Teachers’ Broad Conception of Their Role after Several Years

I (Clive) have been working with Clare and Elizabeth on a paper on teacher identity, based on our longitudinal study of teachers. One thing we’ve noticed over the years is how broadly our teachers view their role.
Elizabeth has just developed a table showing what the teachers give priority to in their teaching. In spring 2012 (year 8 for cohort 1 and year 5 for cohort 2) we asked 39 of the teachers:
What do you think are the most important aspects of your role?
What are your main goals for your students?
The top 8 priorities in each case were as follows:

Most Important Aspects of My Role

Provide engaging lessons


Build a community, and a caring and safe environment


Develop a relationship with students


Be a role model


Involve parents



Teacher reflection and ongoing learning



Advocate for student needs


Foster strong literacy abilities in students


Most Important Goals for My Students

Social development




Love of learning




Development of self




Sense of community




Problem solving and critical thinking




Progress in learning












Having such a broad role may appear burdensome for teachers. However, based on the teachers’ comments and our reading of authors such as Mary Kennedy and Nel Noddings, we argue that approaching teaching broadly is in fact more feasible and satisfying. Students are more engaged, understand more deeply, and develop across many aspects of their lives. And teachers are also enriched and find the daily interaction with students more enjoyable.

4 thoughts on “Teachers’ Broad Conception of Their Role after Several Years

  1. I am intrigued that most of the participants felt building a relationship with their students was key to their role. I have found similar results in my own study. We have come a long way.

  2. This is fascinating. In an era where teachers are stressed with literacy and numeracy test scores they still express that their goals for both themselves and their students are founded on the humanist principles. Thinks leads to me think about teacher education and how we should approach teacher education at the university. If teachers value humanist principles, should we build on that in teacher education or do we focus on curriculum oriented courses? Perhaps a more integrated approach to curriculum delivery with a focus on critical thinking might be an alternative.

    1. Very interesting! I agree with Yiola, as even in Brazil we have to build a more integrated approach to curriculum delivery with a focus on critical thinking. This research are very helpful as it gives voice to the teachers! Congratulations!

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