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    • #13526
      Beth Melia-Leigh

          Post your responses to the reflection tasks from Topic 4. Make sure you read and comment on your peers’ posts. Who adopts similar roles to you? Does anybody use any different roles that you think your classroom practice would benefit from?

          Task 1: A recent lesson

          Think about a lesson you have taught recently. What different teacher roles did you take on? What influenced your choice of role throughout the lesson? With hindsight, do you think you could have done anything differently?

          Task 2: Typical roles

          Do you usually adopt the same or similar roles during a lesson? Why/Why not? What affects your choice of teacher role in any one lesson?  

          Task 3: Varying your role 

          Taking into account what has been covered in the unit so far, do you think you could add more variety in terms of the different teacher roles you employ in your teaching? Why/Why not?

        • #58086
          Peter Wilson

              A recent lesson: Today I taught beginners ESOL. I was definitely a controller in terms of leading most of the activities and was at the front at the beginning to demonstrate the first task (spelling practice) and I was a giver or knowledge (or attempted to be) to help them with sound-letter correspondence. I drilled where necessary as well. At other stages of the lesson I was a monitor and evidence gatherer as they did some pair work spelling practise so I went round checking, supporting and giving feedback. If I noticed a mistake on their mini-WB I rubbed out the letter or told them they’d missed one out so was a bit of a prompter/editor. Later in the lesson they had to do a gap fill task from a reading so I had to be an organiser / task setter and model how to do it first. If I had to be critical of the roles I took on I’d say I could have given more feedback.

              Typical roles: I guess this pattern described here is common for me. I like switching between them every lesson and don’t like to teach from the front too much so I think of as many pair/group work activities as I can . I guess sometimes it depends on the level and how much they can produce so with lower levels I’d me more of a controller and task-setter than with higher.

              Varying your role: In terms of having more variety I think I could focus more on the organising feedback part of organiser / task-setter and think about what focus on in particular (task-achievement, content or language)


              • #58201
                Gajinder Kaur

                    Hello Peter!

                    I appreciate how you shift seamlessly between tutor-prompter/editor- organizer/task setter. Certainly, as teachers we have to adopt different roles, with there being no clear or timed transitions between them… we just have to think on our feet!

                    I also corroborate with “…with lower levels I’d be more of a controller and task-setter than with higher.” With lower age groups, definitely a little bit of command in a central figure is forthcoming and expected. With higher levels, we can be more fluid.


                • #58202
                  Gajinder Kaur

                      Task 1: A recent lesson

                      My last lesson was day before yesterday, I was substituting for an absent teacher and took on a mixed middle grade class. Although I had prepared for the lesson, I had not been briefed about learner aptitudes. It was pleasantly surprising to find them quite ahead of their age and level right at the outset.  So I took a step back as tutor consciously and simply facilitated as prompter-editor and provoker of critical reading.

                      My choices were influenced by learner potential and expression, and on hindsight, I do wish I had prepared for an above average / upper intermediate approach.

                      We were discussing an anecdote from Alexander The Great’s personal life, his search for wisdom and the wisemen he encountered… and all I could come up at that moment with was the expression “existential angst’!

                      In hindsight, I wish I could have given them more about the wisdom traditions of Greece and Rome, from Socrates – Plato- Aristotle… but time was short and the opportunity was missed.

                      I am not quite a proponent of MIE, for i personally feel it makes teacher roles redundant and will eventually lead to AI replacing human teachers, but here was a good chance to set up a SOLE with interdisciplinary connections, and it had been sadly lost!

                      Task 2: Typical roles

                      No, I can never tell, because every lesson is different, moods of learners are different, the interactions and inputs vary with each day. So I can never have a hard and fast rule. What I do try is to keep my TTT in control, and become more of a guiding resource/editor/prompter/provoker generally. For particularly challenging grammar points, I use a deductive approach. I try to keep the transmitter role low as far as possible.

                      Task 3: Varying your role

                      Yes, certainly reading all the texts mentioned in this module has opened up my eyes. I am now consciously aware of teacher role varieties, although I might have been playing the part unconsciously in class in some degree or measure.

                      I do want specifically to employ monitor and evidence gatherer roles more often, for I feel the opportunities in a time bound online class with multiple students are very limited. As also are using mime, gestures and expressions…

                    • #58205
                      Robert Dailey

                          Task 1: A recent lesson

                          Think about a lesson you have taught recently. What different teacher roles did you take on? What influenced your choice of role throughout the lesson? With hindsight, do you think you could have done anything differently?

