Within this assignment, I will explore the role of the professional teacher and the effects this has on a child’s educational experience. The role of the professional teacher is outlined by the Teachers Standards 2011, which defines the expectations of a trainee teacher whilst in the process of training to becoming a teacher from the point of qualification. These standards are continuously referred to throughout the teaching career, such as during appraisals and reviews, to assess the performance of the teacher and the role they are taking upon themselves to provide the most beneficial teaching and learning to each individual child within their care.
The role the teacher decides to exhibit, inevitably has a significant impact on the child’s learning, in the majority of cases a positive impact can be seen, whilst in other cases, the impact may be negative. The first role the Teachers Standards refers to, requires a professional teacher to ‘set high expectations which inspire, motivate and challenge pupils’ (Department of Education, 2011) It is believed that motivation is key to successful teaching and is valued highly within the learning environment and according to Seeling (2016), teaching is about inspiration, not information. The value of this role is suggested by Bruner when he claims “teaching is the canny art of intellectual temptation,” (2013) suggesting that the success and effectiveness varies depending upon the motivational techniques demonstrated by the pedagogue and experienced by the children. According to Evans (1959, pp.22- 36) motivation is key to the learning journey of a child and often depends on the personality of the teacher and their success in building positive relationships with the children they teach. This indicates that having the ability to motivate children improves the way they learn and how they are inspired to perform to their fullest potential, suggesting motivation is a role adopted by the most professional teacher. A pedagogue can motivate their pupils with a variety of teaching techniques, such as modelling, which has been recognized to inspire children to take an active involvement in their learning.
Hayes (1949 pp. 146) suggests many pedagogues use modelling as it is one the most successful ways of providing a real-life demonstration of what is expected and what can be achieved. Modelling can be underpinned by Banduras Social Learning Theory, which insists that children learn from the people who surround them on a daily basis, which can also be supported by Vygotsky’s learning theory, which indicates the role of the professional teacher can be achieved by inspiring children through modelling. According to Bandura, (1986) inspiring a child through modelling embraces attention, motivation and memory, therefore when a teacher demonstrates positive attitudes towards the child, exhibiting care and trust, the child is likely to demonstrate similar positive behaviors, exhibiting good behavior for learning, as supported by Roosevelt when he states “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care”. (Seeling, 2016) This indicates that demonstrating positive attitudes and behaviors will inspire children to do so to, allowing the success of the professional teacher in achieving Teachers’ Standard. Although many research findings and theorists agree that motivation is one of the most important aspects of the professional teacher, some research pieces overlook motivation, such as the work of Stiles (1991), who claims that motivation can evoke shame, rather than the result of good behavior and positive learning development. This can also be supported by Tangney & Dearing (2002), who suggests that children may feel shamed when they are unable to achieve something that has been demonstrated by a teacher, as a result, causing a child to regard themselves as deficient and underachieving.
As a direct result of this, a child is likely to feel embarrassed and may become withdrawn from the learning environment, therefore preventing the child from making progress. This therefore prevents a teacher from achieving their role of the professional teacher as good progress cannot be made. The professional teacher is also required to ‘adapt teaching to respond to the strength and needs of all pupils’ (Department of Education, 2011), again outlined within the Teachers’ Standards.
Many professionals agree the importance of meeting individual needs, recognizing that all pupils are unique individuals. According to Banks and Mayes, (2012, pp. 8-12) this requires teachers to acknowledge their pupils’ emotional, educational, social and physical needs throughout all aspects of the educational process, including planning, overcoming barriers and adapting support to enhance individual development. In recent years, differentiation has become a valued method used to improve attainment skills amongst mixed ability classrooms in order to adapt teaching to each child’s individual learning needs. Many barriers to learning can contribute to poor attainment levels, (Removing Barriers to Learning, 2004) however, whatever the cause of the underachievement, it becomes the role of the professional teacher to provide the child with specific interventions that are needs led. These interventions may include one-to-one focus sessions, interventions from external agencies or the adaption of teaching techniques to support the child’s current needs. According to Dunne (2007 pp. 75-77), differentiation is a pedological approach that is a key strategy to low attaining pupils.
She claims that the majority of teachers adopt a different pedological approach when adapting their teaching strategies when teaching children of higher and lower attainment levels. (Effective Teaching and Learning for Pupils in Low Attaining Groups, 2007) Differentiation has been seen to have a significant impact on learners, allowing those of low attainment levels to access the curriculum in ways that children in past years may not have been able to (Talking Point, 2014). The role of a professional teacher who is successful in providing a positive learning journey for a child requires them to be able to ‘differentiate properly’, allowing them to teach their pupils effectively. According to Spillman, ‘the key to the differentiated curriculum is the flexible use by teachers of a wide range of activities and lesson organisations,’ (1991 pp. 47-50) indicating teachers should deliver the curriculum in a variety of different ways, as agreed by Pearsons (2014), who claim that differentiation can be delivered in three steps: teach (planning), practice (pupil assessment) and assess (decision making) to accommodate their pedological approaches to the individual needs of the children in their class. Differentiation can be demonstrated in a range of ways, such as individual target setting, where learning outcomes and targets are made based on the individual’s abilities, which will challenge them without overwhelming them with difficulty.
When a teacher is able to do this in a successful way, the child is able to work at a level and pace that is suitable to their needs and abilities, therefore is able to be assessed as an individual, rather than being assessed compared to other children who are of a higher ability. As a result, the teacher is able to remove barriers, such as anxiety or stress that causes a child to become overwhelmed by the work that has been set, instead enjoying their learning journey. On the other hand, some professionals may critique the use of differentiation, such as Kerry (2002), who pinpoints the consequences of the pedological approach. He states that methods such as individual target setting is too time consuming for teachers to carry out in the most effective way, (Learning Objectives, Task Setting and Differentiation, 2002) therefore prevents a teacher from carrying out other roles that are required, such as using lesson time effectively, when instead of setting targets with a child’s input, the child could be taking part in intense intervention sessions to improve their literacy skills. As a direct result of this, a teacher is unlikely to achieve the role of a professional teacher.