It is the intention of the writer to identify and assess the ‘Roles, Responsibilities and Relationships’ of teachers in the Lifelong Learning Sector. These are vast and far reaching which often makes it difficult to define a role or responsibility. Francis and Gould (2011, p. 5) describes roles and responsibilities as ‘expected behaviour associated with a position’, whilst Gravells (2006, p. 9) states that ‘there are many roles, responsibilities and functions’ which may include ‘following professional values and ethics. Gravells (2012, p. 10) suggests that teaching and learning should be based on a cycle and teachers should follow the cycle to be effective. She calls this the ‘teaching and learning cycle’ and it is the writers aim to illustrate how this impacts on the roles and responsibilities of teachers. The writer will also explore how these influence students learning experience, progress and achievements. Gravels (2012, p. 10) ‘teaching and learning cycle’ consists of five components, and can be followed from any stage.
However, for teaching and learning to be purposeful for all students identifying the needs of students and organisations should be the beginning of the cycle. Maslow (1987)(see appendix diagram1) believed, that students had ‘five needs which represent different levels of motivation which must be met. ’ These included ‘Physiological’ and ‘safety/security’ needs. It could be argued that the needs of all learners must to be taken into account when creating an effective learning environment.
This includes getting to know the individual learner, their learning preferences, any barriers to learning they may have or identifying any individual learning needs. This is in accordance with Ingleby, Joyce and Powell (2010, p. 7) who state that it is important for teachers to find out about and identify any specific barriers to learning and identify any special needs. This can be done by initial assessments to determine students individual needs, starting points or learning objectives. This is in agreement with Gravells (2012, p. 8) who states that ‘ascertaining individual needs, learning styles and goals’ of all students ‘promotes inclusive learning. ’ This forms the basis to enable teachers to appropriately support all students to reach their learning goals. This is also in accordance with Ofsted (2012, p. 6) who states that staff should ‘initially assess learners’ starting points’ to enable them to ‘meet each learner’s needs’. Identifying all learners starting points and learning preferences at the beginning of a course enables lectures to differentiate their lessons to ensure they meet all learners needs.
It also enables them to monitor students’ progress and their own performance. The writer demonstrated their understanding of their own role in identifying individual learning needs during a micro teach session. Blue hand-outs were given to students with dyslexia, as they found it easier to read on blue paper, ensuring all students were fully included. According to Petty (2001, pp. 123-125) all ‘students learn in different ways or styles’. He suggests that teachers should meet all students different learning styles.
This is in agreement with Honey and Mumford (1986) who suggest that learners have ‘one of four’ learning styles. It could be said that all lessons should incorporate all learning styles to meet all learners needs. However, Ingleby, Joyce and Powell (2010, p. 17) state that teachers should support students to ‘work effectively in all styles’. This helps to vary learning and make it more thought-provoking. This is in agreement with Coffield (2004) who states that learning style theories are mostly “unreliable, invalid, and have a negligible impact” on learning. Gravells (2012, p. 3) also suggests that ‘when creating your scheme of work, it is useful to know something about your students; for example their previous knowledge and their learning styles. ’ Planning learning can be seen as the second stage of Gravells (2012, p. 10) ‘teaching and learning cycle’ and is essential to ensure the syllabus requirements and learners needs are met. Franklin (1706-1790) stated ‘By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail’, this can be linked to teaching, by not planning successfully the requirements of students or the syllabus may not be met effectively.
Communicating with others and preparing learning materials is also part of planning learning. Developing strong and effective relationships with students, parents, other professionals, support workers and external organisations is an essential role and responsibility of all teachers. This can be seen as part of the teachers responsibility to facilitate learning, the third stage of the ‘teaching and learning cycle’. The primary role and responsibility of the teacher, is to provide an inclusive, safe and motivating learning environment.
For all students to engage in learning and not feel excluded, teaching must be inclusive. Francis and Gould (2009, p. 73) states that teachers should consider ‘inclusive teaching as teaching that allows all learners’ to participate and benefit from all parts of a teaching lesson. Gravells (2012, p. 49) states that teachers need to know the ‘difference between learning support and student support’, knowing when their role ends and when to pass to other agencies. Creating an environment that is inclusive and conducive to learning is an essential responsibility for all teachers. This is in accordance with Gravells (2012, p. 4) who states that ‘a suitable learning environment is crucial for effective learning to take place. ’ Although, this is not in agreement with Hattie (2003), who suggest that the environment does not have a significant impact on students learning or progress. He believes that prior learning and the expertise of the teacher is the key to effective learning. The learning environment can take many forms and must be inclusive, safe and functional. Race (2005, p. 2) states that for students to learn, tutors should create a ‘learning environment’ so learning is easier and more likely.
A passionate and enthusiastic approach to teaching are key elements to achieving success within education. This notion has long been supported; Gravells (2012, p. 9) stated that being ‘enthusiastic and passionate’ about your subject is an attribute of a good teacher. This is in agreement with Lightbody (2009, p. ix) who believes that ‘teaching and learning is about passion. ’ It could be argued that the primary role for good teaching is to challenge and motivate learners to ensure they reach their full potential. This is in agreement with Ingleby, Joyce and Powell (2010, p. ) who believe that teachers should have ‘high expectations, challenge and inspire students’ and ‘encourages’ them. Gravells (2012, p. 40) highlights that teachers ‘need to be aware of what motivates their’ students. She also states that ‘Motivation is either intrinsic (from within), the student wants to learn or extrinsic (from without) an external factor motivating the student. ’ Although, inspiring and motivating students is an essential part of a teachers role, how can they ensure learning takes place and if their teaching is effective. Progress and learning need to be assessed and are essential to monitor if objectives have been reach.
This is in agreement with Francis and Gould (2011, p. 137) that assessment needs to be undertaken to ensure that ‘learning has taken place’. Assessment is also the fourth stage in Gravells (2012, p. 10) ‘teaching and learning cycle’, and she states that progress needs to be assessed and students need relevant feedback to inform them of their learning and progress. This is in agreement with Hattie (2003) who states that feedback has a major influence on students, as it encourages and informs them of what they have learnt and how to improve their learning or skills.
There are many forms of assessment, for example questioning during lessons, completing assignments, projects or exams. Records of assessment should be maintained not only for the student or teacher to check and monitor learning objectives, but for external agencies. External agencies may include government inspection, examining bodies and awarding organisations. Keeping these records is essential for students to gain the relevant qualifications. Hattie (2003) also suggests that students should also assess their own learning or performance.
However, Dunning, Health and Suls (2004, pp. 69-106) disagree and state that ‘students seem largely unable to assess how well or poorly they’ are progressing or cannot assess what they have learnt. The final stage of the ‘teaching and learning cycle’ according to Gravells (2012, p. 10) is the evaluation of the programme. This should be done continually throughout the cycle by obtaining feedback from students, internal and external bodies helps to promote continuous improvement.
This also ensures that the teaching and learning is relevant and effective. In conclusion, the roles, responsibilities and relationships of teachers in the Lifelong Learning sector are wide and varied. Ultimately the main role and responsibility of a teacher is to motivate students to reach their potential, by identifying their starting points and appropriately challenging their learning. It could also be said that teachers must be passionate and knowledgeable about their subject and also be committed to lifelong learning.