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Ways a Teacher Can Interact with Students in Class

Ways a Teacher Can Interact with Students in Class | ITTT | TEFL Blog

What is the role of the teacher? To meet the needs of the students, teachers will need to take on multiple roles in the classroom. Staying in one role for too long can hamper a student’s ability to learn. The lesson will become stagnant. As the stages of lesson progress, it is important for the teacher to change roles along with the type of activities.

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


Throughout the lessons, some activities will be more student-focused and others that will be more teacher-focused. It is good to have a mix of both. A role such as a controller is more teacher-focused. In this role, the teacher would be the focus in the classroom as they give explanations and instructions. The teacher oversees the class and the activity. There are some benefits and downsides to this role. A charismatic teacher could use this role to inspire students. On the downside, it can detract from the students’ experiences and gives them less time to practice the language themselves. Also, too long in the role can make the class boring. Hearing the teacher speak the whole time without getting a chance to practice may make the students zone out.

male teacher

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A more student-centered role would be acting as a resource. In this role, the teacher may withdraw from the activity to allow the students to practice among themselves without interruptions. However, the teacher is still there as a resource for students to ask questions to and to receive guidance. It is important to not spoon-feed the students. The role of the observer is also a little like the role of resource. They are similar in that they both are more hands-off with students compared to some other roles. The observer monitors the class, takes notes on the students, and makes sure to not distract students from the activity.


Sometimes a teacher may take on the role of a participant. In this role, the teacher participates in the lesson as an equal. This role can be used to help even the number of students for pair work and liven up the activity from inside rather from the outside. The participant role is also important in one-on-one lessons. In that case, the teacher must sometimes take on the role of a participant to help the student get more practice. The teacher must remember to not dominate the activity or to focus the attention on themselves.

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One role that is important to keeping a chaos free classroom is the organizer. The organizer organizes activities, gives instructions, and organizes students into pairs/groups. They will initiate activities and bring them to an end. Teachers must know how to play this role well. With a bad organizer, students will get confused about what they are supposed to do and there might be chaos that results from misunderstandings.


Sometimes a student becomes stuck and that is where the role of prompter comes in. It’s when a teacher gently encourages the student. While acting as a prompter, it is important to not take the control away from the student and to not put too much pressure on the student that they become upset or embarrassed.

male teacher and a young student

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As the teacher may be the only source of live English that the students will encounter in their day to day lives, the teacher will also have the role of the model to them. The teacher is where they will get their knowledge of grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary. The teacher will also need to act as an assessor to give feedback and corrections to students in their English. They will also be evaluating and grading the students. The tutor is another role a teacher may use to guide students when working individually or in pairs. Throughout all these roles, it is important to be fair, consistent, and to provide an equal amount of attention to all students.

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As one can see, there are many roles for a teacher to fill. The type of role a teacher uses should depend on what activity the teacher is doing. Some roles require the teacher to be more withdrawn while others require the teacher to lead. Knowing how to fill the roles and when to use them is vital in maintaining the class and helping the students learn English.

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