What is the Teacher’s Role?

Hello Exam Seekers,

Today I’m going to talk about our role as a teacher. This was an input session I had when taking the ICELT Course. Since the ICELT was discontinued in 2018, I’m going to share what I’ve learned from this course and the content I gathered.

One of the topics in the ICELT course is the Teacher’s Role. It is important for us, teachers, to understand where we stand in classes and how relevant we are in the school/classroom ecosystem. For that, let’s think about a couple of things:

  1. Think of a teacher you had – any subject.
  2. What do you remember about them and their lessons?
  3. What about their manner?
  4. How did you feel in their presence?
  5. Can you recall any specific lesson? Any specific teaching technique?
  6. What was it like being a student in that class?
  7. What words or phrases characterize the atmosphere of the class?
Teacher / Professor
Teacher / Professor

It is funny when you spare some minutes to answer these questions. Which teacher did you think about? Was it a teacher who gave you positive memories or negative ones? – Share in the comments!

If you want to leave your students with positive memories and good feelings, there are three characteristics you need to know and adopt:

3 core teachers characteristics

  • Respect: Positive and non-judgmental regard for another person.
  • Empathy: Being able to see things from the other person’s perspectives – as if looking through their eyes.
  • Authenticity: Being oneself without hiding behind titles, roles, or masks.

I believe it is quite clear why these three characteristics are essential for a teacher, but if I had to ask which is the most important, which would you say it is?

Even though respect is of the utmost importance, we do need to respect each and every individual. However, for a teacher, the basis of all rapport is AUTHENTICITY!

According to Carl Roger (US educational psychologist), the foundation of rapport is to learn yourself enough that you know what style you have and when you are being truthful to yourself.

It’s funny because recently I have taken a test called RPA – Rational Profile Analysis, which reveals the variables of individual differences such as attitudes, perceptions, motivations, and personality from each individual and these were the results:

RPA – Rational Profile Analysis
RPA – Rational Profile Analysis


  • Socially oriented;
  • Informal;
  • Easy to develop relationsip with people;
  • Reactive;
  • Risk averse;
  • Casual to the rules.

This means that even if I want to be a more formal person and deal with my students in a formal manner, it would be hard for me to do so. Not that it would be impossible, I would be able to do it, but, it would be a challenge and I wouldn’t be authentic.

Five steps to AUTHENTICITY:

  • Have real conversations: when you chat informally with your students, really listen and respond appropriately.
  • Don’t try to be a “teacher”: “sit with” rather than “in front of”, “talk with” rather than “at”. Just be closer to your students, don’t try to be somenting.
  • Don’t pretend omniscience: if you don’t know an answer, tell them you will find it and bring it later.
  • Be wary of staffroom advice: “being friendly and genuinely warn with students is dangerous” – so not true!
  • Be appropriately authoritative: you are the authority, but that doesn’t mean being superior or bossy.

These are great steps for you to try and figure out yourself. Other important questions are:

  • How much are you being your real self in class?
  • Are you worried students won’t respect you if you let down your guard?
  • If they see yourself as you are, rather than the teacher, the knower or the figure of authority?
  • How much does the cultural context you work in allow you to be who you want to be?
Quetioning oneself

I believe I have a good relationship with my students. I don’t know if it is due to the years I’ve been teaching and now I don’t really care about showing off how much I know. I know that when you start working for somebody, you try as much as you can to show off your knowledge so that people feel at ease and know that they are in good hands – or your perception of them, right?

Well, now, I simply try to make my students understand what I want them to grasp and I don’t bother about my posture in class. I don’t try to “be” a teacher, or to impose my presence… I just try to be my natural self.

Teachers and their relationship with students

  • Rapport
    • Is rapport 100% natural?
    • Can it be improved?

Even though I try to be as natural as I can, I know that we are not friends, and this has to be in each teacher’s mind. You need to know that even though you are informal/formal, you are still your students’ teacher, and you still have to build a bridge to reach them.

So every interaction is somehow thought out, and there is a purpose.

  • Techniques to build rapport:
    • Be welcoming, be encouraging, be approachable;
    • Treat each learner as an individual;
    • Remember positive things about your students;
    • Empathies;
    • Be YOU rather than “the teacher”;
    • Don’t fake happiness and pleasure;
    • Be culturally sensitive;
    • Avoid sarcasm.

It’s about accepting the other person’s behavior and meets them in their model of the world. It is about reducing the differences between yourself and others at an unconscious level.

Matching and Mirroring

Pacing and Leading

How would you characterize the quality of rapport in your own lessons? What factors seem to improve or worsen it?

OBS: more for one-to-one interaction.

Is it OK to be friends with students?

This is a relevant question that every now and then we ask ourselves. We have to remember that our students are not only students but, as we teachers are not only teachers, they too have a life besides being in the classroom. According to Jim Scrivener (2012). Classroom Management Techniques (link in Brazil here):

There are also other factors that contribute to building rapport and connecting to your students, which are:

  • Classroom management: where we stand, sit, where the students sit;
  • Voice: volume, tone, etc.
  • Classroom environment: physical factors; decorations x learner’s work;
  • Listening: conversational x analytical (focus on language) x supportive (focus on the person and message);
  • Quality of your class control;
  • Gestures and facial expressions;
  • Eye contact;
  • Teacher’s language.

Now, let’s go back to the beginning of this text. Think of some people you have been taught by in the past. Can you perceive in them any of these characteristics mentioned?

I hope that this text helps you to understand your role as a teacher and to be a better teacher yourself!


That’s it for today! Please like the post and follow the blog on:

You can also listen to this post at Anchor!!!

Have a great week,
Patricia Moura


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