It's Elementary!

by Jamie Forrest

My Role as a Teacher November 22, 2010

Filed under: Class reflections,eci831 — Jamie @ 2:01 am

I have been thinking a lot about the roles of the teacher that Stephen Downes talked about last week. Here are the roles that he had slides for:

The Learner, The Collector, The Curator, The Alchemist, The Programmer, The Salesperson, The Convener, The Coordinator, The Designer, The Coach, The Agitator, The Facilitator, Tech Support, The Critic, The Moderator, The Lecturer, The Mentor, The Connector, The Theorizer, The Sharer, The Evaluator, The Bureaucrat, and The Demonstrator.

It was also mentioned in the chat that we may also be The Storyteller.

This is a pretty comprehensive list. I have been all of these at some point or another during my career in the classroom. However, as I walked back into my classroom this week, there were some other roles that kept popping into my mind as I was working with my little ones: Parent, Social Worker, Food Bank Worker, Religious Advisor, Comforter, Nurse, Friend…

I haven’t been teaching that long, relatively speaking. However, in my 10.5 years of teaching, I have seen a change in my role as educator. Yes, I still need to cover curriculum, assess, plan, and everything else I learned in university… But now, it is so much more. Our schools (especially at the elementary level, and in core areas) have come to be counted on to take on these roles more and more. If a child doesn’t have lunch, we make sure they eat. If a child has problems at home, we have to solve them. If there is no Religious teaching at home, we (in a Catholic School) are expected to teach the Religious teachings. We are the safe and soft place for a lot of these kids to be. When most kids celebrate holidays, I always have students who cry about what they may face at home. On a daily basis, I have kids call me mom.

So, what is my role as a teacher? It is all of this. I try to give these kids everything that they need to be successful in both their academic careers and in their lives. If that means getting them food, I’ll do it. If it means playing social worker, I’ll do my best. If I have to wipe up bloody noses, teach what Jesus did, or give a hug, I’ll do it. If it means I get called mom every now and again, I’ll take it as an honour. I’ll learn with them, lecture them, guide them, coach them, connect them, share with them, and present the world to them on a platter (or computer). I am a teacher…


7 Responses to “My Role as a Teacher”

  1. Lisa M Lane Says:

    I am so glad that people who can take on roles like Parent, Social Worker, Food Bank Worker, Religious Advisor, Comforter, Nurse, Friend are there for our children.

    It also helps remind me, as did Stephen’s presentation, of the many, many roles I am either unable or unwilling to undertake. This was a big part of why I chose to teach adults (or almost adults) instead of children, and yet I am always surprised when I do have to be a Comforter or Counselor or Life Coach.

    I think a great many of the roles presented were more applicable to larger situations than classrooms for younger grades, so I’m glad you added these.

  2. Jamie,
    Doing your best is all your students can ask of you, and clearly, you’re up for it. Like you, I face similar challenges and roles in my career as a gr. 7/8 teacher. When I think of the times where I most strongly connected with a student, it involves these “additional” teaching roles you’ve referred to. I’m thankful that as a middle school teacher, I can have this impact with my students when they most need it, helping them attain confidence and success in their lives.

  3. byrnesa Says:


    Your students are lucky to have you, in whatever role you take. I agree that our roles as teacher are changing and it adds daily to our stress levels… but at the end of the day, we do what’s best for our students. I’ve been at workshops lately where teachers have commented that the role of a teacher is to teach the curriculum and that’s it. That it’s time for teachers to stop doing all of those other things so that school divisions will hire more professional staff… I beg to differ. If a child is hungry, we do everything we can to feed them. If a child needs clothing, then we do all we can to satisfy that need. If a child needs a hug, lawsuits aside, we will give them a hug. At the end of the day, especially in elementary and middle years classrooms, once those needs are satisfied, we can worry about the curriculum.

  4. […] as taking on roles OTHER than those discussed with Mr. Downes.  Jamie Forrest commented in her blog that as schools are changing, her role as a Teacher has become one of  ”Parent, Social […]

  5. […] EC&I 831 presentation a few weeks ago and it had me thinking about roles again, and then came Jamie’s blog post, where she re-iterated many of my own thoughts about changing roles.  I know that my roles as a […]

  6. StephDJ Says:

    wow, so nice Jamie! You got me reading and thinking tonight.

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