar points, handing out the worksheets, and homework, and expecting students to learn every single point in a dry, boring environment. A teacher should be able to create a colorful and entertaining context and environment so the students can be motivated to learn. During the engagement stage of the lesson, a teacher should be able to draw the attention of the students into the lesson with a variety of techniques, so from the beginning, the students will be engaged and be interested in the topic.
If a student can motivate him/herself, the teacher's job, of course, will be easier. On the other hand, this situation is very rare and a teacher should be able to motivate his/her students in the learning process. This can be done in numerous ways such as having a good rapport with students, knowing them, encouraging them, awarding them, and making them believe that nothing can stop them on the road of learning. Especially during the practice stage of the lesson, a lot of students keep themselves away because of the fear of making mistakes. A motivator should find that mistakes as a learning opportunity and reflect the joy of the opportunity to his/her students.
Problem Solver: In a classroom, a teacher will have a variety of students who have different learning skills, needs, and personal history. A teacher should be able to find quick solutions for different problems that occur, because of these differences, without interrupting the classroom dynamics or falling behind in the content. For example, even if the teacher doesn’t know the first language of the students, knowing about the common struggles in learning English (different alphabet system, not having some tenses in the first language, etc.), will help the teacher to be prepared and avoid some of the potential problems during the lesson.
Telling students what to do, or filling in the blanks for the students, etc., shouldn't be considered as effective teaching. A teacher's main role should be teaching students how to learn and help students understand their weaknesses so students can have continuous and consistent learning. A teacher should be a guide on the path of learning and enlighten the road. Allowing students to find their ways, rather than placing road signs everywhere and telling the students which direction they should have, a teacher needs to guide the student’s own discovery.
To be a mentor, first of all, a teacher should have deep knowledge about what s/he is teaching, and be prepared to transfer this knowledge to the students. A huge part of this role is that knowing how to ask questions and give feedback so the students can learn from their mistakes and because it is not told, but conceived from their experiences, the learning will be permanent.
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Overall, in today's society, we still need teachers, but the role of the teacher today is beyond the common traditional understanding. The journey starts with absorbing and accepting the difficulties of teaching and being prepared to wear different hats and salute the students in their joy of learning; because the joy of learning starts with the joy of teaching.
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