The real duties of the effective modem teacher are much broader and much more complicated than the average layman believes. Far too many individuals still think that the teacher works only between the hours of 9 and 3 or 3:30, during which time he is “hearing lessons” and disciplining children; and when they go home his day is over.
Nothing could be farther from the truth, for it seems that each year the teacher’s task becomes a more complicated ‘one. More and more of the responsibilities that were formerly accepted by the home are being transferred in whole or in part to the school. Beyond this, additional services are expected from the teacher as a member of the community in which he lives and in which he teaches.
Consequently, it may be well for us to look at the teacher’s work from three different points of view:
(a) Teaching duties and non-teaching duties within the school
(b) Activities within the community
(c) Activities as a co-worker with other teachers
Duties within the School
The Teaching Process
Without question, it is accepted that the main task of the teacher on either the elementary or the secondary level is that of guiding the children in the learning process. At the elementary level the teacher is generally associated with a smaller number of pupils for a longer period of time each day. In either case the conduct of many formal classes or subject- matter groups is involved. The elementary teacher is more likely, on the other hand, to work with small groups within her larger grade.
The modern teacher is a guide and a friend of children who stimulates and directs their learning towards the end of truly democratic living. He is neither taskmaster nor driver, although that type of discipline or control must be maintained which will permit the effective carrying on of the activities that are supposed to be carried on. The teacher who cannot get his students to attain this standard of behavior in the classroom can in no sense become effective.
In addition to the guiding and directing of learning in groups or classes, the good teacher will continually be working with individuals, studying their needs and assisting them where individual help is necessary. For the elementary school much of this can occur in the classroom, but it is inevitable that some of it will also have to be done outside of the formal school hours both before the session starts and after it closes.
Preparation for Daily Teaching
It goes without saying that any good teacher will need to do much planning for the, work of the classroom. Lesson Plans must be made either in substance or in detail. For the beginning teacher this will have to be done more carefully and thoroughly than will be necessary as one grows in experience and in ability. In some schools, these plans will have to be available for the supervisor for inspection and approval. Then there are other materials to be prepared, such as photographs, various audio-visual aids, bulletin boards to be planned, and other material looked after.
In some cases, too, the preparation and planning of field trips must be attended to and frequently this involves many hours of work, such as contacting places to be visited, arranging for transportation, securing parental permission, and providing for chaperones.
It must not be forgotten, however, that effective members of every profession have their “homework” to do. Teachers may seem, at times, to have more than their share but to an extent it can and must be kept under control. Otherwise, there will be no room for personal growth.