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Challenges in Education: The Role of a Modern Teacher

Updated on March 17, 2017
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

Science graduate and business advisor, health educator and author, Beth writes articles on a wide variety of subjects.

Traditional teaching with chalk and blackboard.
Traditional teaching with chalk and blackboard. | Source

The Role of the Teacher is Changing

Traditionally, a teacher was seen as a figure of authority. Their knowledge and experience was respected by the community. They used rote learning, standardized written exercises and formal tests to instruct their pupils. Children were expected to be seen and not heard, and to be a disciplined ordered body rather than a group of individuals with differing needs. The teacher’s role was one of instilling discipline and maintaining control. Learning was conducted in regimented classrooms. The child’s attention in class was attained through their having to sit (and pass) a regular series of knowledge and fact-based tests.

The Modern Teacher Has Many Talents

Here are just a few of the roles a teacher must perform in today’s classroom:

  • Guide students on individualized learning pathways and foster creativity
  • Identify relevant learning resources
  • Create interactive and group learning opportunities
  • Provide insight and learning support to students, both inside and outside the classroom environment

What Great Teachers Do Differently: 17 Things That Matter Most contains advice and information on how the best teachers work. These leaders create productive and happy learning environments in their classrooms.

But it's not just the role of teachers that is changing. The role of students is also evolving and this is described in the video below.

Changing Roles of Teachers and Leaners

Multi-Tasking in a Modern Classroom

Teaching methods and the role of the teacher have changed in recent years. Better communication networks have made the world seem smaller. The internet has made information accessible to everyone, students as well as parents and teachers. The result is that modern students are being encouraged to carry out more independent learning. They have the facilities to complete their own research.

To back up this new-found independence, a modern teacher needs to equip students with the skills to judge the reliability of information found on the Web. A modern teacher’s role is not just an educator but also a facilitator and coach. Students are encouraged to not only gather factual information, but also use reasoning skills to make the most of their global sources.

The changing role of the modern teacher means that their job has become more complex. As money, time, and equipment are squeezed due to political constraints, the pressure on these professionals can increase. The video below shows a Canadian politician commenting on the multi-tasking role expected of a modern teacher in public schools.

Role of Modern Day Teachers is Changing

Improving Students Learning Experience

Modern classrooms are much more informal than they were twenty years ago. It is vital for a teacher to be able to control student behavior in their classroom. This does not mean that students need to sit in formal rows. Students often work in small groups involving discussion and co-operation. However a good teacher keeps a watchful eye on all the groups and remains the leader of the classroom. A teacher’s role now includes being able to control these dispersed groups of students. The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher is an essential guide for anyone new to classroom teaching. A modern teacher needs to be able to determine whether or not learning is taking place (or whether the students are chatting about their social life instead).

Creating the Right Learning Environment

For effective learning to take place the classroom environment must be right. The exact meaning of what is “right” varies through the school day. The students need to be motivated and confident that their efforts are worthwhile. Sometimes learning needs a studious and calm classroom. At other times an energetic and upbeat environment is more engaging.

Individual students also have their own ways of learning. Some respond well to group work, while others like to find things out for themselves. Some students remember facts that are presented in a visual way rather than the written word. Other students learn through carrying out activities for themselves. Making the learning experience unique to match each student’s needs means more work for the teacher. But the end result is that better and more effective learning takes place.

Professional Teaching

What is the role of a modern teacher?

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Tablets, Teaching and Smart Technology

A major change in modern classrooms has been the arrival of smart technology. This enables a teacher to project media from a PC laptop onto a whiteboard so that the whole class can view it as a group. The interactive smart technology means that the whiteboard becomes a giant touchscreen. The first time I saw this, I thought it was a modern form of magic!

Lesson planning has to be adjusted to take account of the more interactive nature of smart technology. An enthusiastic teacher can enhance students learning through using all the resources freely available on the internet. The negative side of the internet is that it's now easier for students to cheat. Teachers need to be aware of the possibility of plagiarism and take action to detect it.

What Makes a Successful Teacher?

Teachers use IT such as interactive smart-boards for classroom teaching to tudents.
Teachers use IT such as interactive smart-boards for classroom teaching to tudents. | Source
A Successful Teacher
+ is enthusiastic
+ has organised the session well
+ has a feeling for the subject
+ can conceptualise the topic
+ has empathy with the learners
+ understands how people learn
+ has skills in teaching and managing learning
+ is alert to context and "classroom" events
+ is teaching with their preferred teaching style
+ has a wide range of skills in their teaching repetoire including questioning, listening, reinforcing summarising and leadership
McCrorie P (2006) Teaching and Leading Small Groups. Association for the Study of Medical Education, Edinburgh.

The Internet is Changing the Role of Teachers

The mediocre teacher tells.

The good teacher explains.

The superior teacher demonstrates.

The great teacher inspires.

— William Arthur Ward (1921-1994)


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    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 2 years ago from Florida

      Great hub, Beth. As a former teacher, I can appreciate how much teaching has evolved over the years. And while the teaching methods that were used in my day worked for that time, these modern methods are perfect for encouraging objectivity and critical thinking in today's students. I think the teacher who knows how to use these methods effectively may have no problem keeping discipline in the classroom. Voted up and interesting.

    • Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

      Beth Eaglescliffe 2 years ago from UK

      My teaching experience is in the life-long learning sector. Adults come to their first class slightly worried as they remember how they were taught as kids. They are fearful of more of the same, but they soon relax as they see how much things have changed. They all love the new emphasis on critical thinking and investigative research.

      Thanks for the vote up, Quildon.

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