It's such a loose term, isn't it?
It is generally equally applicable to that fellow during his first week (walking into class with a vaguely terrified look as he clutches his coursebook and a bundle of supplements he managed to download from the Internet a couple of minutes before class) and that calm, assured and relaxed looking lady gliding into her classroom for perhaps the seven hundredth time, armed with nothing more than a marker pen (which may or may not even end up coming out of her pocket).
I find the term too loose, in all honesty. And I don't particularly enjoy entertaining (usually highly subjective) distinctions such as 'good' teacher and 'bad' teacher, either.
Looking back over my own years as a teacher, I can identify three general types (and in my case I like to think of them as stages) of teacher that I more or less could have been categorised as. I won't invoke ire here and claim these generalisations apply to all language teachers in all contexts, but I could confidently say they did describe me pretty well at different times over the past decade or so.
1. Language Assistant
2. Language Instructor
3. Language Educator
I'm not sure it's necessary to describe or document these types/stages just now. I'm interested in hearing how well you feel these descriptions might fit your own experiences and development.
Beyond that, one of the reasons I posted this was because of some thinking I've been doing about the relative scarcity of the 'Language Educator' in actual classrooms these days. Supply and demand issues aside, why is our 'profession' so predisposed towards having more in the way of 'Language Assistants' and 'Language Instructors' doing the actual teaching?
Where are all the Language Educators?
They're about, I assure you. Just rarely visible in a classroom.
It's a question that isn't as easy to answer as it might first seem.
But somewhere within that answer is a (not necessarily the) missing key when it comes to improving the overall quality and effectiveness of classroom-based language teaching.
In the meantime, I guess we (as an 'industry') will just continue to call anyone standing up at the front of the class for a lesson the teacher.
If nothing else, it will help keep things ticking over. Right?