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The roles of the teacher

Module Three | Classroom management

What do ‘teacher roles’ mean?


Have a look at questions 1-5. Match the descriptions of the teacher’s roles with the roles listed A-F in the box. There is an extra option. You do not need to use that.


A.       A manager

B.       A monitor

C.       An informer

D.       A diagnostician

E.        An involver

F.        A planner


Descriptions of the teacher’s roles

  1. He is ___________ when he encourages all the students to participate in the activities.
  2. She is ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­_______________ when she goes around the class and aids the students when they are working on their activities.
  3. He is ____________ when he presents new language to his students.
  4. Before the lesson, he is _____________ when he thinks about and prepares what he will teach.
  5. She is ________________ when she organises pair-work activities or group work.

A teacher has the job of managing the activities and the students in the classroom in different ways while a lesson is in progress. Therefore, he/she must act in various ways at different stages of the lesson. These different kinds of behaviour are known as ‘teacher roles’.

What are the roles a teacher uses?

The roles of the teacher 2

All teachers change roles during a lesson. The roles will suit the lesson type, activities, lesson aims and the level and age of the students. A teacher may act as a planner, an informer, a manager, a parent or friend or a monitor at different moments. When students do a role-play, one role that the teacher has is to ensure that the students are doing what the teacher wants them to do. This is what we call monitoring. When new language is presented to the class, the role of the teacher is to inform and explain to the students. In the table below, you will find some roles teachers usually use.


The teacher

1.       Planner

Prepares and thinks through the lesson in detail before teaching it so that it has variety and there are appropriate activities for the different learners in the class.

2.       Informer

Gives the students detailed information about the language or about an activity.

3.       Manager

Organises the learning space, makes sure everything in the classroom is running smoothly and sets up rules and routines (i.e. things which are done regularly) for behaviour.

4.       Monitor

Goes around the class during individual, pair and group work activities, checking learning

5.       Involver

Makes sure all the students are taking part in the activities.

6.       Parent/Friend

Comforts students when they are upset or unhappy

7.       Diagnostician

Is able to recognise the cause of students’ difficulties.

8.       Resource

Can be used by the students for help and advice.

A teacher's roles during a lesson

The roles of the teacher 3

Teachers usually use certain roles at certain stages of a lesson. For example, teachers are planners before the lesson and then monitors during a group work/pair work activities. At times, they take on multiple roles at once. There are different names for different teacher roles. The ones in the table are very common names.

  • The teacher roles must be chosen to suit the age and the level of the students, the stage of the lesson and the overall purpose of the activity. Roles need to be thought about when the teacher is planning lessons. A teacher must always be ready to use various roles during lessons.
  • When we choose the correct teacher roles, the lesson will be more smoothly running and therefore learning and teaching will be made more effective.
  • There are some roles which are more appropriate for classes of young students than for adult classes.
  • Roles alter at different stages of teaching.

Before the lesson

  • The teacher is the planner of materials to ensure that the lesson is appropriate for the students and the learning purpose.
  • The teacher is also a diagnostician of her/his students’ problems.

During the lesson

  • When new language or new vocabulary is being presented to the students, the teacher takes on the role of an informer.
  • When setting up activities, the teacher takes on the role of manager.
  • While students are doing activities, the teacher becomes the monitor, diagnostician, manager and a resource.
  • Where there are disciplinary issues, the teacher becomes the manager and in some cases a parent or a friend.

After the lesson

  • When taking into consideration how successful the lesson was, what the students understood and were able to do and what they had issues with, the teacher is the diagnostician and planner. Teachers look at their scheme of work to check whether or not the next lesson is properly and suitably planned.

Test Your Knowledge

Listed 1-5 are some examples of teacher language at various stages of a lesson. In your opinion, what is the teacher’s role in each one?

  1. Teacher says to the whole class: ‘I believe I know why you are having issues’.
  2. Teacher to the entire class: ‘Okay, everybody stand up and turn to face your partner’.
  3. Teacher says to a pair of students doing pairwork: ‘How are you both doing? Is everything alright?’
  4. Teacher says to the entire class: ‘We add ‘er’ to make the comparative form of adjectives that are of one syllable’.
  5. Teacher says to a young student: ‘Does your arm hurt? Here, let me see.’

Read the teachers’ comments below and decide which of them you would agree with and why.

  1. I want my class to be methodical and I want to be in control of it. I think my main roles are to be the informer and the manager. That is what my students want.
  2. Since I teach young kids, I am most of the time a parent than a teacher. However, I believe that the most important teacher roles are organising and planning, especially with kids.
  3. I think my role is to encourage the students to learn for themselves. Therefore, I involve everyone and try not to be controlling and control the students and the activities much.

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