The role of a teacher

Please reflect idealistically, in exactly 100 words, on the important role of a schoolteacher in 21st century Australia. 

I recently asked pre-service teachers to reflect about the role of a schoolteacher in Australia. I wondered what they’d say. Here are just a few responses and excerpts from the next generation of teachers:

…By supporting students in their pursuit of knowledge, teachers play an integral role in shaping the future. A successful teacher will do this in partnership and collaboration with engaged and willing students.     EMILY 

This week the media carried images of violent protest in Sydney, and while commentary on the event has reopened the barely-healed wounds of race and prejudice, my thoughts turned towards education. After all, most of the images featured young men. I wondered what kind of education those young men had been exposed. Had they been educated in an environment that encouraged them to develop and know their own voices? Had their education showed them the possibility of a world where they could raise these voices in critical engagement with issues they were passionate about, rather than lashing out in mad violence? Perhaps it is an idealistic hope, but I believe this is the kind of education an effective schoolteacher can deliver.      MEG

…the first role of an effective teacher will be as an enthusiastic and dedicated learner. The teacher must then create effective ways to transmit new and established ideas both to transform the lives of students and build skills and resilience. Teachers’ qualities will include openness, imagination, innovation, and creativity as well as the ability to inculcate a lifelong love of learning.     LYNDALL

Students are the most impressionable during high school. They need guidance in order to mentor them, in preparation for the world beyond school. A teacher should become a role model, emanating good attitudes and positive behaviour, poise, and a broad and ever-expanding knowledge of the world. I say this because the people that I have learnt the most from have been the people who I admire and aspire to be like. This is the type of teacher I want to be; not just teaching subject content in creative and interesting ways, but inspiring students to become successful members of society.     GABRIELLE

The role of a school teacher is as important in the now as it has always been. Teachers are stalwarts in a comprehensive and progressive society. Teachers bear the vital responsibility of teaching and apart from parents are the main source of knowledge and values for children. The strengths and characters of a society represent the accumulation of those from its participating members; thus teachers are fundamental in educating and fuelling young minds to develop an acute and critical awareness of how and why the world is the way it is and how students have the capacity to change it.    CAITLIN

…Teachers must ensure the use of appropriate pedagogies, adopting an approach that is thoughtful, intelligent and engaging for optimal student learning and success. Teachers must support notions of inclusivity, recognising and supporting students as individuals with differing personalities, abilities and talents….We are role models, carers and facilitators…    STEPH

The school teacher has the power to shape the values and qualities of the next generation of 21st century citizens. One way the 21st century teacher can do this is by facilitating discussions on academic, social and political issues. By doing this not only are the students becoming educated on important topics but they are becoming informed, competent communicators. To encourage this learning it is essential that the teacher models the desired behaviour. To be a lifelong learner and teach the students as such, is a characteristic these students will imitate and take with them out into the wider community.     MELODY

The role of teachers in Australian schools is more important than ever simply because there is so much more to learn. In this exciting, changing world we need to make sure that we not only learn from our past, but also look to the future. Teachers need to be more creative, knowledgeable and adaptable than ever before so that the next generation of students can reach their full potential. Whilst this immense responsibility would weigh on most people, it is the challenge that teachers revel in every day and if they are lucky, they are able to make the difference.    MEL

What would you say?





cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by CoffeeGeek



  1. Unkle Cyril:

    Teachers are communicators, disciplinarians, conveyors of information, evaluators, classroom managers, counselors, members of many teams and groups, decision-makers, role-models, and surrogate parents. Each of these roles requires practice and skills that are often not taught in teacher preparation programs.
    Not all who want to be teachers should invest the time and resources in teacher training or teacher preparation programs if they do not have the appropriate temperament, skills, and personality. Around forty percent of new teachers leave teaching within the first five years. It is hard work.
    As a teacher, your day does not end when the school bell rings. If you are conscientious, you will be involved in after school meetings, committees, assisting students, grading homework, assignments, projects, excursions, sports carnivals, and calling parents. All these demand some sacrifice of your personal time and sometimes money. If you are committed to excellence as a teacher, it’s a sacrifice you can live with. If not, you will be not be happy.

  2. Mrs Whitfield:

    A teacher’s role in the 21st Century is primarily to foster a love of learning; to show and share joy in the process and not just the product. We are mentors, facilitators, teachers and learners. We aim for personal growth and achievement irrespective of gender, race socioeconomic background or NAPLAN score. We show that risk taking isn’t necessarily dangerous once you have assessed the risk. We encourage, support and guide. We teach students not what to know, but how to learn, think critically, problem solve and most importantly – empathise. In short, we open the windows and let the world in.

  3. David Fleming:

    Here’s a thought, why aren’t there any males in your responses?No available males to be questioned? Is this the face of teaching in the 21st century?
    I feel for each and every male student coming through our systems.

    • Darcy Moore:

      I chose the most interesting of the responses (and only wanted a handful). There are very few males in my class. This is not, as you know, a new phenomenon in teaching.

  4. David fleming:

    Interesting that no male comment was up to scratch. Or weren’t they engaged? Are our pre teaching courses designed to favour females?

    • Darcy Moore:


      I didn’t think about the gender of the student when selecting. I have often been the only male in an English staffroom, or one of few, so I understand the issue. There are many reasons why there is a gender imbalance and yes, it would be good to look at the underlying causes.

      Why don’t you write 100 words and post it here to redress the balance?

      Darcy 🙂

  5. The role of a teacher is to build relationship with each student. By this I dont mean being a door-mat, but exercising patience and taking time to get to know them. From experience, I believe that teachers and students help one another become better persons, both individually and socially. This process cannot be forced but ‘grown’ through the exercise of equal power. The nearest equivalent to this is the relationship between parent and child: parents are truly the primary educators. Kids remember who rather than what was taught and the best learning is ‘exemplary’.

    • Darcy Moore:

      As requested, Michael:

      A teacher needs to model resilience, optimism and a willingness to keep on learning. They must help students become critically literate, independent, and socially conscious in a world where the population exceeds seven billion. Learning how to learn has always been a useful skill but the pace of change now makes it essential. Technology is no longer an optional extra for a schoolteacher and must be integrated intelligently into lessons. Maintaining and extending our democracy, by assisting each individual taught to strive to become an active, informed citizen in our civil society, is an important job for all skilful educators.

      • Lorraine:

        There is also an implicit need to model optimism and enjoyment of life and learning. If not – why bother growing up to be miserable like you?!

        • Darcy Moore:

          Hi Lorraine,

          There may be some irony in your comment 😉

          • Lorraine:

            Irony or lack of clarity! I agree with and endorse the previous comments. I hoped to emphasise the need for modelling the joy we experience in learning and life. Some students could look at tired, stressed teachers and not see much joy. Teachers look at some adolescents and don’t see much hope, energy or joy. Critical to model an optimistic view and support students to develop their own resilience. Hope that’s clearer.

  6. David Fleming:

    The teacher’s role is to achieve the engagement of our students in meaningful, practical, creative and challenging experiences to become members of society who have a love of learning for its own sake, are resilient and capable of facing the increasing complexity of the 21st century.
    We develop the overall health of students, mentally, socially and physically (emotionally and spiritually). We challenge our students and provide meaningful feedback that is honest.
    We must be exceptional communicators with both parents and students and act as role models for our students in their everyday lives. Superman/ Superwoman/Super teacher are you out there?

Post a Comment

* (will not be published)

Random Posts