Those who mould us

Teachers facilitate learning and provide the tools and environment for students to understand abstract concepts, solve problems, and develop critical thought processes. Using interactive discussions and instruction, teachers help students develop skills to master subjects such as science, mathematics, and English.

Nature of the job:

Teachers must design classroom presentations and activities to meet student needs and abilities. They also plan, evaluate, and assign lessons; prepare, administer, and grade tests; listen to presentations; maintain classroom discipline; and work with students individually. They observe and evaluate student performance and potential.

Teachers also grade papers, prepare report cards, and meet with parents and school staff to discuss students’ academic progress or personal problems.

To prepare lessons, teachers may use films, slides, overhead projectors, and the latest technology, including computers, telecommunication systems, and video discs. They must be competent in the use of computer resources, such as educational software and the Internet, and continually update their skills to use the latest technology in the classroom. Teachers may also use computers to record grades and for other administrative and clerical duties.

In addition to classroom activities, teachers oversee study halls and supervise extracurricular activities. Occasionally teachers assist students in choosing courses, colleges, and careers.

Teachers also participate in education conferences and workshops. In many schools, teachers are increasingly involved in making decisions regarding the budget, personnel, textbook choices, curriculum design, and teaching methods.

Another teaching option is at the college and graduate school level.

Typically these teachers, called professors, instruct anywhere from two to five classes a week. They must be available to confer with students, help with student class scheduling, and often give individual instruction.

A teacher’s major goal, varying by class age, is preparing students for individual thinking, independent living, higher education, and the work force.

Primary education:

In the primary grades of kindergarten and elementary school, teachers introduce children to numbers, language, science, and social studies. They use games, music, artwork, films, slides, computers, and other tools to teach basic skills.

Most elementary school teachers have a classroom and instruct one class of children in several subjects. In some schools, two or more teachers work as a team and are jointly responsible for a group of students in at least one subject. Or a teacher may teach one special subject — usually music, art, reading, science, arithmetic, or physical education — to a number of classes.

Secondary education:

Secondary school teachers instruct at the middle school, or junior high, and high school levels. They delve more deeply into subjects introduced in elementary school. Secondary school teachers most often have their own classroom and specialise in a specific subject, such as English, mathematics, history, or biology. Or they teach a variety of related courses — history, contemporary problems, and world geography.

Higher education:

College professors teach several different courses in their department. They may instruct undergraduate or graduate students, or both. College and university professors may give lectures, lead small seminars, or supervise students in laboratories. In universities, they also counsel, advise, teach, and supervise graduate student teaching and research. They must be present for classes, usually 12 to 16 hours a week, for faculty and committee meetings, and have regular office hours for student consultations, usually three to six hours per week.


Kindergarten, elementary, and secondary school teaching requires a variety of skills and aptitudes, including a talent for working with children and the ability to create an effective classroom learning environment. Teachers must also possess excellent organisational, administrative, problem-solving, conflict-resolving, and record-keeping abilities. Research and communication skills are essential as this is the power to influence, motivate, and train others. Teaching also requires a high level of patience and creativity.


All the government owned schools require school teachers to be licenced, but it is not required for teachers in private schools. However, some schools do require a bachelor’s degree and completion of an approved training programme with a prescribed number of subject and education credits as well as supervised practice teaching.


The job market for teachers varies widely by geographic area and subject specialty. Many inner cities and rural areas have difficulty attracting teachers, so job prospects should continue to be better in these areas than suburban districts.