No two teachers are alike, and any teacher with classroom teaching experience will agree that their style of teaching is uniquely their own. An effective teaching style engages students in the learning process and helps them develop critical thinking skills. Traditional teaching styles have evolved with the advent of differentiated instruction, prompting teachers to adjust their styles toward students’ learning needs.
The following list of teaching styles highlights the five main strategies teachers use in the classroom, as well as the benefits and potential pitfalls of each respective teaching method.
Authority, or lecture style The authority model is teachercentered and frequently entails lengthy lecture sessions or one-way presentations. Students are expected to take notes or absorb information. • Pros: This style is acceptable for certain higher-education disciplines and auditorium settings with large groups of students. The pure lecture style is most suitable for subjects like history that necessitate memorization of key facts, dates, names, etc. • Cons: It is a questionable model for teaching children because there is little or no interaction with the teacher. Demonstrator, or coach style The demonstrator retains the formal authority role while allowing teachers to demonstrate their expertise by showing students what they need to know. • Pros: This style gives teachers opportunities to incorporate a variety of formats including lectures, multimedia presentations and demonstrations. • Cons: Although it’s well-
suited for teaching mathematics, music, physical education, arts and crafts, it is difficult to accommodate students’ individual needs in larger classrooms. Facilitator, or activity style Facilitators promote self-learning and help students develop critical thinking skills and retain knowledge that leads to self-actualization. • Pros: This style trains students to ask questions and helps develop skills to find answers and solutions through exploration; it is ideal for teaching science and similar subjects. • Cons: Challenges teacher to interact with students and prompt them toward discovery rather than lecturing facts and testing knowledge through memorization. Delegator, or group style The delegator style is best-suited for curriculum that requires lab activities, such as chemistry and biology, or subjects that warrant peer feedback, like debate and creative writing. • Pros: Guided discovery and inquiry-based learning places the teacher in an observer role that inspires students by working in tandem toward common goals. • Cons: Considered a modern style of teaching, it is sometimes criticized as newfangled and geared toward teacher as consultant rather than the traditional authority figure. Hybrid, or blended style Hybrid, or blended style, follows an integrated approach to teaching that blends the teachers’ personality and interests with students’ needs and curriculum-appropriate methods. • Pros: Achieves the inclusive approach of combining teaching style clusters and enables teachers to tailor their styles to student needs and appropriate subject matter. • Cons: Hybrid style runs the risk of trying to be too many things to all students, prompting teachers to spread themselves too thin and dilute learning. Because teachers have styles that reflect their distinct personalities and curriculum — from math and science to English and history — it’s crucial that they remain focused on their teaching objectives and avoid trying to be all things to all students. What teaching style is best for today’s students? Whether you’re a first-year teacher eager to put into practice all of the pedagogical techniques you learned in college, or a classroom veteran examining differentiated instruction and new learning methodologies, consider that not all students respond well to one particular style. Although teaching styles have been categorized into five groups, today’s ideal teaching style is not an either/or proposition but more of a hybrid approach that blends the best of everything a teacher has to offer. Here is a recap from the list of teaching methods described earlier. • Authority, or lecture style: This traditional, formal approach to teaching is sometimes referred to as “the sage on the stage.”
Demonstrator, or coach style: This style retains the formal authority role while allowing teachers to demonstrate their expertise by showing students what they need to learn. • Facilitator, or activity style: This approach encourages teachers to function as advisors who help students learn by doing. • Developer, or group style: This style allows teachers to guide students in a group setting to accomplish tasks and learn what works or doesn’t. • Hybrid, or blended style: This approach incorporates different aspects 21st-century classroom. Active vs. passive: Proponents of the traditional lecture approach believe that an overemphasis on group-oriented participatory teaching styles, like facilitator and delegator, favor gifted and competitive students over passive children with varied learning abilities, thereby exacerbating the challenges of meeting the needs of all learners.
Knowledge vs. information: Knowledge implies a complete understanding, or full comprehension, of a particular subject. A blend of teaching styles that incorporate facilitator, delegator, demonstrator, and lecturer techniques helps the broadest range of students acquire in-depth knowledge and mastery of a given subject. This stands in contrast to passive learning, which typically entails memorizing facts, or information, with the short-term objective of scoring well on tests. Interactive classrooms: Laptops and tablets, videoconferencing and podcasts in classrooms play a vital role in today’s teaching styles. With technology in mind, it is imperative that teachers assess their students’ knowledge while they are learning. The alternative is to wait for test results, only to discover knowledge gaps that should have been detected during the active learning phase. Constructivist teaching methods: Contemporary teaching styles tend to be group focused and inquiry driven. Constructivist teaching methods embrace subsets of alternative teaching styles, including modeling, coaching, and test preparation through rubrics scaffolding. All of these are designed to promote student participation and necessitate a hybrid approach to teaching. One criticism of the constructivist approach is it caters to extroverted, group-oriented students, who tend to dominate and benefit from these teaching methods more than introverts; however, this assumes introverts aren’t learning by observing. Student-centric learning does not have to come at the expense of an instructor’s preferred teaching method. However, differentiated instruction demands that teachers finesse their style to accommodate the diverse needs of 21st-century classrooms. The ‘sage on the stage’ meets the ‘tiger mom’ The objective of blending teaching styles to leverage the teacher’s strengths while meeting the demands of diverse students has become increasingly difficult, as parents take a decidedly proactive role in child-learning techniques. The traditional authoritative/expert, or “sage on the stage” lecture style, has come under attack by some parents — and contemporary educational leaders — who emphasize that a more diverse approach to teaching is necessary to engage students. This is compounded by the rise of “tiger moms,” a term made popular by parents devoted to improving the quality of education with laserprecision focus on A-list schools and a highly competitive job market. Age of the proactive parent Regardless of what style a teacher adopts, it’s important for teachers to develop positive attitudes, set goals and establish high expectations for students. “Assume students can excel!” education authors Harry and Rosemary Wong declare. As former teachers with a combined 80-plus years of educational experience, the Wongs emphasize that successful teachers share three common characteristics: • effective classroom management skills • lesson mastery • positive expectations All instructors, when developing their teaching styles, should keep in mind these three goals, as well as the primary objective of education: student learning.