In education, a teacher is one who helps students or pupils, often in a school, as well as in a family, religious or community setting. A teacher is an acknowledged guide or helper in processes of learning. A teacher's role may vary between cultures. Academic subjects are emphasized in many societies, but a teacher's duties may include instruction in craftsmanship or vocational training, spirituality, civics, community roles, or life skills. In modern schools and most Contemporary occidental societies, where scientific pedagogy is practiced, the teacher is defined as a specialized profession on the same level as many other professions.
In education, teachers facilitate student learning, often in a school or academy or perhaps in another environment such as outdoors. A teacher who teaches on an individual basis may be described as a tutor.
The objective is typically accomplished through either an informal or formal approach to learning, including a course of study and lesson plan that teaches skills, knowledge and/or thinking skills. Different ways to teach are often referred to as pedagogy. When deciding what teaching method to use teachers consider students' background knowledge, environment, and their learning goals as well as standardized curricula as determined by the relevant authority. The teacher should also be able to deal with students with different abilities and should also be able to deal with learning disabilities. Many times, teachers assist in learning outside of the classroom by accompanying students on field trips. The increasing use of technology, specifically the rise of the internet over the past decade has begun to shape the way teachers approach their role in the classroom.
The objective is typically a course of study, lesson plan, or a practical skill, including learning and thinking skills. The different ways to teach are often referred to as the teacher's pedagogy. When deciding what teaching method to use, a teacher will need to consider students' background knowledge, environment, and their learning objectives. A teacher may follow standardized curricula as determined by the relevant authority. The teacher may interact with students of different ages, from infants to adults, students with different abilities and students with learning disabilities.
This is true throughout most of the United States as well. However, alternative approaches for primary education do exist. One of these, sometimes referred to as a "platoon" system, involves placing a group of students together in one class that moves from one specialist to another for every subject. The advantage here is that students learn from teachers who specialize in one subject and who tend to be more knowledgeable in that one area than a teacher who teaches many subjects. Students still derive a strong sense of security by staying with the same group of peers for all classes.
Co-teaching has also become a new trend amongst educational institutions. Co-teaching is defined as two or more teachers working harmoniously to fulfill the needs of every student in the classroom. Co-teaching focuses the student on learning by providing a social networking support that allows them to reach their full cognitive potential. Co-teachers work in sync with one another to create a climate of learning.
Teaching may be carried out informally, within the family (see Homeschooling) or the wider community. Formal teaching may be carried out by paid professionals. Such professionals enjoy a status in some societies on a par with physicians, lawyers, engineers, and accountants (Chartered or CPA).
A teacher's professional duties may extend beyond formal teaching. Outside of the classroom teachers may accompany students on field trips, supervise study halls, help with the organization of school functions, and serve as supervisors for extracurricular activities. In some education systems, teachers may have responsibility for student discipline.
Around the world teachers are often required to obtain specialized education and professional licensure. The teaching profession is regarded for having a body of specialised professional knowledge, codes of ethics and internal monitoring.
There are a variety of bodies designed to instill, preserve and update the knowledge and professional standing of teachers. Around the world many governments operate teacher's colleges, which are generally established to serve and protect the public interest through certifying, governing and enforcing the standards of practice for the teaching profession.
The functions of the teacher's colleges may include setting out clear standards of practice, providing for the ongoing education of teachers, investigating complaints involving members, conducting hearings into allegations of professional misconduct and taking appropriate disciplinary action and accrediting teacher education programs. In many situations teachers in publicly funded schools must be members in good standing with the college, and private schools may also require their teachers to be college members. In other areas these roles may belong to the State Board of Education, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the State Education Agency or other governmental bodies. In still other areas Teaching Unions may be responsible for some or all of these duties.
Nursery, Primary and Secondary School teachers ranged from £20,133 to £41,004 in September 2007, although some salaries can go much higher depending on experience. Preschool teachers may earn £20,980 annually. State school teachers must have at least a bachelor's degree, complete an approved teacher education program, and be licensed.
Many counties offer alternative licensing programs to attract people into teaching, especially for hard-to-fill positions. Excellent job opportunities are expected as retirements, especially among secondary school teachers, outweigh slowing enrollment growth; opportunities will vary by geographic area and subject taught.
