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.
What are the different styles of teaching?
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.
The authority model is teacher-centered 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.
- Expert: Similar to a coach, experts share knowledge, demonstrate their expertise, advise students and provide feedback to improve understanding and promote learning.
- Formal authority: Authoritative teachers incorporate the traditional lecture format and share many of the same characteristics as experts, but with less student interaction.
- Personal model: Incorporates blended teaching styles that match the best techniques with the appropriate learning scenarios and students in an adaptive format.
- Facilitator: Designs participatory learning activities and manages classroom projects while providing information and offering feedback to facilitate critical thinking.
- Delegator: Organizes group learning, observes students, provides consultation, and promotes interaction between groups and among individuals to achieve learning objectives.
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 of the various styles and gives teachers flexibility to tailor a personal style that’s right for their coursework and students.
The traditional advice that teachers not overreach with a cluster of all-encompassing teaching styles might seem to conflict with today’s emphasis on student-centered classrooms. Theoretically, the more teachers emphasize student-centric learning the harder it is to develop a well-focused style based on their personal attributes, strengths and goals.
In short, modern methods of teaching require different types of teachers — from the analyst/organizer to the negotiator/consultant. Here are some other factors to consider as teachers determine the best teaching method for their students.
Empty vessel: Critics of the “sage on the stage” lecture style point to the “empty vessel” theory, which assumes a student’s mind is essentially empty and needs to be filled by the “expert” teacher. Critics of this traditional approach to teaching insist this teaching style is outmoded and needs to be updated for the diverse 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.
150 Teaching Methods
- Lecture by teacher (and what else can you do!)
- Class discussion conducted by teacher (and what else!)
- Recitation oral questions by teacher answered orally by students (then what!)
- Discussion groups conducted by selected student chairpersons (yes, and what else!)
- Lecture-demonstration by teacher (and then what 145 other techniques!)
- Lecture-demonstration by another instructor(s) from a special field (guest speaker)
- Presentation by a panel of instructors or students
- Presentations by student panels from the class: class invited to participate
- Student reports by individuals
- Student-group reports by committees from the class
- Debate (informal) on current issues by students from class
- Class discussions conducted by a student or student committee
- Bulletin boards
- Small groups such as task oriented, discussion, Socratic
- Choral speaking
- Textbook assignments
- Reading assignments in journals, monographs, etc.
- Reading assignments in supplementary books
- Assignment to outline portions of the textbook
- Assignment to outline certain supplementary readings
- Debates (formal)
- Crossword puzzles
- Cooking foods of places studied
- Construction of vocabulary lists
- Vocabulary drills
- Dances of places or periods studied
- Construction of summaries by students
- Dressing dolls
- Required term paper
- Panel discussion
- Biographical reports given by students
- Reports on published research studies and experiments by students
- Library research on topics or problems
- Written book reports by students
- Jigsaw puzzle maps
- Hall of Fame by topic or era (military or political leaders, heroes)
- Flannel boards
- Use of pretest
- Gaming and simulation
- Flash cards
- Maps, transparencies, globes
- Audio-tutorial lessons (individualized instruction)
- Field trips
- Drama, role playing
- Open textbook study
- Committee projects–small groups
- Murals and montages
- Class projects
- Individual projects
- Quizdown gaming
- Modeling in various media
- Pen pals
- Laboratory experiments performed by more than two students working together
- Use of dramatization, skits, plays
- Student construction of diagrams, charts, or graphs
- Making of posters by students
- Students drawing pictures or cartoons vividly portray principles or facts
- Problem solving or case studies
- Use of chalkboard by instructor as aid in teaching
- Use of diagrams, tables, graphs, and charts by instructor in teaching
- Use of exhibits and displays by instructor
- Construction of exhibits and displays by students
- Use of slides
- Use of filmstrips
- Use of motion pictures, educational films, videotapes
- Use of theater motion pictures
- Use of recordings
- Use of radio programs
- Use of television
- Role playing
- Sand tables
- School affiliations
- Verbal illustrations: use of anecdotes and parables to illustrate
- Service projects
- Stamps, coins, and other hobbies
- Use of community or local resources
- Story telling
- Tutorial: students assigned to other students for assistance, peer teaching
- Coaching: special assistance provided for students having difficulty in the course
- Oral reports
- Word association activity
- Using case studies reported in literature to illustrate psychological principles and facts
- Construction of scrapbooks
- Applying simple statistical techniques to class data
- Time lines
- “Group dynamics” techniques
- Units of instruction organized by topics
- Non directive techniques applied to the classroom
- Supervised study during class period
- Use of sociometric text to make sociometric analysis of class
- Use of technology and instructional resources
- Open textbook tests, take home tests
- Put idea into picture
- Write a caption for chart, picture, or cartoon
- Reading aloud
- Differentiated assignment and homework
- Telling about a trip
- Mock convention
- Filling out forms (income tax, checks)
- Prepare editorial for school paper
- Attend council meeting, school boar meeting
- Exchanging “things”
- Making announcements
- Taking part (community elections)
- Playing music from other countries or times
- Studying local history
- Compile list of older citizens as resource people
- Students from abroad (exchange students)
- Obtain free and low cost materials
- Collect old magazines
- Collect colored slides
- Visit an “ethnic” restaurant
- Specialize in one country
- Follow a world leader (in the media)
- Visit an employment agency
- Start a campaign
- Conduct a series
- Investigate a life
- Assist an immigrant
- Volunteer (tutoring, hospital)
- Prepare an exhibit
- Detect propaganda
- Join an organization
- Collect money for a cause
- Elect a “Hall of Fame” for males
- Elect a “Hall of Fame” for females
- Construct a salt map
- Construct a drama
- Prepare presentation for senior citizen group
- Invite senior citizen(s) to present local history to class including displaying artifacts (clothing, tools, objects, etc.)
- Prepare mock newspaper on specific topic or era
- Draw a giant map on floor of classroom
- Research local archaeological site
- Exchange program with schools from different parts of the state
- In brainstorming small group, students identify a list of techniques and strategies that best fit their class.