Teacher? Or what..?


based on Photo by Akson on Unsplash

I have an activity in a session I run on active learning where I ask ‘what is the role of the teacher in the active classroom?’ and ask people to come up with better suggestions than ‘teacher’ to describe the role. Giving the role a name helps us to focus on the range of roles performed by the teacher or lecturer.
Barrett and Moore (2001) have a good list in their book of problem-based learning. But we always add to it. So, the first few come from them, and then the rest are other ideas that participants (I say participants, but do I mean students, or learners, or..?!) have generated:

  • Facilitator – facilitates learning – not provider of content
  • Observer – observes and listens, ready to intervene
  • Interrogator – asks probing, challenging questions
  • Quality controller – sets expectations of students to evidence their thinking
  • Connector – sets expectations of students to apply theory to practice
  • Orchestrator – ensures individuals contribute through independent study and group-based learning
  • Co-ordinator – ensures students reflect on and in their learning
  • Reviewer  – facilitates the review of learning episodes through summary discussion

Here are other suggestions:

  • agitator
  • enquirer
  • supporter
  • enabler
  • energiser
  • inspirer
  • sharer
  • nurturer
  • negotiator
  • empowerer
  • space creator
  • acknowledger
  • winkler, teaser-outer
  • innovator
  • trier
  • guide
  • medler in the middle
  • carer
  • provocateur
  • mentor
  • tutor
  • animateur
  • activator
  • scaffolder
  • guardian
  • host

Obviously, most of these suggestions are derived from verbs, nevertheless they do provide an indication of the agility needed by the active learning… teacher!


Barrett, T. & Moore, S., eds. (2011). New approaches to problem-based learning: revitalising your practice in higher education. London & New York: Routledge.

About amiddlet50

Educational developer working in academic innovation in higher education in the UK
This entry was posted in active learning, learner engagement and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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