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The Four Roles of a Teacher

The Four Roles of a Teacher | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Many people think that teachers are just people with knowledge and teach; however, teachers are way more than that. There is a Chinese old saying, “Being a teacher for one day, respect them as a father for life.” What this means is that teachers usually have many responsibilities, just like students’ parents. Most of the time, teachers need to adapt to various roles in different situations during the class or even outside of the class. The five main roles that teachers play are instructor, controller, role model, and counselor.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Yang L. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

1. Instructor

When most people mention the teacher, they are thinking of the role of the instructor, the "knower" of specific knowledge. They are the resource center ready to help students if needed. Most teachers play this role when they are teaching a class. Students expect their instructors to know what they don’t and able to teach them. For example, an English teacher is playing the role of the instructor when he is teaching grammar, explaining the structure of the English language, demonstrating correct grammar form, and answering questions. Basically, the role of the instructor is when the teacher gives out information to the students helping them learn and understand.

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2. Controller

The controller is the role that the teacher is in complete charge of the classroom. There are many responsibilities for this role, such as give instructions to students, control the pace of the lesson, maintain class discipline, etc. For example, teachers are the controller of the classroom when they instruct students to do a certain activity. The teacher must have overall control of the classroom because it helps the lesson progress better.

teacher in front of students

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3. Role Model

Teachers usually do not think of themselves as role models. However, Teachers are typically being respected by people in the community. And the student spends a lot of time with their teacher and look up to teachers and may shadow their behavior. Therefore, the teacher usually becomes a role model for them. This can be either positive or negative. For example, the teacher instructs the student to read a paragraph in the book, but the teacher himself/herself playing the phone while the students are reading. Students see that teacher is not paying attention when they are reading, they might stop paying attention to the class. Hence, setting a good example for the students is very important because they are the role model.

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4. Mentor

A counselor or mentor is one of the biggest roles a teacher may have. Every student may have some problems either in their personal life or in the classroom. They might go to the teacher to get help and ask for advice. Especially when students have some issues and they do not feel comfortable to let their parents know, they will most likely ask the teacher for advice if they have a good relationship with the teacher. Moreover, mentoring is a great way a teacher encourages students to be the best they can, such as enjoy what they do in class.

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There are many more roles a teacher needs to play, learner, supporter, assessor, organizer, etc. Regardless of what role the teacher plays, they should be able to improve student learning and influence them in a good way. A well-educated person not only have a good parent, but they must also have had a very good teacher.

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