The role of the teacher

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THE ROLE OF THE TEACHER.

It will be clear that the way the teacher behaves in these different kind of activities will change according to the nature of the activities.

Perhaps the most important distinction to be drawn here is between the roles of controller and facilitator, since these two concepts represent opposite ends of a cline of control and freedom. A controller stands at the front ofthe class like a puppet-master of mistress controlling everything; a facilitator maintains a low profile in order to make the students’ own achievement of a task possible.

We will indicate where the different roles we are about to discuss can be placed on this cline. We will examine the roles an controller, assessor, organizer, prompter, participant, resource, tutor and investigator.

The teacheras controller.

As we had said, teachers as controllers are in complete charge of the class. They control not only what the students do, but also when they speak and what language they use.

Certain stages of a lesson lend themselves to this role very well. The introduction of new language, where it makes use of accurate reproduction and drilling techniques, needs to be carefully organized. Thusthe instruct-cue-nominate cycle is the perfect example of the teacher acting as controller. All attention is focused on the front of the class, and the students are all working to the same beat.

The teacher as controller is closely allied to the image that teachers project of themselves. Some appear to be natural leaders and performers, while some are quieter and feel happier when students areinteracting amongst themselves. Where teachers are addicted to being the center of attention they tend to find it difficult not to perform the controlling role and this has both advantages and disadvantages.

We can all recall teachers in our past who were able to inspire us. Frequently this was because they possessed a certain indefinable quality which attracted and motivated us. Frequently, too,it was because they had interesting things to say and do which held our attention and enthusiasm. The same is true in language classes. Some teachers have a gift so inspiring and motivating us even though they never seem to relax their control. And at their best teachers who are able to mix the controlling role with a good “performance” are extremely enjoyable to be taught by or observed.

Whenteachers are acting as controllers, they tend to do a lot of the talking, and whilst we may feel uneasy about the effect this has on the possibilities for students talking time it should be remembered that it is frequently the teacher, talking at the students’ level of comprehension, who is the most important source they have for roughly-tuned comprehensive input.

We should not let these advantagesfool us, however, into accepting the controller role as the only one that the teacher has. It is vital that control should be relaxed if students are to be allowed a chance to learn (rather than be taught). Even during immediate creativity teachers will have begun to relax their grip, and during communicative speaking and writing their role must be fundamentally different, otherwise the studentwill not have a chance to participate properly.

The teacher as assessor.

Clearly a major part of the teacher’s job is to assess the students’ work, to see how well they are performing or how well they performed. Not only is this important pedagogically, but the students quite naturally expect it, even after communicative activities.

We must make a difference between two types of assessment:correction and organizing feedback.

During a accurate reproduction stage, where the teacher is totally in control, student error and mistake will be corrected almost instantly. The teacher’s function, we have suggested, is to show where incorrectness occurs and help the student to see what has gone wrong so that it can be put right.
A slightly less forma style of correction can occur where students...
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