What are teacher responsibilities? (List of duties)

Updated 16 January 2023

Teachers play an instrumental role in engaging students with their education and learning. They handle varying responsibilities on a daily basis to help create effective and stimulating learning environments. Understanding the many responsibilities a teacher has is beneficial for determining whether you're suitable for this role and whether this career path is right for you. In this article, we define what a teacher does and share a detailed list of teacher responsibilities.

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What is a teacher?

Teachers are professional educators who guide students in their learning. They're mentors, helping students expand their knowledge and skills and preparing them for the working world following the completion of their education. Teachers help students cultivate hard and soft skills they can carry into multiple aspects of their lives. Examples of these skills include time management, technical knowledge and listening.

Related: 10 teacher career paths: requirements, salaries and duties

What are teacher responsibilities?

Common teacher responsibilities include:

Planning lessons

This involves knowing and understanding the best ways to engage students and help them retain new information. Preparation might include setting objectives, deciding on a certain methodology and choosing educational resources and learning materials that maximise engagement and suit the subject in question.

If you're introducing a new subject or topic, planning your lesson might include allowing time at the start of the class to do a short test or asking students questions to gauge their knowledge. Obtaining this information identifies which students may require additional support and guides the structuring of the lesson.

Related: 14 essential teacher skills

Researching different teaching styles and developing unique teaching methods

No two children are the same, so even if you have a specific teaching style, it doesn't mean it's going to work in all scenarios. If you have a child in your class who struggles to stay on task or becomes distracted easily, you may need to take a different approach. Researching some alternative teaching methods and trying these out could help ensure maximum engagement and stimulation of all your students.

Marking completed work and assigning grades

Teachers usually track students' progress by marking completed work and assigning grades to form performance records. Not only do grades help monitor the level students are working at, but they also show how successful certain teaching styles and methods are. If grades are lower than expected across the class, this may suggest a lack of engagement, allowing you to adjust your lessons accordingly. Grades also help teachers identify students' strengths and focus more on the areas they're lacking in.

Related: Qualifications to be a teacher (Undergrad to leadership)

Providing one-to-one support

Teachers are a source of one-to-one support for their students. Students can confide in their teachers about their learning and any difficulties they face, whether at home or school. By offering this support and being approachable to students, teachers can provide assistance with tutoring or arrange additional resources to ensure success. This responsibility provides teachers with the ability to offer tailored teaching styles, improving student performance and grades.

Working towards furthering professional development and learning

New teaching styles and methods are actively being developed, which is why it's key for teachers to work towards their own learning and professional development by staying up to date with any new practices. Prioritising professional development as a teacher ensures your students have the best chance of succeeding in their studies, whilst also increasing the likelihood of creating an effective and engaging learning environment. Keeping up to date also provides you with access to new materials and teaching resources.

Encouraging student engagement and participation

Actively encouraging the engagement and participation of students during lessons is a successful way to ensure students are learning and retaining information. Simple ways to do so include letting students ask questions and creating fun activities related to the subject. When students feel comfortable sharing ideas, their information retention increases, maximising their progress.

Related: 9 common teacher assistant interview questions and example answers

Researching new methods to implement

Conducting research on varying teaching methods is essential as some students may thrive more with specific methods. When considering teaching methods, there are certain factors to pay close attention to, including:

  • Class size: If you're working with larger classes, offering one-to-one support and assistance to struggling students is usually harder but not impossible. It requires more forward planning and may involve you counting on teaching assistants to provide support.

  • Audience: Consider your students and what you know about their learning habits to ensure new teaching methods are suitable and likely to encourage engagement. Make sure any teaching methods you use suit the age range of your students and the complexity of the teaching topic.

  • Objectives: Prioritise what students need to take away from the lesson when considering your teaching methods. For example, while watching videos is fun for students, if they're likely to find this a distraction and won't remember key facts, this method is not appropriate.

  • Subject matter: If the subject is technical, for example, maths, then a demonstration-style lesson that has a clear structure may be advisable. If it's a simpler subject, like PE, teachers have the opportunity to adopt a more creative, less structured approach.

Creating assessments and overseeing the completion of exams

Teachers use assessments to determine the performance level and understanding of their students. These assessments are a mixture of tests they set and mandatory examinations based on age. While they put students under pressure, assessments allow teachers to identify which topics need prioritisation, whether through additional lessons or a change of teaching style.

Contributing to open days or other educational events

A teacher's role at open days and educational events varies depending on the type of educational organisation or institution. It usually involves communicating their learning and teaching approaches and discussing what support and educational guides are available with potential students and their parents. This requires teachers to be friendly, positive and approachable to encourage children to apply for a place at a school.

Related: How to become a supply teacher in 8 steps (Plus definition)

Communicating with educational organisations and other teachers

Teachers are responsible for encouraging and cultivating a collaborative working environment dedicated to engaging students and achieving progress in their learning. Teaching is a demanding role, so when teachers communicate with each other, they can ease some of the workloads by sharing methods and resources. Collaboration also helps to create a better learning experience for students, which contributes to higher student achievements.

Administrative tasks to maximise student learning

Teachers have a range of admin-related responsibilities that contribute to effective lesson planning and the accurate tracking of student progress. Some administrative tasks include:

  • Preparing lesson resources and materials: This task may involve photocopying or printing copies of lesson materials to help guide and support students. Teachers may also create presentations to show to the class.

  • Preparing homework: A large part of a student's learning is done at home, so teachers also have to prepare documents and activities children take home with them at the end of the day.

  • Maintaining student progress records: It's beneficial for teachers to have a detailed and organised record of student progress. This helps to highlight areas where knowledge is lacking and determine which teaching methods and styles may not be as effective.

  • Logging behavioural issues or safeguarding concerns: A teacher has the duty to care for their students, so if they notice any concerning behaviour, it's their responsibility to report it to the relevant individual. This usually includes writing and submitting a report.

Manage student behaviour

Teachers also have the responsibility of managing student behaviour during lessons, particularly negative or disruptive behaviour. This includes speaking out during lessons, talking and disrupting other students and refusing to carry out tasks. Being consistent with how you handle bad behaviour helps you show students you're in control and is likely to prevent other students from acting out as well.

Maintain detailed records

Teachers are typically expected to record the attendance of students to ensure they aren't missing too many days of school. They also record accidents and injuries, with this information typically passed on to parents. Any instances of bullying also require some form of record, with most schools having their own systems for reporting this behaviour.

Meeting with parents and students to discuss progress

Teachers are responsible for discussing students' progress with their parents plus the students themselves. Communicating specific achievements and identifying areas that require more attention could have a significant impact on a student's final results. While teachers take part in regular parent evenings, they may also have to contact parents directly with concerns they have throughout the year.

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