                          ·       I recently re-taught the pronunciation of regular verbs in the past tense and used Underhill´s phonemic chart to do this. The group was a very small one, of only four students, and the level was B1/B2.

                          ·       As the students had already been introduced to the “rules” in a previous class, I asked one of the students to teach the others and she did this very well. I then gave the students a list of regular verbs – about 2 sides of A4 – and the students then chose verbs from the list and, working in pairs, they asked their partner to pronounce the word(s) in the past tense.

                          ·       I gave feedback throughout the class. For example, I used a pointer with the chart to deal with errors and responded to the many questions that emerged.

                          ·       The roles I played were various. The most important one was that of a facilitator. I also played the role of organizer/ task setter, and was monitoring and gathering evidence, and being used as a resource throughout the class.

                          ·       We can always do things differently and better, but in this case the decision to ask one student to teach the others had a really positive result. I felt that the interaction in the class was very collaborative, that it was really the students rather than I who controlled the class, and my perception is that we all enjoyed an experience that the students found very useful.

                          Task 2: Typical roles

                          Do you usually adopt the same or similar roles during a lesson? Why/Why not? What affects your choice of teacher role in any one lesson?  

                          ·       I really like using TBL activities like role plays and my preferred key role is definitely that of a facilitator. But the role I play depends on what I´m teaching and who I´m teaching. (With some one-to-one classes it is sometimes that of therapist!!) With an A2 class that I have my role is probably more of controller in the sense that I often find myself at the whiteboard explaining something like a piece of grammar. I revised passive structures recently with a C1 group and started with a “chalk and talk” sort of approach to set out the form, then later moved to more of a facilitator/ resource role as the students identified and discussed some passive constructions in some authentic written texts.

                          ·       Thinking about it, I also find myself in this role when the students use me as a resource and I (try to) answer their questions.

                          Task 3: Varying your role 

                          Taking into account what has been covered in the unit so far, do you think you could add more variety in terms of the different teacher roles you employ in your teaching? Why/Why not?

                          ·       Like Gajinder, I suppose I tend to teach grammar deductively and I would like to try out some ways of doing this where the role I play is more of a facilitator. I have taught conditionals using a GD exercise and perhaps this is one approach. I have a copy of Grammar Games by Rinvolucri and I´m going to have another look at it to see how I can use it.

                        • #58233

                              A recent lesson
                              As Peter, I have taught beginners ESOL. I started off as a controller taking the register as to signal the beginning of the lesson. Then I changed into an organiser as I asked lead-in questions to introduce the topic (places in town) and, after that, the pre-teaching lexis task, i.e. instructions and demo. While the students did the task I went around monitoring and supporting (as a kind of support I encourage peer working rather than supply a yes/no answer, is it part of the prompter/editor or the resource role?). During the feedback session I usually try to involve the students as much as I can so I just nominate a student at a time to give the answer and then ask the whole class to confirm / agree/ disagree/ why. So I kind of acted as a facilitator.
                              I introduced the listening task; gist first and then details so I replicated the pattern: organiser – observer (after the actual listening) – prompter and/or organiser during the whole class feedback.
                              I then helped the students notice the new grammatical item (there is/ are) and asked them to complete the rules on form and when to use some, any. The students worked in pairs, so I went round to monitor and support and to also play as resource and/or facilitator. During the whole class feedback I always tend to act as I mentioned above, nomination- S answers – Confirmation from the whole class – why (reinforcement of understanding).
                              After that, we moved to controlled practised. First the students had to work on form (complete the two sets of questions with there is/are). After the feedback, the students worked in pairs and asked the questions to each other in turn. While the students were performing the speaking activity I acted as an observer, the goal of the activity was to provide complete and correct short answers so since it was more about accuracy than fluency I sometimes had to guide some students on how to answer the questions (issues with subject- verb agreement).
                              We ended the lesson with a more freer speaking practice (find the differences). I introduced the task and suggested ways of using the target language to perform the task (ask questions and/ or describe the picture). I left the suggested/useful language on the IWB and then I went around the room monitoring and taking mental notes of common errors, that we discussed later.
                              I think the feedback stage needs to be carefully planned to ensure variety and make it student led.
                              Typical roles
                              Generally speaking I think that the choice of role is mainly influenced by the type of lesson (receptive skills, productive skills), the types of activities and the students (their reactions/ responses to the above mentions things and the number). For instance, I have 2 beginners classes but even when I repeat the same lesson I don’t always behave according to the previous lesson pattern (in terms of teacher roles).
                              With lower levels the pattern I mentioned above is pretty common for me. Perhaps, I don’t always have many opportunities for GD, as I tried to do in this lesson, and that may result in being a controller more often than not. Therefore I feel that I need to allocate more opportunities for STT during a lesson. The feedback stage, in this regard, offers various opportunities for balancing the lesson in terms of teacher-centred vs student-centred and variety (different tasks, different feedback).
                              Varying your role
                              I believe that being an observer is a very important part of being a teacher as it may help collect data for feedback and teaching improvements/ reflection.

