Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Role of the Teacher Essay Example for Free

The Role of the Teacher Essay Perhaps the most important factor in the learning environment is the teacher. This is because the most successful and accessible form of input for the learners in the learning environment is introduced by that of the teacher. The reason for this is somewhat obvious as the teacher is the primary focus and authority in the direction of any given topic. After all, they are there to teach. Essentially, when teachers talk in class they provide the learners with opportunities to develop and expand their comprehension in relation to the given subject. That is to say, that the teachers have the knowledge and it is their ultimate role to distribute this knowledge to the learners. However, this also extends to the significance of the zone of proximal development and the role of keeping the class focused. In relation to teaching English, the teacher can optimise this opportunity in choosing the relevant levels of vocabulary, structure, speed of delivery, degree of clarity, and range of register and style required in relation to the given topic. However, as we have concerned ourselves here, the delivery of teaching has come under scrutiny due to the aforementioned criticisms regarding testing in a formalised manner. This is particularly significant when the role of knowledge acquisition and group dynamics mentioned in the last section are taken into account. We will now return to some of the literature, theory and practise associated with the role of the teacher in the learning environment. The teacher is often perceived by children and learners as the leader of the learning environment. Essentially, they are perceived as the role model in relation to the learning process and therefore the group dynamic (Dornyei, 2003). There has been a great deal of research related to the nature of group dynamics in teaching that have indicated that without the understanding and/or application of the group dynamic, the teacher can unintentionally manipulate an environment that is not conducive to development and in many cases destructive with regards to learning outcomes. This is clearly a problem in relation to the criticisms associated with tests in the contemporary domain. The reason for this becomes apparent and can be seen in the theory and research related to group dynamics and the role of the teacher in the learning environment. For example, Hadfield indicates that the perception of the teacher as a leader and/or role model is in some way detached from the learning environment and the group dynamic. Further, to act upon this perception is given as a hugely significant disruptive factor in learning as it compromises the learner’s identity and inclination to disclose information by way of input. This is given by Hadfield explaining that: ‘From the point of view of emotional orientation, many teachers are not unlike the other members in their class groups. Great deals of the psychological processes that underlie group formation apply to teachers as well. For this reason, it may be particularly important for you at this stage to take part in the class room events as ordinary group members by joining as much as is feasible some of the ice breaking activities and, in a reciprocal fashion, sharing some personal information about yourself with the students. ’ (Hadfield, 1992, p. 17) In this key extract, a need for the teacher to acknowledge their position within, rather than above, the group dynamic is clearly outlined. Further, their role in providing group cohesion and productivity from within the group dynamic is given as essential to a cohesive group. From this perspective, we can assume that without knowledge of group dynamics and their own role within the group, the teacher would not realise their significance in the cohesion of the group and the need for extending and coordinating the focus of the class. This clearly has disruptive implications. Essentially, if the teacher were to perceive themselves as a leader and distributor of knowledge they may drag the group along leaving many of the group behind. The contrary positive effects of negating this form of teacher role are given by the findings of Broadfoot, who suggests that: Many pupils have found the opportunity of talking with their teachers on a one-to-one basis about achievements, experiences, needs and appropriate future targets a rewarding and helpful experience that has a positive effect on their motivation (Broadfoot et al, 1988). This shows that the role of teaching is significant in the nature of learning English. It indicates that the teacher is more than a distributor of predefined tests. It shows that although they are the leader of the learning environment, they should be immersed in it and be responsive to the inputs, goals and directions put forward by the children. This means that rather than maintaining a focus on testing the children, they should attempt to derive a focus and aim through following the feedback from the group. This means that continuous re-assessment rather than pre-defined testing is the primary tool to be used by the teacher. However, while we can perhaps reject the notion of a teacher role based upon top down input at this stage, we must still take into account the direction of learning. That is to say, that it would be unwise to allow the children and learners to simply guide the class outright and have the teacher allow the group to govern the class. For example, as well as losing focus and a sense of established knowledge, the children may form their own groups based upon friendships and other bonds that may disrupt the focus of learning and the acquiring new knowledge. We can perhaps view the teacher’s role as one looking to authentically allow for personal expression and social bonding. However, it must also be focused upon the input deriving from the class. If this is not observed then it is the suggestion at this point that it would be highly likely that there would be lower success in terms of acquired knowledge and a disruption to the process of input. It is with that we turn to the alternative forms of leading and assessing the focus of the group in the learning environment.

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