Salaries for primary teachers in the Republic of Ireland depend mainly on seniority (i.e. holding the position of principal, deputy principal or assistant principal), experience and qualifications. Extra pay is also given for teaching through the Irish language, in a Gaeltacht area or on an island. The basic pay for a starting teacher is €31,028 p.a., rising incrementally to €57,403 for a teacher with 25 years' service. A principal of a large school with many years' experience and several qualifications (M.A., H.Dip., etc.) could earn over €90,000.
In Scotland, anyone wishing to teach must be registered with the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS). Teaching in Scotland is an all graduate profession and the normal route for graduates wishing to teach is to complete a programme of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) at one of the seven Scottish Universities who offer these courses. Once successfully completed, 'Provisional Registration' is given by the GTCS which is raised to 'Full Registration' status after a year if there is sufficient evidence to show that the 'Standard for Full Registration' has been met.
For salary year beginning April 2008, unpromoted teachers in Scotland earned from £20,427 for a Probationer, up to £32,583 after 6 years teaching, but could then go on to earn up to £39,942 as they complete the modules to earn Chartered Teacher Status (requiring at least 6 years at up to two modules per year.) Promotion to Principal Teacher positions attracts a salary of between £34,566 and £44,616; Depute Head, and Head teachers earn from £40,290 to £78,642.
In the United States, each state determines the requirements for getting a license to teach in public schools. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are 1.4 million elementary school teachers, 600,000 middle school teachers, and 1 million secondary school teachers employed in the U.S.
US teachers are generally paid on graduated scales, with income depending on experience. Salaries vary greatly depending on state, relative cost of living, and grade taught. The median salary for all primary and secondary teachers was $46,000 in 2004, with the average entry salary for a teacher with a bachelor's degree being an estimated $32,000. Median salaries for preschool teachers, however, were less than half the national median for secondary teachers, clock in at an estimated $21,000 in 2004. For high school teachers, median salaries in 2007 ranged from $35,000 in South Dakota to $71,000 in New York, with a national median of $52,000. Some contracts may include long-term disability insurance, life insurance, emergency/personal leave and investment options. The American Federation of Teachers' teacher salary survey for the 2004-05 school year found that the average teacher salary was $47,602. In a salary survey report for K-12 teachers, elementary school teachers had the lowest median salary earning $39,259. High school teachers had the highest median salary earning $41,855.
Misconduct by teachers, especially sexual misconduct, has been getting increased scrutiny from the media and the courts. A study by the AAUW reported that 9.6% of students in the United States claim to have received unwanted sexual attention from an adult associated with education - be they a volunteer, bus driver, teacher, administrator or other adult - sometime during their educational career. A study in England showed a 0.3% prevalence of sexual abuse by any professional, a group that included priests, religious leaders, and case workers as well as teachers. It is important to note, however, that the British study referenced above is the only one of its kind and consisted of "a random ... probability sample of 2,869 young people between the ages of 18 and 24 in a computer-assisted study" and that the questions referred to "sexual abuse with a professional," not necessarily a teacher. It is therefore logical to conclude that information on the percentage of abuses by teachers in the United Kingdom is not explicitly available and therefore not necessarily reliable. The AAUW study, however, posed questions about fourteen types of sexual harassment and various degrees of frequency and included only abuses by teachers. "The sample was drawn from a list of 80,000 schools to create a stratified two-stage sample design of 2,065 8th to 11th grade students" (17). Its reliability was gauged at 95% with a 4% margin of error.
Chris Keates, the general secretary of National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said that teachers who have sex with pupils over the age of consent should not be placed on the sex offenders register and that prosecution for statutory rape "is a real anomaly in the law that we are concerned about." This has lead to outrage from child protection and parental rights groups.
In Hinduism the spiritual teacher is known as a guru. Traditionally, a spiritual seeker would revere his or her guru highly, and demonstrate utmost submission and humility through menial service in order to prove worthy to be a recipient of the knowledge the guru has attained by initiation practices. There are many sayings on the teacher like "Guru devo bhava" (Guru is God), which reflects of the esteem associated with a guru's role.
In the Latter Day Saint movement the teacher is an office in the Aaronic priesthood, while in Tibetan Buddhism the teachers of Dharma in Tibet are most commonly called a Lama. A Lama who has through phowa and siddhi consciously determined to be reborn, often many times, in order to continue their Bodhisattva vow is called a Tulku.
A Rabbi is generally regarded as the Jewish spiritual teacher.