                            • #58612
                              Manuel Flores Lasarte

                                  Many thanks for your contributions Peter, Gajinder, Robert and Erica.

                                  Your experience seems to corroborate what Harmer discusses in his chapter of teacher roles. According to him (and your experience!), the role we take is influenced by  ‘what we wish the students to achieve’ (i.e. the task) and ‘the particular students we are working with’ (Harmer, 2007, p.110-111). Let’s see these two points in more detail:

                                  a) ‘What we wish the students to achieve’ (Harmer, 2007, p.110):

                                  • When we want our learners to fully understand a particular task, we need to be in control: get everybody’s attention, highlight or demonstrate what they need to do with clear language and check understanding. The role of ‘controller’ seems the most suitable in this situation, as it is when taking register or making announcements, for example.
                                  • If the task we are setting up requires any kind of organisation, then we need to adopt the role of organiser, putting students into pairs or groups, managing the time and the groupings, etc.
                                  • If we want learners to be fully involved in their activities, we are there to offer help when needed (i.e. resource), to provide additional points to consider (i.e. prompter) and / or to gather information for feedback after the task (i.e. assessor). While learners are involved in activities, they are in control, we are just there to ‘facilitate’ more learning taking place.

                                  As Peter mentions, the role to adopt in feedback is sometimes more difficult to define so it makes sense to carefully plan it to ensure variety and maximum student involvement as Erica suggests.  I would say that here, the role we adapt is also in line with ‘what we want to achieve by doing this task’:

                                  • If we want to help build a positive learning atmosphere in which learners feel encouraged to share their ideas, we need to have some feedback on content in which adopting a role of ‘participant’ may be the most suitable: genuinely engaging in the conversation, involving others in class and showing that you are listening to and respecting their ideas.
                                  • However, if we are more concerned with accuracy, we may adopt the role of ‘prompter’ in an error correction task and perhaps provide the correct language if learners don’t know (adopting a role of resource). We may also need to adopt the role of ‘controller’ to provide feedback which clearly sets out the standard expected in a particular task.

                                  b) Another consideration when choosing our role is ‘the particular students we are working with’ (Harmer, 2007, p.110-111) and Gajinder explains this very well in her post: in a cover class, she met students who seemed very mature, so she decided to take the role of  a prompter or facilitator rather than controller as she felt her learners would be able to handle that type of teaching. Peter also mentions how he sometimes needs to take the role of ‘therapist’ in one-to-one lessons as an honest conversation with a teacher is what the student may benefit the most in that particular situation.

                                  Talking about how students influence our teacher roles, you all seem to agree that the language level of the learner is another parameter to consider: with beginners it seems that a role of ‘controller’ is more appropriate but with more advanced learners or when revising language already seen, it is felt that learners can take more ownership of their learning, which means that we can take a less controlling role and use more inductive approaches to learning, with the teacher acting as a prompter o facilitator.

                                  In addition to these two points, there may be other constraints such as the school we work in, learner expectations, the syllabus, time (as it is sometimes faster to have the role of controller) or even how our teacher role is influenced by our past learning experiences: i.e. apprenticeship of observation (see: Apprenticeship of Observation and

                                  To conclude, our roles definitely depend on a variety of factors but what’s important is that we are able to vary our roles, where possible, in order to build more varied and enjoyable lessons that better suit the learners and the activities we do in class.

                                  We hope you found this unit interesting by making you question your own actions in the classroom in an effort to improve your students’ learning processes. In some ways, the questions (especially the second) link to demand higher – that is, changing our role to push our learners to give more.

                                  Please feel free to continue contributing to this forum.

                                  Best wishes,


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