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A teacher (also called a school teacher or, in some contexts, an educator) is a person who helps others to acquire knowledge, competences or values.

Informally the role of teacher may be taken on by anyone (e.g. when showing a colleague how to perform a specific task). In some countries, teaching young people of school age may be carried out in an informal setting, such as within the family (homeschooling), rather than in a formal setting such as a school or college. Some other professions may involve a significant amount of teaching (e.g. youth worker, pastor).

In most countries, formal teaching of students is usually carried out by paid professional teachers. This article focuses on those who are employed, as their main role, to teach others in a formal education context, such as at a school or other place of initial formal education or training.

Teachers may provide instruction in literacy and numeracy, craftsmanship or vocational training, the arts, religion, civics, community roles, or life skills.

Formal teaching tasks include preparing lessons according to agreed curricula, giving lessons, and assessing pupil progress.

A teacher's professional duties may extend beyond formal teaching. Outside of the classroom teachers may accompany students on field trips, supervise study halls, help with the organization of school functions, and serve as supervisors for extracurricular activities. In some education systems, teachers may have responsibility for student discipline.

In many countries, a person who wishes to become a teacher must first obtain specified professional qualifications or credentials from a university or college. These professional qualifications may include the study of pedagogy, the science of teaching. Teachers, like other professionals, may have to, or choose to, continue their education after they qualify, a process known as continuing professional development.

The issue of teacher qualifications is linked to the status of the profession. In some societies, teachers enjoy a status on a par with physicians, lawyers, engineers, and accountants, in others, the status of the profession is low. In the twentieth century, many intelligent women were unable to get jobs in corporations or governments so many chose teaching as a default profession. As women become more welcomed into corporations and governments today, it may be more difficult to attract qualified teachers in the future.

Teachers are often required to undergo a course of initial education at a College of Education to ensure that they possess the necessary knowledge, competences and adhere to relevant codes of ethics.

There are a variety of bodies designed to instill, preserve and update the knowledge and professional standing of teachers. Around the world many teachers' colleges exist; they may be controlled by government or by the teaching profession itself.

They are generally established to serve and protect the public interest through certifying, governing, quality controlling, and enforcing standards of practice for the teaching profession.

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