Role of the Class Teacher in Primary Schools

Role of the Class Teacher in Primary Schools

Effective teaching and learning is critically important for all pupils, and especially for those with special educational needs. Meaningful inclusion implies that all pupils are taught in stimulating and supportive classroom environments where they are respected and valued. Mainstream class teachers have first-line responsibility for the education of all pupils in their classes. Accordingly, classroom teachers should ensure that they plan their lessons carefully to address the diverse needs within the classroom. They may need to adapt their teaching approaches for some pupils whose individual progress, application, motivation, communication, behaviour or interaction with peers are causes for concern. This may require targeted interventions to develop relevant adaptive skills related to these needs. All mainstream class teachers should implement teaching approaches and methodologies that facilitate the meaningful inclusion of pupils with special educational needs. These include:

  • Co-operative teaching and learning within mainstream classrooms
  • Collaborative problem-solving activities
  • Heterogeneous group work
  • Differentiation
  • Interventions to promote social and emotional competence
  • Embedding Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in teaching, learning and assessment

Every pupil needs to be taught a broad and balanced curriculum that is appropriate to his/her developmental level. Pupils’ levels of interest, attention, concentration and persistence should be gradually developed, extended and rewarded, using appropriate teaching strategies. To cater for the range of learning needs in any class, mainstream class teachers will regularly need to differentiate their lessons. This can be achieved by:

  • Varying the level, structure, mode of instruction and pace of lessons to meet individual needs
  • Adapting lessons to take account of pupils’ interests
  • Matching tasks to pupils’ abilities and needs
  • Adapting and utilising resources, including the use of technology
  • Aspiring towards suitably challenging learning outcomes and assessing accordingly

Teachers can make lessons accessible to a broad range of pupils through the use of a variety of appropriate teaching approaches and methodologies, including active learning, small-group tuition, individual teaching, and scaffolded instruction. This may also require environmental adaptations to promote curricular access.

The 7 Roles of a Teacher in the 21st Century:

Most teachers take on a variety of roles within the classroom, which role do you think most defines your role in the classroom?

1. The Controller: The teacher is in complete charge of the class, what students do, what they say and how they say it. The teacher assumes this role when a new language is being introduced and accurate reproduction and drilling techniques are needed.

In this classroom, the teacher is mostly the center of focus, the teacher may have the gift of instruction, and can inspire through their own knowledge and expertise, but, does this role really allow for enough student talk time? Is it really enjoyable for the learners? There is also a perception that this role could have a lack of variety in its activities.

2. The Prompter: The teacher encourages students to participate and makes suggestions about how students may proceed in an activity. The teacher should be helping students only when necessary.

When learners are literally ‘lost for words’, the prompter can encourage by discreetly nudging students. Students can sometimes lose the thread or become unsure how to proceed; the prompter in this regard can prompt but always in a supportive way.

3. The Resource: The teacher is a kind of walking resource center ready to offer help if needed, or provide learners with whatever language they lack when performing communicative activities. The teacher must make her/himself available so that learners can consult her/him when (and only when) it is absolutely necessary.

As a resource the teacher can guide learners to use available resources such as the internet, for themselves, it certainly isn’t necessary to spoon-feed learners, as this might have the downside of making learners reliant on the teacher.

4. The Assessor: The teacher assumes this role to see how well students are performing or how well they performed. Feedback and correction are organized and carried out.

There are a variety of ways we can grade learners, the role of an assessor gives teachers an opportunity to correct learners. However, if it is not communicated with sensitivity and support it could prove counter-productive to a student’s self-esteem and confidence in learning the target language.

5. The Organizer: Perhaps the most difficult and important role the teacher has to play. The success of many activities depends on good organization and on the students knowing exactly what they are to do next. Giving instructions is vital in this role as well as setting up activities.

The organizer can also serve as a demonstrator, this role also allows a teacher to get involved and engaged with learners. The teacher also serves to open and neatly close activities and also give content feedback.

6. The Participant: This role improves the atmosphere in the class when the teacher takes part in an activity. However, the teacher takes a risk of dominating the activity when performing it.

Here the teacher can enliven a class; if a teacher is able to stand back and not become the center of attention, it can be a great way to interact with learners without being too overpowering.

7. The Tutor: The teacher acts as a coach when students are involved in project work or self-study. The teacher provides advice and guidance and helps students clarify ideas and limit tasks.

This role can be a great way to pay individual attention to a student. It can also allow a teacher to tailor make a course to fit specific student needs. However, it can also lead to a student becoming too dependent or even too comfortable with one teacher and one method or style of teaching. 

Now that we’ve had a chance to look at some of the variety of roles let’s see how we can adopt these into a real classroom activity/task:



Team game

energetic, clear, fair, encouraging

Role Play

supportive, retiring, clear, encouraging

Teacher reading aloud

dramatic, interesting commanding

Whole class listing

efficient, clear, supportive

What we notice here is that the roles are often interchangeable. The teacher’s role is never static. One activity could see an experienced teacher smoothly transition from one role to another.

That said, the 21st-century classroom is created on the premise that students experience what they require to enter the 21st-century workplace and live in the global environment. The characteristics of the 21st-century classroom, therefore, sets it apart from the 20th-century classroom.

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