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Role and Responsibilities of a teacher Essay

Analyse the role and Responsibilities of the teacher and the boundaries of that role. Gold and Barentsen (2014), illustrate that teaching, unlike many other professions, encompasses much more than the role suggests. They argue that when considering a role in the sense of ‘the activities’ associated by that given job or profession, a teacher’s is much more diverse. To suggest then that the role of a teacher is, quite simply, to teach, in the same way, for example, that a dancer’s role is to dance, would fail to fully explain the multi-faceted aspect of the profession, particularly considering that ‘teaching involves far more at its core than the name of the occupation initially suggests’ (Gold and Barentsen: 2014:pg3). A teacher in the Lifelong Learning Sector, that is, in post compulsory education, is tasked with striking a perfect balance between teaching-related responsibilities and administrative ones as well as providing pastoral support to learners and meeting institutional requirements.

This essay will analyse the role and responsibilities of a teacher with a focused look at the lifelong learning sector and will examine the challenge of boundaries, particularly within a role where the responsibilities are ever expanding. When considering the role of a teacher in the Lifelong Learning Sector, it is clear to see the complexity of a teacher’s role here. Wilson (2008), argues that the sector is ‘broad’ and as such, teachers are expected more than ever to ‘offer value for money’ by considering the requirements of the awarding bodies as well as ensuring that learners achieve in a manner in which they are happy with, bearing in mind at the same time, the needs of their parents and employers who may all have a vested interest in the learner’s experience. (Wilson, 2008, pg4).

Wilson further illustrates that learning in the Lifelong Learning Sector often comprises of various motivations for learners, meaning that, while it may form part of the reason, not all learners enrol on courses to simply achieve a qualification. For example, the learning goals for a 14 year old wishing to gain vocational qualifications differ greatly from those of a mature student returning to education following a long career. When embarking on teaching therefore, a teacher must consider the variety of individuals in their classroom, from their previous experiences to their learning styles. Walkin (2002) argues that adult learners are much more likely to be independent and therefore less reliant on a teacher’s guidance in comparison to young people. Walkin also states that adults will expect to be treated differently and their life experiences recognised by their teachers to afford them respect, whereas young people will probably be less disappointed if their teacher fails to take their previous experience into consideration.

Despite their differing needs however, Walkin states that both adults and young people will respond better to methods that encourage active involvement and learning. Petty (1998) positively advocates ‘active learning’ as the best method for teaching. He strongly argues that people in general ‘learn best by doing’ (pg6). Petty also argues for teachers to encourage their students to engage and participate with their subject, quoting an ancient Chinese proverb: “I am told, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand”. Wilson also agrees with Petty on the importance of understanding how learners learn. She argues the point that a ‘good teacher’ must be able to show differentiation by considering the different needs of their learners. Wilson agrees that ultimately, a teacher’s responsibility is to ensure that, through sight, hearing and doing, learners engage with their subject, therefore facilitating the learning process.

Both Petty and Wilson (1998; 2002) agree that the teacher must structure their teaching by following the teaching and learning cycle. By identifying the needs of the learner, a teacher is then able to design effective lessons with individual learner needs in mind and is able to implement learning in a variety of ways that meet those differing needs. One of the ways to identify learning needs is through the use of initial assessments. In my role as an employability tutor, initial assessments are a vital part of identifying the levels that my learners are operating, therefore allowing me to be aware almost instantaneously, which learners will require further support. Once I have identified further support, I am then able to incorporate this through differentiation. By regularly assessing learning, I am able to evaluate my methods of delivery and initiate change where necessary. When teaching a group of learners, it is important for teachers not only to recognise difference but also to celebrate equality by allowing learners to participate fairly and freely.

This will often involve ensuring that learners are clear on what is expected of them not only through the setting of learning objectives but also through ensuring that the learning environment is safe for all learners to participate in a non-threatening manner. Francis and Gould (2013) emphasise the importance of setting ground rules in the creation of a safe learning environment. Their model to setting ground rules looks at both teacher led methods where the teacher sets the rules and dictates these to the leaners as well as those set in mutual agreement between the teacher and the learner (pg.19). In my personal experience, the best method has been when learners have participated in the setting of rules as they have tended to adhere to them more than when rules have been imposed upon them. While Gould and Berentsen agree that ground rules can be vital in creating a positive learning environment, they suggest that the setting of these should not be solely entrusted to learners.

