This article focuses on the role of the teacher and the styles of teaching which are highly instrumental in guaranteeing the efficiency of teaching practices and building a healthy teacher-student relationship. In the context of present-day reality creating a favorable classroom environment is essential for securing a healthy learning process. To this end, the teacher should be intrinsically aware of their standpoint so that he or she could make an effective use of it with a view to establish a constructive teacher-student partnership, which in turn paves the way for student independence in the future.
Keywords: teaching style, teacher competences, teacher-student partnership, favorable class environment, learner independence, teacher credibility, student-friendly atmosphere
The role of the teacher in present-day reality.
Our present-day reality has imbued teaching practices with new shades. Given the growing tendency towards learner independence in the 21st century, the role of the teacher has been changing, along with the teaching format and methods. Students are no longer prepared to unconditionally trust any teacher that comes their way. Teacher credibility has become essential for running a successful class. As it happens, this credibility is unthinkable without a favorable classroom environment and a student-friendly style of teaching.
Jeremy Harmer identifies several possible roles that the teacher could possible play in a contemporary classroom. Basically, he places teacher roles between two extremes: the teacher as controller, on the one hand, and the teacher as facilitator, on the other [1, p. 236]. Positioned somewhere in the middle are the roles of the teacher as assessor, and the teacher as organizer [1, p. 239].
While there is every ground to agree to the teacher roles suggested by Jeremy Harmer, the requirements imposed by present-day reality have produced yet new functions for the teacher to take on if he or she wants to successfully share their knowledge with the students.
In the conditions of today, a major role to be assumed by any teacher, an English teacher in particular, is that of a partner. Partnership is crucial for building trust, be it between the teacher and the students, or the manager and employees. In turn, trust is indispensable for achieving teacher credibility and creating a student-friendly atmosphere. Thus, the teacher and students become partners in learning and sharing, with either party being fully aware of the benefits of this shared practice.
In addition to being a quality partner, the present-day teacher is expected to be an efficient manager with an appropriate style that matches his or her teaching methods and the class environment. Management styles are commonly described as autocratic, paternalistic, democratic, laissez-faire and chaotic.
The autocratic manager tends to force his will on his subordinates but may on certain occasions allow them some freedom in performing their duties. In this case, the manager could be dubbed a «permissive autocrat» . However, most autocratic managers do not allow for any initiative or a decision-making say and have the sole responsibility of taking solutions without bothering much about the subordinates and their point of view. The autocratic or authoritative management style simply expects all orders to be followed to the letter without question. The result is that staff working under such a manager completely lack motivation .
The paternalistic management style is closely related to the autocratic. The paternalistic manager positions himself as a symbolic father-figure who arguably attends to the needs of his employees in order to prop up their morale but reserves the right to ultimate decision-making . Nevertheless, in such a style of working, the suggestions and feedback from the subordinates are taken into consideration and employees feel attached and loyal towards their organization .
The democratic management style allows for direct participation in decision-making by subordinates. As suggested by the word «democracy», this is a two-way management style, which calls for a delegation of duties and good leadership skills. Employees working under a democratic manager may feel more responsibility as they play a more direct role in decision-making . The democratic style ensures effective and healthy communication between management and the employees since the superiors listen to what their subordinates have to say before finalizing on something .
In the laissez-faire style of working managers do not contribute much to the organization, the employess take decisions and manage work on their own . The chaotic management approach works along the same lines. It empowers employees to make all of their decisions and assigns senior team members to offer guidance . Even though «chaotic» could hardly be associated with successful business approaches, it has become popular in companies that deal with innovative technology in rapidly developing industries .
Similarly, teachers as class managers could be divided along the same lines into autocratic/authoritarian, paternalistic, democratic, laisser-faire, and chaotic. A survey among fellow teachers, which was conducted, by T. M. Murzina and E. V. Drozdova revealed that 90 % percent of the respondents demonstrate a clearly democratic approach to dealing with people. The questions in the questionnaire were designed on the pattern of a personality test with a view to bring out the respondent's common reaction to everyday encounters, such as their response to someone saying something wrong or challenging their opinion, or interrupting their conversation, or complimenting them. Only a negligible percentage of those who filled in the quesionnaire chose the passive, aggressive, or «can't-care-less» position in handling a dispute or interacting with society.
A two-way democratic approach and trust-based partnership are taking upper hand in the 21st century communication practices. A contemporary classroom can thus be seen as a miniature illustration of the present-day trends in the society and community as a whole. As teaching styles invariably reflect all these trends and do have a lasting impact on the learners, one look at the class is enough to judge the style of the teacher or understand whether there is an effective teacher-student partnership. A passive class with an overall blank expression or fearful look speaks of an autocratic teacher, whereas an active, friendly and ready-to-cooperate group reflects a democratic envrionment and a democratic-minded teacher.
Teaching styles are thus as essential and beneficial to the community as the management approaches. Considering that management has become a major area of work in the 21st century office, a contemporary teacher is expected not only to be well-versed in syllabus — he or she is supposed to be equally developed as a personality and advanced as a manager in order to impart the necessary professional, communication and survival skills to the generation to come.
- Harmer J. The Practice of English Language Teaching New Edition, 1991.
- «Exploring Different Management Styles» (электронный ресурс), http://www.managerialskills.org/management-styles/