The role of the teacher is to attempt to reach every child in some way. I have encountered students who refuse to pick up any book assigned in class, but when they see me reading Stephen King (or Kurt Vonnegut, or Daniel Handler, or whatever author sparks their interest), they tell me about the other 10 books they've read. I try to take that passion and apply it to the class. Maybe, instead of completing dialectical journals for Brave New World, they can complete them for Player Piano or Feed. Then we discuss parallels and why one books appeals to them more than others.
What I do is try to understand my students...who are they? Where do they come from? How does their background affect their knowledge of curriculum & performance? I think that this is one way in which education has evolved for the better: Teachers (in theory at least) no longer deliver instruction and wait for the students to sink or swim. There is a concentrated effort to prepare students for their futures as more than depositories of information. Of course, I also understand that I will be living in a society with these people, & I want them as prepared as possible. This morning, one student (a senior in an AP Literature) asked me if Iraq was a democracy in the novel I'jaam. If you've never read it, take an hour or so to do it. It's only about 100 pages & it's incredibly beautiful. Anyway, it's set during a fictional reign of "The Leader", most likely meant to represent Saddam Hussein. After explaining that "No, the society was not a democracy", the student then said "Well, they're not communists, so what else is there?" My jaw just about dropped to the floor. Now, although I am not a Civics or Government teacher, I wasn't about to let someone drift through life thinking there were only 2 forms of government structure (mutually exclusive ones at that). So we had a conversation about it. Did I overstep my boundaries as an English teacher? Some may say yes, but I feel that it is my job to make sure each student is as prepared as possible to be an active, informed citizen of our society.
There is a substantial stream of research dating back for decades to support the assertion that the single most significant school-based factor in a child's learning is the quality of the classroom teacher. Therefore, the role of a teacher in the education of a student and the building of his character is significant, second perhaps only to the parents in the case of an elementary schooler.
The responsibility of a teacher is to leave each and every student that s/he comes into contact with changed in a positive way. We do this by truly caring for them even when they appear to not want that care. We do this by modeling the behaviors and attitudes we want our students to learn. We do this be recognizing that that hard nut, pain in the butt student who acts like he or she doesn’t care--deep down inside does. There is simply something interfering. Each and every one of our kids started life out with joy and curiosity and purity. Somewhere along the way, life changes them, and while we cannot save them all--it is our duty to try and not write off any student as hopeless.
I completely agree with the other posts. If a teacher thinks that character education or the teacher's simply delivering speeches about character and morality will help develop a student morally and academically, he or she is naive. Students observe and make judgments about almost everything a teacher does in addition to what she says--this includes stories teachers tell about their college days, their weekends, etc. Of course, this is a weighty responsibility for teachers, but when so many of our students come to school from homes where they are left to fend for themselves developmentally and emotionally, it is a responsibility that teachers must be aware of and should constantly consider.
It is possible to encourage respect in a student and to motivate that student to learn even when his/her parents might not respect a teacher, etc. Granted, we won't reach every student, but I have found that if I consistently try to be fair in dealing with students and to think of what my students truly need to learn, then more students than not respect me.
The role of the teacher in character building of students is to model the appropriate charater traits themselves. I have been in districts that have Character Education Programs with a character word of the month, however the students get very little out of learning the definition of a word without seeing it modeled by the adults.
I do not believe that it is possible for teachers to motivate every student. I do not believe it is even possible for teachers to motivate very many students at all.
I think a teacher has the following roles: 1) present the material in as interesting a way as possible; 2) show the students that you care about them as learners and as people.
You can't (generally) teach them character and you can't motivate them externally. All you can do is model character and enthusiasm and caring. They will either accept it or not.
The responsibility of teachers is not just to teach. The core of the responsibility of a teacher is to help student to learn and grow. A student is not expected to understand the need or value of what is being taught till he has learnt it. Unfortunately, when it a student does not know the value or utility of what is being taught, it is quite natural for motivation to learn being quite low. Thus it is the responsibility of teacher to not just teach, but also make the student motivated to learn what is being taught. This principle holds true for education in the prescribed academic subjects as well as more general areas like character building.
Teachers today have a much larger role than just educating students. We are sometimes parent, nurse, social worker or counselor. Children face many more problems in the world than just trying to learn. They are coming to school tired, hungry, dirty and wounded. Emotionally wounded from either the parenting or lack of parenting they receive before coming to school. School used to be a place to learn reading, writing and arithmetic and now it is a place to learn values formerly taught at home. Now we must teach honesty, empathy, responsibility and respect. When I was a child, teachers were held in near reverence. Now we are merely glorified babysitters. Parents will argue with teachers in front of their children, not exactly the best lesson in respect. Some students come to school only when they have nothing better to do.
Books have been written about this very topic. Nowadays, the teacher is seen more of as an educator and less a content deliverer. That is, the role of the teacher is to improve the student, not just in the course they have with the student.