Ultimately it is the responsibility of the teacher to ensure that any ground rules set emphasise and adhere to those of the institution and address and respond to the issue of health and safety for the learners as per legislations, which teachers are to comply with. Gould and Barentsen (2014) argue that ultimately the most important aspect of teaching is ensuring that teachers ‘do a proper job’, including subscribing and adhering to several legislations as well as a professional code of conduct. Legislation will all range in nature and teachers will need to be aware of the various acts designed to ensure that they do indeed do a ‘proper job’. It is the responsibility of a teacher to ensure that they are up to date with changing legislation and addressing any areas of training in their CPD. Teachers are tasked with the responsibility of ensuring they are aware of legislation relating to health and safety as well as that designed to safeguard vulnerable groups.

Through the knowledge of the appropriate legislation, teachers will be able to increase awareness of their responsibilities and highlight their boundaries. The safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act (2006) will cover issues of signposting and highlight to the teachers where their responsibilities to the learner end and another body takes over. Gould and Berentsen argue that in order for teaching to effectively take place, teachers must keep a degree of ‘professional distance’. This will allow the teacher to ‘maintain objectivity’, therefore allowing the teacher to treat the learner fairly and without prejudice or favouritism. Gould and Barentsen divide boundaries in two sets, with the first looking at professional conduct, while the second part is concerned with what they term ‘the limit of expertise’.

This then looks at times where, with the best intentions, teachers may wish to be helpful to their learners but are quite frankly, limited in the field that learners may require said assistance. For example, in the case where a student is experiencing family problems or is displaying some degree of mental health. This might extend beyond the teacher’s capability and therefore in the interest of the learner, the teacher must signpost them to the correct agencies for support. Gould and Barentsen then suggest that teachers are to be aware of ‘internal and external’ agencies in order to properly assist their learners by ‘referring them on’.


Overall, the list of responsibilities for teachers is long and ever-expanding. The amount of legislation that affects the job is also constantly evolving, making the task to teach more complex than ever. However, when done effectively, teaching can be a long and rewarding career, as it allows the teacher the ability to genuinely make a difference and have a real impact on learners. For the 21st century teacher, it is vitally important to be aware of the requirements of teaching and the boundaries thereof as well as the ever changing nature of the profession.

The need, therefore for teachers to invest in their own learning and professional development has never been greater, particularly in the Lifelong Learning Sector, where significant changes have taken place both in the requirements in qualification for prospective teachers as well as key changes in the standardisation of learning. Ultimately, teachers must always keep in mind their responsibility to their learners and the motivation that keeps them engaged in learning. It is my belief that through this understanding, teachers will be able to steer their learners towards achieving their qualifications while enjoying the journey at the same time.


For this evaluation, I will be using Gibb’s reflective cycle to analyse my teaching and to evaluate any areas of improvement. I chose to deliver my micro-teach on the subject of Interview Preparation mainly as a result of it being a subject I understand well and teach regularly with my learners. Interviews and interview preparation, are a universal issue for many and I felt that given that my current learners’ level was significantly above the ones that I teach on a daily basis, interviews would be a good, common ground through which I could utilise similar leaning outcomes. Due to time constraints, I chose to deliver my session suing mainly Petty (1998) theory of active learning. I felt that the best way to deliver the session in such a short period of time would be to utilise my learners’ prior knowledge and ensure that I had activities designed to encourage participation.

Therefore I chose 3 different types of activities to encourage group work of different sizes, thus highlighting any area, if any for differentiation. The delivery itself was designed to encourage learner participation and consisted mainly of leaners sharing their experiences of interviews while engaging with the activities. I chose to use a quiz at the end for evaluation as a means of embedding literacy and ICT. Overall, I felt the session went according to plan, however, given more time, I would have liked to have included less words on my PowerPoint and perhaps incorporated role play as a way of giving learners a different taster on the interview experience.

Coffield, F., Moseley, D., Hall, E., & Ecclestone, C. (2004). Learning Styles for Post D16 Learners: What do We know? London: Learning and Skills Research Centre. Francis, M., & Gould, J. (2013). Achieving your PTTLS Award: A Praxtical Guide to Teching in the Lifelong Learning Sector. London: Sage. Gould, J., & Roffey-Barentsen, J. (2014). Achieving your Diploma in Education and Training. London: Sage. Petty, G. (1998). Teaching Today. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes. Walkin, L. (2002). Teaching and Learning in Further and Adult Education. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes Ltd. wilson, L. (n.d.). Pratical Teaching: A Guide to PTLLS & CTLLS.Cengage Learning EMEA. London: .

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