Center for Faculty Excellence
Tips for Teaching
The Teacher as Organizer
Teaching may best be defined as the organization of learning. So the problem of successful teaching is to organize learning for authentic results. Teaching may be thought of as the establishment of a situation in which it is hoped and believed that effective learning will take place. This situation is complicated and made up of many parts.
- There must be a learner, or more usually a group of learners.
- There must be facilities; a stated place and time for meeting, and books and other printed materials for learning.
- There must be an orderly and understood procedure (routine and regular, or highly varied) for presenting, discussing and evaluating.
- There must be some way of grading so that the teacher and more importantly the pupil, will know how the learning is coming along.
- There must be an organizer who brings these parts into a whole – in other words, the teacher.
Teaching requires the organization of learning. Thus it follows that an important role of the teacher is an organizer. The task of any organizer is to enable a group and the individuals in it to function effectively together for the achievement of a common purpose. This is the role of the teacher as organizer.
Characteristics of a teacher as an organizer:
- A good organizer is not an autocrat. He or she does not make all the decisions or try to tell everybody in detail what to do and how and when to do it.
- A good organizer, however, does not simply behave like any other member of the group, without any special rights, privileges, or powers. The group needs positive leadership in order to function effectively, clarify its purpose and achieve its desired results.
- A good organizer helps the group and the individuals in it to discover, to formulate, and to clarify their own purposes. He or she will not merely tell the learners that they must learn and do this and do that.
- A good organizer delegates and distributes responsibility as widely as possible. He or she will try to educate the group to manage its own affairs just as far as it can. With an immature and inexperienced group a good organizer will function to a considerable extent as a director, because he must function this way for the class to get anywhere. As the class learns how to work together, and as individuals in it learn to steer their own course, the function of the organizer merges more and more into guidance.
- A good organizer encourages and values initiative. But the initiative is not just drifting and getting off the path. It is initiative that is always within in the framework of the purpose of the class.
- A good organizer builds on strengths rather that emphasizing weakness. He or she goes on the constant assumption that everyone is capable of some achievement, some contribution, even though that achievement may be very modest, and perhaps very different from what the organizer expected or intended.
- A good organizer fosters self-criticism and self-evaluation within the group. As leader, as director, as guide, the organizer must often take it upon himself or herself to reveal to the group where they have succeeded and where they have failed. However, he must develop the ability to hold a mirror up to the group do they can see and judge their own accomplishments and failings.
- A good organizer maintains control, because without control and as controller, and constantly strives to develop within the class its own self-control in terms of its common purpose.
These are some of the operating characteristics of any good organizer. They are the operating characteristics of a first-rate teacher. A teacher organizes learning. Thus, a teacher's work is different in many important specific and detailed respects from the work of a factory manager, the head of a business department, or the administrator of a school system. But teachers, like other organizers, work primarily with people, and their responsibility is to create situations in which people can do their best and achieve their best.