Role of a teacher in the lifelong learning sector This case study investigates the role and responsibilities of a teacher in the lifelong learning sector. I am a piano and guitar tutor on a one to one basis, so I have my own views and methods on teaching. However, I thought it would be interesting to study how a teacher deals with a whole class, as opposed to just one pupil. Further to the research for the study, an interview was conducted with Joe Bloggs, a teacher in School X.
The interview examined a number of areas including: roles and responsibilities, boundaries, promoting equality and diversity, safe and supportive learning environments, promoting appropriate behaviour, legal and moral responsibilities, the challenges and rewards of the role and how Joe has had to adapt and respond to the ongoing changes in the lifelong learning sector. The first question covered what Joe considered to be his main responsibility as a teacher; to engage and motivate young people in the subject of music and learning in general. He uses a variety of methods to accomplish this.
For example, practical sessions/role play and getting everyone involved, as well as written assessments, presentations and various visual tasks to ensure all different types of learners are accounted for. This is effective when teaching music history /theory, however, when a student is learning to play an instrument, all these areas are covered naturally. Joe allows his pupils to make mistakes, for example, if a pupil is playing a piece of music and they hit a wrong note, he will wait to see if they can identify that they were out of tune first.
This is another way of working on their aural skills. If they do not pick up on it he ensures the mistakes are addressed and provides help and advice to rectify the problem. Conjointly, we addressed the topic of promoting equality and diversity. Joe feels strongly about this and his approach is through film/music stimulation, with focus on a particular character or topic. Two popular examples of this are Forest Gump, where the main character has a disability and the film ‘The Island’ which deals with race issues.
Using this method has proven effective, as Joe has found through reflective discussions with the class after watching the film. One of the challenges that Joe has had to face during his time in the teaching profession is behaviour problems with the pupils. This covered a whole spectrum of issues such as disruptions, bad attitude, pupils refusing to complete tasks and even verbal abuse and physical threats. The methods in which Joe deals with this brings me onto the field of boundaries between the teacher and pupil.
Along with legal boundaries, and following rules and regulations according to the Code of Conduct and Data Protection Act – physical boundaries are extremely important. When teaching/dealing with a pupil, he says distance must be kept, however, he feels that in most cases, experience will enable friendly and approachable relationships. If a matter was to arise that was out of his hands, it would be his duty to report it to the school safeguarding officer/counsellor.
Another way in which he deals with this is to set a good example to the pupils, as ensuring appropriate behaviour is a major factor in maintaining a safe and supportive learning environment. Joe adopts a friendly and positive attitude towards his pupils, ensuring that he never raises his voice, yet be firm and serious where necessary. The aim of this is so that the pupils’ perception of their teacher is approachable, but at the same time they see their teacher as a figure of authority. Although this has proved quite demanding, the biggest challenge Joe has had to face is the ever-changing development in technology.
He tried to continue his teaching without it but this became increasingly difficult due to changes in assessment criteria and the demand of technology in general, particularly in music. Music has developed throughout the years, for example, we don’t need to compose music for ourselves these days. We can use music programs to do that for us, such as Garageband or Sibelius. Joe decided the only way to tackle this is to embrace it. This has helped a great deal with teaching and by doing this he has furthered his own education.
The school that Joe teaches at has recently become an academy, so it is now more performing arts-orientated where as before, the school focused more on the academic side of things. This has forced him to take on a bigger work load and thus proved his capability to adapt and respond to changes quickly. Joe’s response to a lot of the questions portrays how education in music and generally has evolved with respect to time and the steps he has had to take in order to meet the requirements of his role and adapt to the ongoing changes.
When faced with the question regarding ethical responsibilities, he had some interesting techniques on how he engaged this topic with his pupils. Practice is an essential for learning an instrument, Joe motivates and encourages his pupils that regular practice is the key to progression. He evaluates progress with tests covering all different types of learning such as aural, sight reading, written, and through practical tests. Both Joe and I have found that through music, it is easy to distinguish the strengths and weaknesses of our pupils and how they best learn.
For example, one person may be able to listen to a piece of music and play by ear, whereas the next pupil will not be able to do that, but will excel in reading the music. Joe understands it is important to acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of each individual and sees that each pupil is facilitated for in order to help them achieve their full potential. Joe mentioned various internal and external points of referral, for example, the awarding bodies, and the Academy’s safeguarding officers/counsellors.
It is evident that he has a strong passion for music as he gave up his career as a pilot in order to pursue his music career. In defiance of the challenges Joe has been faced with, his subtle, yet dynamic and enthusiastic approach helped him to overcome them. I found during my time with Joe, that although there are many generic rules, responsibilities and boundaries that all teachers/tutors have to adhere to, there are also those that are specific and subject to the area of study. It is imperative that these are recognised in order to achieve a finer understanding of the role of the teacher.