Why is the teaching profession different today?
Previously, the school structure considered learners to be consumers of facts. In this learning model, teachers dispensed information and maintained discipline. They were paid to keep children within the same age bracket attentive and receptive to the standard curriculum, which included lessons and tests.
This model didn’t allow teachers to have any say in what they taught or how they taught it. All learners had to be instructed the same way, and failure to learn wasn’t the teacher’s responsibility. Schools strictly enforced adherence to the established teaching methods, and regulators prohibited deviation from standard practices.
This model also portrayed students as blank canvases and teachers only evaluated progress according to the expectations of the standardized curriculum. Creative thinking was discouraged and all students were forced to learn in the same way.
Today, school administrators have begun to embrace the unique learning abilities of all students in their care. Administrators now appreciate that children are meant to be active knowledge creators and not just passive consumers. Schools should be conduits for lifelong education, improving learners’ abilities to create and absorb lessons from the world.
These changes in the education model have been catalyzed by the massive strides in information technology and knowledge access, primarily through the Internet. As a result, parents and society now demand more wholesome learning models, forcing schools across the country to restructure teaching methods.
At the forefront are thousands of existing teachers who’ve changed tack in every aspect of their professions. New techniques and tools, as well as changing responsibilities and expectations, have accelerated the pace of reforms in the profession. As a result, teachers have had to reinvent themselves, and you, as an employer, should look for more than teaching acumen from new teachers.
What is the role of a teacher?
The major role of a teacher is to support learners in their quest for new knowledge on a specified set of subjects. This applies to students of all ages, from preschool to post-graduate learners.
But teachers shouldn’t limit themselves to just being classroom instructors in the school setting, just as learners aren’t just blank minds waiting for instruction. Instead, a teacher’s responsibility is to contribute to shaping the lives of their students and bringing the school curriculum to life. The right teachers can profoundly affect their students’ lives and vocation choices as they grow up.
The primary roles of a teacher are:
1. Providing mentorship
There’s a direct connection between a caring and knowledgeable teacher and a secure and motivated learner. Students need to know that teachers care about how they learn and the things that help or hinder the learning process.
Teachers must strive to learn the defining characteristics of every student, including their social, economic and cultural background, specific learning styles, needs, abilities, aptitudes and interests.
It’s now the teacher’s job to nurture and counsel learners and help them make sense of their intellectual, emotional and social needs. Creating a grounded and emotionally mature learner supports academic achievements, allowing them to make better decisions and collect and assimilate knowledge.
2. Inspiring learners
Teachers should be prepared to intervene at any point to help students learn. Instead of thinking of teachers as educators of specific subjects, such as science, language or math, you want them to be creative and nurture a love of learning in their students.
To achieve this goal, teachers should be able to leverage different methods of instruction that support students’ learning styles and aptitudes. For example, they should encourage learners to take an active role in their education. You can find educators who embrace nontraditional ways of teaching by asking the right questions during an interview and paying attention to the answers.
3. Nurturing healthy curiosity in learners
The best teachers have mastered the art of nurturing healthy curiosity in their students. You should look for candidates who create participatory lesson plans that encompass a wide range of activities to support different learning styles. The teacher should consider themselves as a facilitator, guide and co-learner in the education process.
It’s the teacher’s responsibility to encourage students to take charge of their learning journey. This happens when they engage, rather than suppress, students’ natural curiosity. Look for candidates who can draw parallels between learning goals and lifetime value and design assessments that measure real accomplishments, rather than the ability to memorize subject matter.
4. Creating meaningful learning experiences
Students will be more cooperative if they have some say in the form and content of their curriculum. Teachers can guide students to create learning plans to achieve their goals. They can also help students decide how to demonstrate what they’ve learned.
Consider avoiding hiring teachers who think of themselves as say-all and be-all instructors. You need teaching staff who can design engaging learning opportunities through various media. It’s the teacher’s job to curate and build meaningful experiences that allow students to solve everyday challenges in the real world.
These experiences lend significance to the theoretical ideas learned in class. They also offer opportunities to nurture skills and mental and physical habits to help students achieve the stipulated educational goals.
As a result, students no longer need to memorize abstract information from outdated textbooks. Now, they can apply the knowledge they’ve gained to real-world challenges and actively participate in spreading that knowledge to other learners.
5. Leveraging technology to support learning
New technology has changed every aspect of life, and education needs to reflect this to prepare students for the world outside school. The old method of teaching was necessary because information was scarce. Teachers immersed themselves in the material to instruct a large group simultaneously.
Now, there’s a surplus of information from many sources. Modern teaching goals should be about helping students parse information, think critically, solve problems, query information sources and make educated decisions.
As a result of these changes, teachers can spend more time working in small groups or one-on-one with students to achieve these goals. Training can also help teachers understand how to use technology and devices to teach children.
6. Mediating and liaising
Teachers often have to liaise and mediate among the various stakeholders in the education landscape. For example, students may ask teachers to help them relay critical information to their parents or vice versa.
Similarly, teachers can offer valuable insights when school boards and parents don’t agree on school policies or strategic decisions. Working directly with both the administrators and parents, they’re well-placed to act as mediators and represent learners’ best interests. In class, teachers can step in to resolve conflicts between students or act in cases where school regulations have been violated.
It’s important to ask about each candidate’s position on critical school policies before hiring them. Asking about how they would handle various situations gives you some insight into their ability to mediate and liaise on the job.
7. Researching learning strategies
Teachers must take time to keep informed about changes that affect learning or education. The world is changing at a fast pace, and no teacher should be complacent about what they know, even in the subjects of their specialization. The overwhelming amount of information on all subjects escalates the pace of research and discovery.
Teachers shouldn’t be caught off-guard, teaching outdated principles that the world has moved on from. Research can help teachers appreciate the different learning dynamics in the modern school environment. Armed with these insights, they can spend time mentoring new teachers to prepare them for the complexity of today’s learning environment.
The 21st-century teacher
Although many schools still run the conventional classroom setup, understanding technology and psychology has become necessary in the teaching profession. Academic instruction is just the beginning of 21st-century teachers’ responsibilities.
As the role of a teacher evolves, school structure is also changing rapidly. Differentiating the roles of a teacher is an effective strategy to bring greater functionality to this profession.
As an employer, it’s important to create a varied pool of teachers with differentiated job descriptions and to stagger levels of responsibility according to their qualifications and experience. The future lies with school administrators and policymakers who understand the significance of a professional and differentiated pool of teachers in schools.