Jim Scrivener looks in detail at a question from Module 3 of the TKT – Managing the teaching and learning process.

Try this question

For questions 1–6, match the teacher activities with the teacher roles listed A, B or C. Mark the correct letter (A, B or C) on your answer sheet. You need to use some options more than once.

Teacher roles

A) DIAGNOSTICIAN (Finds out the needs and interests of students)
B) PLANNER (Chooses materials and/or methodology before the course or lesson)
C) MANAGER (Manages students and activities during class time)

Teacher activities

1) The teacher asks a noisy student to speak more quietly.
2) The teacher invites students to suggest topics for course content.
3) The teacher wants to identify gaps in their knowledge so she asks students to brainstorm crime vocabulary.
4) The teacher decides which coursebook activities will fit into the time available for the lesson.
5) The teacher finds a video to fit the topic of the unit.
6) The teacher gives students a questionnaire in order to find out more about their learning styles and preferences.

Question focus

This question tests your understanding of some of the different roles that a teacher can take on.

What you need to know

Teachers may take on many different roles during a working day. A teacher who is presenting a grammar point to a large class will be doing things very differently from one who is monitoring students while they do some quiet writing work, or from one in the staff room at the end of the day who is selecting material to use in next week’s classes.

There isn’t any definitive list of all the roles a teacher can take on, and you will find that different writers may call them by different names. The important thing is to understand the nature of the different roles, rather than just to know the meaning of the names. To help you, this question gives you a definition of each role name it uses.

DIAGNOSTICIAN: The first role in the question has the name of diagnostician. This name is connected to the verb diagnose which means 'to find out what problem someone has'. The verb is often used to describe one of the things that a doctor regularly does. If you go to see your doctor, they will need to diagnose what is wrong with you before they can give you advice or prescribe you any medicines. In order to diagnose your problem, the doctor will look carefully at you and think about what is wrong. Similarly, a teacher working with a class often needs to look carefully at their students and find out what they can and can’t do. This will help them to understand the needs of the students – the things that they need to study or work on in order to get better. Of course, knowing a class’s needs is not the only thing that you need to know in order to start making plans about what work you can do with them. The teacher will probably also want to take their class’s interests and their preferred ways of working into account as well.

PLANNER: The second role in the question is that of planner. This describes someone who 'chooses materials and/or methodology before the course or lesson'. In other words, the planning role comes after the diagnosing role described above – but before the actual teaching in class. You cannot plan successfully until you have looked carefully at what the students can do and made decisions about what they need to work on. Planning involves making decisions about things such as which teaching and learning materials will be most suitable to use with the class, what tasks would be best for them to do, which groupings would work best and which teaching techniques would be most effective. The teacher will make their planning decisions by thinking about what they know about the class and their needs.

MANAGER: The last role described is that of manager and this is defined as someone who 'manages students and activities during class time'. In other words, this role involves the things that a teacher does in class to organise the learners and the work that they do. Managing is making the learning happen. This means that it comes after both the diagnosing and the planning. Management activities include moving chairs, making groups, handing out worksheets, giving instructions, checking that students know what to do, dealing with discipline problems and so on. When something happens in class and the teacher has to respond to it by making a decision and giving an instruction or command, this is the role of manager.

So what are the answers?

1C; 2A; 3A; 4B; 5B; 6A.

Looking at the answers in more detail

The biggest difficulty in finding the right answers for this question will be in distinguishing between diagnostic activities and planning activities. To help you, remember that diagnosis comes before planning. The diagnosis is when you find out about the students. The planning is what you do with that information when preparing future lessons or courses.

  • Question 1 is an in-class management action.
  • Question 2 involves the teacher finding out what interests the students have.
  • Question 3 diagnoses vocabulary needs. 
  • Questions 4 and 5 are both to do with planning because they involve decisions about what to teach and which material to use.
  • Question 6 is diagnostic as it involves finding out about learner styles and preferences – which can later help the teacher plan.

What else should I study?

Remember that although there are only three roles in this question, a teacher may have many other roles as part of their work.  As I have mentioned, these roles do not have fixed names, but may include terms such as monitor, presenter, helper, explainer, corrector, evaluator.