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Teachers fill a complex set of roles, which vary from one society to another and from one educational
level to another. Some of these roles are performed in the school, others in the community.
 A Role is a set of expected behavior associated with one’s position in society.
• A role set is a series of related activities conducted by a person who occupies a given social
position. It is a number of roles attached to a single status. Robert. K. Merton came up with the
term role set in 1957.

Traits or Characteristics of a Role

 A role can be specific: A specific role can be played in specific situations, at specific time and
has clearly defined boundaries
 Diffused role: has no set time limit, it has no clear boundaries. The role of a teacher is said to
be more diffused than specific because a teachers does not know when to stop performing their
 Affective role- It involves emotions. There are certain roles that require one to have certain
emotions when performing them. For instance, when a teacher is performing the role of a parent
 Neutral or Non-Affective role-no emotions are involved. E.G when a teacher is performing the
role of a disciplinarian.
 Particularistic – it a role that can only be played or performed to certain people and cannot be
extended to others. E.G the role of a wife.
 Universal - can played anywhere and to anyone

Roles of a Teacher in the School

Havighurst and Neugarten identified a set of six separate sub-roles of teacher in the school

1) Mediator/facilitator of Learning
• A teacher facilities learning and this is one of the most important roles of a teacher
• A mediational/facilitation approach aims at helping learners to construct their own knowledge,
solve problems independently and understand their own thinking processes.
• As a mediator of learning, a teacher should therefore be sensitive to the diverse needs of the
learners, construct appropriate learning environments, demonstrate sound knowledge of the
subject and be equipped with the necessary method of delivery.

2) Disciplinarian or controller of student behaviour

• As a disciplinarian, a teacher instils discipline in learner, teaches the rules about appropriate
behaviour and maintains order in the classroom.

3) Parent Substitute
• This is a very important role of a teacher especially in lower classes. A teacher supplements in
the school what parents do at home. In order for a teacher to perform this role very well, a good
rapport between the teacher and the pupils is vital.

4) Judge
• A teacher is a judge of students’ Performance and behaviour.
• As a judge, a teacher interprets what is right or wrong in the academics. S/he decides what is
wrong or right behaviour in other areas of interactions.
• S/he rewards acceptable behaviour and punishes wrong behaviour. In order to perform this role
very well, a teacher needs to be neutral.

5) Confidant/Counselor
• A teacher offers advice both of academic and social in nature. The role of the teacher is to help
a student realize his/her potential to solve it. Counselling works on the principle that every
individual, if guided properly, can realize the strength of self to solve problem of self. As a
result, a teacher does not have always to give solutions.
• To play this role very well, a teacher needs to be: approachable and trust worthy, a keen
observer, sensitive, empathetic, and objective.

6) Carrier of Middle Class Values

• A teacher is expected to transmit middle-class values. Values of society transmitted by teachers
include: Good morals, dependability and good citizenship.

Other roles of a teacher identified by other scholars

Manager: a teacher manages resources within the school and creates a good learning environment -
arrange their classrooms to minimize disturbances.

Role Models: A role model is someone we admire and someone we aspire to be like. We look to them
for advice and guidance. Some of our most influential and life-changing role models for pupils are
teachers. Teachers are in a position to pass along lessons, not only regarding subject matter, but lessons
on life. Students tend to copy the behavior and mannerism of the teachers. If the teacher is honest, leads
a balanced and disciplined life, the children adopt these virtues as an ideal conduct unconsciously

Teacher’s Roles in the Community

Advisor/consultant, Community Leader, Transmit values, Role model, Facilitator of knowledge.

Role conflicts
When performing their roles, teachers sometimes face role conflicts.
 Role conflicts occur when one is forced to take on two different and incompatible roles at the
same time
 There are two types of role conflicts: intra-role conflicts and inter-role conflicts.
o Intra-role conflicts are conflicts within a role. A single role may contain elements that
are not easily harmonized. Role player in such a case is caught between two contrasting
demands and faces intra-role conflicts. E.G. when a teachers faces conflicts when
performing his/her role as a disciplinarian and as a counsellor.
o Inter-role conflicts are conflicts which happen between or among roles. They arise
when the requirements and expectations of one role interfere or conflict with those of
another role. Eg when a teacher’s roles in the school interferes with her role as a mother
or wife.

Sources of role conflicts
Some of the conflicts that teachers experience are as result of:
• The vulnerability of educational institutions (teachers’ work places) to outside pressure
• A teacher’s inability to perform the roles assigned them.
• Diffused roles that teachers play create intra-role conflicts. A teacher does know when to stop
performing their role. This puts pressure on them.

Strategies of Coping with Role-Conflicts

 A teacher must identify the most sources of influence over their role. This will help them to
avoid the role conflicts.
 Stick to your professional judgment. E.g when a teacher faces pressure from the community on
certain decisions that they make, they have to stick to their professional judgement.
 Establish two-way communication between yourself and the local people.