If you are a teacher, are you a facilitator?


This is generally still the first word out of teacher’s mouths when they talk about the changing nature of the role of a teacher.  I’ve always hated it, it’s as bad as…shudder…”guide on the side.”

Labeling yourself, speaking of yourself, as a facilitator weakens and devalues what a teacher is and does.  You’re a facilitator of what exactly?  You facilitate learning?

Stop it.

And don’t think I’m gonna let you off the hook by labeling yourself as a “co-learner” either.  Stand up and try that a parent openhouse…”I will be a co-learner of algebra with along with all of your kids.”


If I’m a parent (and remember, they pay your salary) I want a professional teacher.  I want you to teach my kids algebra, not facilitate it.  Do what you have to, but have enough respect for your profession to be proud that you are a teacher, and all that brings.

Don’t facilitate.  Don’t label yourself as a co-learner.  While romantic and trendy, do one thing.

Be a teacher.

Posted via web from djakes’ posterous

11 Responses to “Words Matter | Facilitate”
  1. Todd Wandio says:

    Yeah! Saying I’m a facilitator is like a student with ADHD saying he has a little difficulty attending. That is only part of the package. Of course that student can not be categorized by one or two behaviors. Students, and teachers, are so much more than one limited role or characterization. Thanks for putting things into perspective.

  2. I struggle with this one only because what the term “teacher” embodies is largely obsolete. Most teachers who teach in the conventional sense do not really reach all or arguably even most kids. The terms “facilitator” and “co-learner” are weak sauce and do not pay our profession justice. It would be more useful if we could change the definition of teacher from one who “teaches” (implying the imparting or passing down of knowledge) to one who ensures all students learn. Changing a definition is harder than just using different terminology though. I prefer to think of good teachers as “lead learners” but that term is even weaker than the others mentioned when it comes to selling it to stakeholders. “Learning Coach” is better and embodies more of what I think we want teachers to be but it still doesn’t carry the weight of “teacher.”

  3. Forgot to click “Notify me of followup comments” on that last comment.

  4. Cory Plough says:

    As you know, the terms facilitator and teacher are almost just metaphors now. At least they are in our world of PLN’s, education reform, and 21st century learning. The term “Teacher” symbolizes top down, sole provider of information, student is passive while the teachers know all the answers and are the only ones who can give any insight. The term “facilitator” represents a willingness to accept that students access information from multiple places (or can), that the leader in the classroom is willing to share in a dialogue rather than the famous monolectures, and that there is a slight willingness to be more open to your student’s contributions in the class. If I keep in mind the fact that the terms are symbols in our conversations, then I can accept them. However, not one of my students calls me a facilitator. They all expect me to teach them.

  5. Unfortunately, the word “facilitator” has been taken. It is being used to describe the adult that supervises students working their way through packaged “online” courses. Packaged online courses are frequently advertised as “self-paced” or “facilitated.”

    Anyone who believes that 21st Century learning involves a much more broad definition of “online,” and a much more dynamic role for the teacher in designing learning activities and environments, guiding group interactions and responding to individual learners, who believes technology doesn’t replace the need for human guidance, probably needs to use a different word. Otherwise we risk an important miscommunication about how our role is changing.

    “Teacher” may imply top-down but facilitator underestimates the role, given the other common usage. Co-learner, partly. Coach, maybe. Mentor? Educationalist? Project Manager? Pedagogy Specialist? Leader? Genius? Artist? I think I’d rather just stick with “teacher” for now and hope it’s definition evolves.

  6. There is no one role for the teacher. When people say facilitator for teachers its because mostly teachers don’t know how to facilitate a group of learners and stand back. Teachers have 20+ different roles. They need to learn the facilitator one better…..thats all.

  7. I’ve long despised mechanistic reactionary terms, like facilitator. They are deeply rooted in educator insecurity and the “schools should be like businesses” crapola.

    Medicine has changed countless times over the centuries, but the practitioners are still called, “doctors.” They don’t change title every time a new version of Plurk comes out or a politician says something dopey.

  8. DSJ says:

    @gary. well said.

  9. Thank you. I have been a teacher for 14 years and have always been proud of calling myself a teacher. Much of the negative connotations we give that word now aren’t from outside sources but from other teachers who are eager to point out that they are modern. Yes, I am a co-learner. Yes, I am a facilitator. I am also a mediator, a media advisor, a counselor and disciplinarian. But I wouldn’t call myself any of those those things either. I am a teacher. The rest is just a list of skills you need to be good at it.

  10. jennifer70 says:

    Facilitator?This is generally still the first word out of teacher

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