Different Teaching Styles and How They Affect Your Students

teaching stylesNo two teachers will teach in the same way, just as no two students learn something in the same way. A teacher’s teaching style is based on their educational philosophy, their classroom’s demographic, what subject area (or areas) they teach, and the school’s mission statement. If you are a new teacher, you might be wondering just what your teaching style is and how it could be affecting your students. It’s important to know that there are two key approaches that the other teaching theories fall into – teacher-centered and student-centered. Check the list below, and find out which teaching style best suits you.

Teacher-Centered Approach

The main focus behind the teacher-centered approach is the idea that the teacher is the main authority figure. The students are simply there to learn through lectures and direct instruction, and the focus is mainly on passing tests and assessments. A teachers’ role in this approach is to pass on the knowledge and information needed to their students. Even using this approach, you can still use technology to teach. There is only one subcategory under this approach, and that is direct instruction.

Direct Instruction

Direct instruction is used to define traditional teaching, which includes lectures and teacher-led demonstrations. The idea is that only the teacher can give students the knowledge and information they need to succeed. If this is your preferred style of teaching, you might want to consider taking a course in PowerPoint to create lectures. There are three teaching models beneath this subcategory.

  • Formal Authority

These kinds of teachers are the sole person of authority and leadership. They have more knowledge than the students and hold a higher status over their students. Classroom management is usually based on traditional methods involving teacher-designed rules and expectations.

  • Expert

The teacher described in this model is basically the know-everything in the classroom. They are there to guide and direct their students. Students are nothing more than empty vessels designed to receive the knowledge being given by the teacher.

  • Personal Model

In this method, the teacher leads by example. They show the student how to find information and how to understand it. The idea is that the students will learn by watching and copying what the teacher does exactly as the teacher does it.

Student-Centered Approach

In this approach, the teacher is still the authority figure, but the student plays an active role in what is learned. The idea is that the teacher will advise and guide the students down a learning path. Assessment involves informal and formal methods – tests, group projects, portfolios, and class participation. The teacher continues to assess a student’s learning even throughout the lesson. The students are learning the information the teacher is giving, and the teacher is learning how best to approach his students. There are two subcategories in this approach – inquiry-based learning and cooperative learning.

Inquiry-Based Learning

This teaching style focuses on letting the student explore and actively participate in learning. Rather than being a dictator, the teacher is more of a guide, giving the students advice and supporting their efforts. Students are expected to participate and play an active role in their own learning. There are three models under this subcategory.

  • Facilitator

A teacher using this model will work under an open classroom model. The idea will be to place a stronger emphasis on the teacher-student relationship by joining the student in the learning process. The students’ progress will be loosely guided, and the teacher will work on encouraging the students to be more independent, more exploratory, and involve more hands-on learning. Using this model, teachers can include less formal teaching strategies like encouraging students to be entrepreneurs.

  • Personal Model

This type of model is similar to the personal model from the direct instruction subcategory. However, these kinds of personal models are learning with the students so that they can learn to explore and experiment with new ideas. In this way, students can learn that making mistakes are part of the learning process as they watch their teacher make mistakes as well. They will, hopefully, also see that people can learn from their mistakes.

  • Delegator

A delegator has the most hands-off approach of all of the modeled teaching methods. The idea is to encourage autonomy in the student’s learning process. The teacher explains what is expected, gives them the resources needed, and spends the rest of the time acting as a resource of sorts. They will answer questions and check on progress when needed. The students are actively involved in their own learning process with no real guidance from the teacher.

Cooperative Learning

The idea behind this kind of teaching style is community. Much of the work in the classroom is group projects, and the students are responsible for their own learning and development. The theory behind this style of teaching is that students learn best when interacting with their peers. If all of the students are going to have access to technology either at home or at the school, you should consider a class in Microsoft Project so they can use it for their projects and portfolios. There are two models under this subcategory.

  • Facilitator

This model is just like the facilitator model under inquiry-based learning. The only difference is that there is a higher focus on group projects rather than individual work. The teacher still uses an open classroom, and the focus is still on increasing a students’ independence, hands-on learning, and exploration. However, instead of the student undergoing this process alone or with the teacher, he will also have a group of his peers joining him in the learning process.

  • Delegator

Like the delegator model from the inquiry-based learning subcategory, this model acts as a resource to students with a hands-off approach to the students’ learning. There is a higher focus on group projects compared to the inquiry-based learning delegator model, but overall, the same key ideas are behind both models.

One Last Note

Your teaching style says something about you. It’s based on your values toward education and the philosophy you hold about education. Knowing how your students learn can also play a key role in your teaching style. If you can discover your teaching style early on in your  career, both you and your students will be better off for it. You will know exactly what your teaching preferences are and know just how to reach your students’ learning preferences.