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The Many Roles of the Teacher in the ESL Classroom

The Many Roles of the Teacher in the ESL Classroom | ITTT | TEFL Blog

The role of a teacher is constantly changing throughout the day. The teacher’s role can be influenced by: the lesson, the students, and the circumstances that might arise during a classroom session. Teachers frequently perform various roles when teaching students, some of these roles include: instructor, facilitator, mentor, psychologist, counselor, and policeman.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Giuseppe T.

A teacher can act as an instructor.

The role of instructor is the role most people associate with teachers of any subject – sometime referred to as the expert or the “knower” of a certain body of knowledge. This portrays teachers as being all-knowing figures, with the expectation of having access to a never-ending wellspring of knowledge and information in whatever area or subject they are teaching. Being a substitute teacher does not seem to matter to students, as they expect the substitute to possess the same level of expertise a regular teacher would have.

Also read: How Teaching Slang Can Benefit Your ESL Students

A teacher can act as a facilitator.

The role of facilitator is a role that is not obvious to everyone, but plays an immense part in providing students with the necessary environment needed for learning. While in this role, the teacher often times alters the classroom layout in order to facilitate an environment suitable for more student talk time, pair and group activities, or independent work and testing. The facilitator role permits teachers to setup a functional layout in order to be available to students at any time, all while keeping the class organized, free from distractions, and on task.

A teacher can act as a mentor.

The role of mentor is much more straight forward the some of the other roles, as it is quite simple to understand and observe. When a teacher plays this role, they are the role models for the students. This means every action a teacher takes is being observed, scrutinized, and emulated by students. The level of influence every teacher holds over each individual student is different; consequently, all teachers must be more self-aware when in front of students, so they do not become known as negative role models.

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A teacher can act as a psychologist.

The role of psychologist is much more delicate than most roles, and need not be taken too lightly. When a teacher plays this role, they are typically dealing with the personal problems of one or more students in their class. These students may be dealing with any number of problems outside the classroom. In such an instance, the role of psychologist requires a teacher to provide emotional support to each individual student.

A teacher can act as a counselor.

The role of counselor is pretty simple to understand and perform; it places a teacher in the greatest position possible for the influencing of students and their futures. This role asks teachers to become advisors to students who need guidance in selecting a path for future endeavors. Even though it may be simple to perform the role of counselor, it is not always easy to constantly give out sage advice to each and every student who needs guidance.

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A teacher can act as a policeman.

Lastly, the role of policeman is just what it sounds like, as the teacher has to become a type of law enforcement officer who controls crowds, breaks-up disputes, and helps keep the peace. When operating under the policeman role, a teacher must be the bringer of law-and-order in an otherwise unruly classroom. Substitute teachers typically have problems operating under this role, as many students feel that substitute teachers have no authority over them and are unable to delegate any sort of punishments. This role is not easy in the least and may require many years of practice and experience to master.

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