The Role of the Teacher in the Learning Environment
By creating an environment in which students are encouraged to feel comfortable and motivated to improve, students can better absorb information from the teacher and each other, and in doing so, improve their language abilities. So whilst the teacher has several different roles and objectives for themselves and their students, the fundamental role of the teacher is to cultivate a positive learning environment. As such, it's most important for the teacher to establish and maintain rapport, to encourage respectful discourse, to consider the sensitivities of students, and encourage confidence. Although there are many different roles and objectives for a teacher to be working towards, it's the relationship with the students and the culture in the classroom that is at the core of all other considerations, and considering that its the primary aim of the teacher of to increase linguistic proficiency in the students it's highly important that classroom culture be congenial to the student's development. In this sense, classroom management is a chief concern of the teacher.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Finlay B. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
There are many different components to ensuring a positive environment in the classroom.
It is imperative to be aware of the experience of individual students. Although it's necessary to be aware of their competencies with the new language and the coursework in general, individual students will exhibit differing levels of confidence. If a student is not confident to put into the discussion or provide their answers, it can be difficult for a teacher to gauge their progress. This can create real problems for the student down the line, and make it difficult for the teacher to prescribe work for them or help them to catch up. If a student is feeling deterred from speaking in the discussion they are missing out on a key component of linguistic development. It's unlikely that they are getting the chance to push themselves with a new language, and they are unlikely to be reaching their potential.
Similarly, some students (especially amongst younger learners) are likely to be unmotivated or uninterested. Oftentimes this is because students have not elected to be in class or to study a language. In this situation, students are less poised to retain information and are likely not only to be distracted themselves but to distract others, which can easily derail a lesson.
In both of these cases, the teacher needs to be having individual dialogues with each student, ensuring that they are aware of their experiences, and gaining the ability to monitor their progress, and create plans to improve their performance.
But perhaps more importantly, this is the first step for a teacher to manage the class at the level of the individual and the class as a whole.
Also Read: 3 Key Strategies for Teaching Young Learners
Rapport building techniques
For the teacher to create an environment in which students are best poised to benefit from the class, they have to maintain rapport with individual students and provide encouraging discourse, displaying a level of care and respect. At the level of the class as a whole, the teacher must regulate discussion between students by setting a standard them-self. This involves setting a tone of positivity and confidence, tailoring Engage phase activities to create interest in the content, and delivering the content to the same level of motivation that they expect to see in the students. Classroom management is a key skill to this end, and being that discourse between peers is a significant factor of the student experience. It's essential that the teacher set a standard of respectful treatment of others, of teacher authority, and interest in new material.
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By keeping up with the individual experiences of students, and regulating the class as a whole, the teacher can create a culture in the classroom that engages students with the coursework. Classroom management is a key skill for the teacher, and though there may be many other considerations, it’s creating a positive learning environment that is most conducive to student progress. The fundamental role of the teacher is to be involved in the individual and group level, be positive and confident, and generate motivation in the content.
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