I think that the primary role of the teacher is to facilitate student learning. However, I don’t think we can condense all that it means to be a teacher into a single sentence. The tasks, obligations, and duties of the teacher beget many different roles.
To expound on my opinions I will list a few roles in no order of importance, beginning with that of the creator. Teachers create learning environments and lesson plans. Sure, sometimes we borrow lessons from other teachers, but it has been my experience that most need tweaking to fit the task at hand. Of course, the original was created by someone, very likely a teacher. I also think that students respond more positively in an environment where they comfortable and unthreatened.
Then, lessons must be presented. Enter the organizer.
Next, a teacher is a motivator. For some reason, most students don’t come to class bursting with eagerness to learn the lesson du jour. They sometimes need a little help. Being a motivator also invokes the role of nurturer. If the teacher knows her students well, she is often able to recognize whether the student is having a bad or good day and can accordingly adjust motivational strategies.
Being a good nurturer is important to the health and well being of the entire class. Students are human beings with feelings and deserve to be treated with respect. In turn, students treat each other and the teacher with respect. There are exceptions to this design, but I have found it to be a good practice in my classroom.
Other roles could fall under the broad category of nurturer, such as listener, caregiver, and friend.
Another category that could include other roles as subheadings is that of critic. A critic in the sense of the person who analyzes a student’s work, asks higher order questions, and challenges a student to think as deeply as possible.
In this blog, I have highlighted only a few of roles that teachers fill daily with the students. Other roles include relationships with colleagues and administrators. But, that is a blog for another day.