What Type of Teaching Style Is Right for You?
29th June 2018
However many years you have been teaching, different teaching styles are worth constantly reviewing.
A teacher’s job is to engage their students in the learning process. As a teacher, you probably use a mixture of teaching styles without even thinking about it.
This is because you will have your own strengths and weaknesses which often change over time and likewise, your students will all have different levels of ability and different learning styles.
What are the different types of teaching style?
The late Anthony F. Grasha, a noted professor of psychology at the University of Cincinnati, is credited with developing the five classic teaching styles:
The Demonstrator shows students what they need to know - imagine a sports coach instructing a team. This teaching style can include activities and multimedia presentations as well as demonstrations.
Benefits: With this teaching style you can include a variety of different props, activities, presentations and displays which are perfect for students with visual and auditory learning styles.
Drawbacks: It’s easier for a Demonstrator to communicate to a small group, so a larger class size means there might be some loss of attention.
Facilitators encourage self-learning and help students to develop the skills to find solutions themselves.
Benefits: This teaching style is great for getting your students to question everything and find solutions themselves through exploring. As such, this is a useful teaching style for science subjects.
Drawbacks: This can be a difficult teaching style to measure, especially if your students don’t vocalise their questions.
The Authority teaching style uses the traditional lecturing method. You give a one-way presentation and your students make notes or simply listen and absorb.
Benefits: This teaching style is used for higher education due to the size of a lecture theatre. By this stage, students should have developed the ability to take notes effectively. This style is best for subjects like history where students have to learn key dates and names.
Drawbacks: This teaching style is not suitable for younger children. Even older students might struggle stay engaged for the whole lecture!
The Delegator teaching style is a style that works in groups. This teaching style works well with subjects that naturally need some level of activity.
You delegate certain responsibilities to your students, for example you can ask your students to mark each others’ work or create peer groups to provide vocal feedback. You could also allow your students to do a group experiment in a science class while they stand by and observe.
Benefits: You can stand back and observe to gauge a better idea of what level your students are working at and where they need help.
Drawbacks: There is an argument that this style of teaching could lessen your authority.
The Hybrid is a blend of teaching styles which fits to your students’ needs and your personal skill-set and personality.
Benefits: This teaching style allows you to change your style depending on the subject and who you are teaching. This is therefore a very inclusive and adaptable style.
Drawbacks: The phrase ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ could apply if you are spreading yourself too thinly in trying to be all things to all students.
When is each type of teaching style appropriate?
Today’s classroom has evolved as our culture changes and so teaching styles have to evolve to ensure that students remain engaged with the learning process. Scientific research is making new discoveries all the time and these often change opinion on what is the best style of teaching.
Reward-based teaching styles
Teaching styles such as the Demonstrator and the Delegator can incorporate reward systems into teaching which can provide numerous benefits.
Reward systems can promote appropriate behaviour, motivate students, reinforce subject matter with competitions and ultimately lead to happier, more productive students who want to work harder.
Knowledge as opposed to information
A blend of active teaching styles can help the widest range of students gain an in-depth knowledge of a subject.
A more passive teaching style may enable students to memorise information for getting good results when tested, but they will not have a deep understanding of the subject.
A mixture of lecture and group styles
The problem with a dominance of group related teaching is that quieter members of the group are often at a disadvantage as more confident members of the group outvoice them. Likewise, too much lecturing is dull and your students will switch off.
Constructivist teaching focuses on the belief that students learn more if they are actively involved as opposed to passively learning. This can involve modelling and experimenting which is often easier in a group. The downside of this is that the more introverted students will be at a disadvantage.
Today’s classrooms have tablets, podcasts, laptops and mobile phones - all of which play an important role in teaching styles.
Technology can really help learning - for example students playing educational games on their mobiles. However, testing their knowledge becomes more important, otherwise it is hard to measure how much they are learning.
A student-centered teaching style is inclusive covering strategies that are designed to cover the individual learning needs, cultural backgrounds, aspirations and interests of your students.
Parent teaching at home
Communication with parents is vital to reinforce your teaching at home.
Many of today’s teachers are battling a high volume workload and the pressure of targets. By maintaining a good line of communication with their parents, your students can be supported in the home as well as the classroom.
Don’t assume parents have the skill to be able to do this - you will need to impart your teaching experience and styles to support them. You should be able to gauge what teaching style works best for a particular student and inform their parents about what you see working in the classroom.
How to know when the time is right to change your teaching style
The transfer of knowledge from a teacher to a student is a skill and it can be learnt. One of the first steps to engaging better with your students is to constantly review your teaching styles and develop a mix of teaching styles that get the response that you want.
You will need to be able to engage with the slower learners and the naturally quick alike. Balancing this mix of teaching styles will mean that no student is left out.