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Roles vs. responsibilities of a teacher

Updated April 17, 2017

Teachers serve many roles and must balance them with the expectations and responsibilities of their jobs. At the foundation are the roles and responsibilities of providing a sound education to students while supporting the efforts of the school to facilitate learning. Roles differ from responsibilities by the expectation of what the results will be. A role is something the teacher willingly or voluntarily takes on while a responsibility is something the teacher must do as part of her job.

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Student Interaction

Teachers are responsible for providing sound instruction for students within a circumscribed curriculum. This means that, by the time a semester or school year ends, students should have gained a working and usable knowledge of what they have been taught within the state standards. Teachers are also responsible for maintaining a good rapport with students and providing a safe place for students to come with questions or problems. Additionally, a teacher may choose to take on the role of a mentor to students who show an interest in a subject that goes beyond what is taught in class.

School Support

Teachers are responsible for helping support the school's goals. This may mean going beyond regular classroom hours and putting in additional time to be available for staff meetings, school board meetings or curriculum development. Because teachers are the ones that work each day, directly, with students, it is important that they contribute to enhancing education, adjusting teaching methods and planning. Outside of this, a teacher may choose to take on the role of a volunteer to assist with school activities, such as theatre, sports or band.

Education Advancement

Because educational policies and practices evolve over time, with changes in society, the needs of students and even changing laws, teachers are responsible for staying current with the latest technology, methods, research and trends in the subject matter to provide students with an education that is relevant to the real world. Depending on a school's budget, a teacher may not always be able to purchase items with school funds to support this goal, he may decide to take on the role of provider -- purchasing classroom materials -- or as an advocate -- pushing for more funds to help with buying class supplies.


All teachers bear the responsibility of leadership. As teachers, they are naturally leaders of the students in their classes and must maintain order, enforce school regulations and policies, conduct parent-teacher conferences and lead by example, demonstrating good communication and interpersonal skills. Aside from these responsibilities, a teacher may decide to parlay that leadership into a voluntary role in the school, sitting on committees, initiating community projects, fighting for changes in the school or district and standing up for the needs or rights of one student or even many.

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About the Author

Alicia Purdy is a freelance writer and editor living in Utah. She has a master's degree in journalism and a bachelor's degree in broadcast communications.

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