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Teaching styles are how teachers manage their classrooms and deliver content.

Teaching methods depend on the teacher’s preference, the student’s needs, and the subject.

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Teaching styles and methods

Teachers become familiar with various teaching methods and styles during their training and qualification period. After using these methods in real-life classroom scenarios, teachers can determine which methods best suit their personality and delivery style.

Although teachers may prefer to deliver content in a specific style and via a particular method, their extensive training ensures they can adopt a wide range of teaching methods and adapt their style when necessary. For example, specific classes or groups of students may respond better to alternative methods, while some subjects may be more suited to a particular teaching style.

In basic terms, teaching methods can be divided into four categories with two main variables:

  • Teacher or student-centered
  • Low-tech or high tech

Using these two principles, four different teaching methods can be extracted, such as:

  • Teacher-centered, high-tech approach
  • The teacher-centered, low-tech approach
  • Student-centered, high-tech approach
  • The student-centered, low-tech approach

Of course, there are various examples of teaching methods within these four groups. With numerous low-tech and high-tech options to deliver content to the classroom, for example, teachers can adopt endless teaching styles, regardless of whether they’re taking a teacher-centered or student-centered approach.

Teacher-centered learning

Teacher-centered methods may be seen as a more traditional form of teaching, with the students receiving information from the teacher via lectures. Students may sit silently at desks throughout the lesson and passively take in the material which is recited and explained by the teacher.

This approach to teaching doesn’t require ongoing assessment. Instead, students are assessed at the culmination of a topic or the end of the school year, and quantitative data is used to determine how well they have performed.

Student-centered learning

Educators remain in authority even when a student-centered approach is taken, but students are encouraged to take an active role in the classroom. Teachers use this teaching method to effectively coach their students and facilitate learning through various means. Rather than simply delivering the content directly to students, teachers may set group tasks, student assignments, research exercises, and practical experiments so that students can actively learn.

To assess students, teachers will conduct a series of informal assessments throughout the school year and incorporate more formal tests into the curriculum. Educators may assess students while working in a group, for example, to determine how well they understand and retain the relevant information.

High tech learning

Technological advancements have brought new teaching methods to the fore, and many teachers prefer to use a range of high-tech equipment in the classroom. As the internet provides students with unlimited knowledge, it can be useful for teachers to provide supervised internet access in class. In addition, high-tech learning methods can bridge the gap between the classroom setting and the student’s home with online school portals and online homework assignments.

In a high-tech learning environment, students may use any or all of the following:

  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • Collaboration apps
  • Education-based networks to connect with students around the world
  • Software designed to facilitate gamification learning

A high-tech approach to learning can also be extremely beneficial for teachers and students with disabilities. There are a variety of apps that assist individuals with disabilities, and this type of technology can make it easier for educators and students to navigate the school environment. A student with sight issues may alter the size of fonts using a tablet, for example, as this could enable him or her to read assignments and course materials. Alternatively, a text-to-speech reader and voice typing apps can be used to complete assignments and tests.

Low tech learning

Although technology can enhance the classroom environment, some teachers prefer low-tech teaching methods. By keeping classes low-tech, students cannot access modern shortcuts, such as spellcheck, calculators, and autocorrect options. This can improve a student’s reading, writing, and mathematical skills are they are forced to work out these issues without being answered by a tablet or computer.

In addition, some teachers prefer to communicate with students directly, and some subjects are best delivered in this way. When students have access to a range of technology, they may become distracted, and communication with the teacher may be affected. By opting for low-tech teaching methods, teachers can ensure students stay on task more easily.

Another benefit of low-tech learning is incorporating learning by ‘doing’. This is great for kinesthetic learners, who retain information more easily when moving. Experiments, research activities, and performances all facilitate this learning environment and don’t require high-tech options. Furthermore, there are some subjects in which virtual learning isn’t effective. If students need to carry out ‘hands-on’ tasks, there is no substitute for the low options computers can’t provide.

Teacher vs. tech learning

There are various options available within the subdivisions of teacher/student-centered learning and high or low-tech learning. Teachers who implement student-centered, low-tech learning aren’t stuck with one teaching style, for example. Each subdivision offers a variety of teaching options, such as:

Teacher-centered & low-tech learning

  • Kinesthetic learning
  • Direct instruction

Teacher-centered & high-tech learning

  • Flipped classroom
  • Online instruction and lecture delivery

Student-centered & low-tech learning

  • Learning by doing
  • Differentiated instruction to suit varying needs

Student-centered & high-tech learning

  • Game-based learning
  • Personalized learning options
  • Inquiry-based discovery

With so many options to choose from, educators can adopt different teaching methods depending on what they’re most comfortable with, what facilities are available to them, the content they’re currently teaching, and the response from students. By assessing these factors and keeping an open mind, teachers can deliver content innovatively and effectively.

Teacher-centered style and methods

Direct & low tech

Direct instruction is the primary teaching style in teacher-centered approaches and mirrors traditional teaching methods. When students are taught this way, they learn passively and absorb the information they need by listening and/or watching the teacher.

When delivering content via direct instruction, teachers may take on the following roles:

Personal Model

Using this approach, educators teach pupils by example. They may demonstrate how to perform tasks, access information, and understand subject content. Students are then expected to digest the material by watching and copying the teacher’s behavior.

Teacher-centered options allow teachers to plan intricate lesson plans and ensure every minute of classroom time is accounted for. Students are not encouraged or permitted to take an active role, which enables teachers to determine exactly how lesson time will be spent.

Often, this type of teaching method is considered to be low-tech. When using direct instruction, teachers impart their knowledge to the students so students do not need to use high-tech equipment, such as laptops or tablets.

Formal Authority

Educators are in a position of authority due to their status and knowledge. This exemplifies traditional styles of teaching most accurately. Students are expected to conform to the classroom rules and take a passive role in the learning process.

Expert

Due to their advanced knowledge, teachers are seen as experts and tasked with teaching the lesson content to their pupils. Students are routinely described as ‘empty vessels’ when this approach is taken, as they are ‘filled’ with knowledge by sitting and absorbing the information given.

Kinesthetic & low tech

When students learn kinesthetically, they absorb information by creating, doing, or making things. Based on tactile learning, students may perform a series of tasks to better understand a particular topic. Teachers may set base tasks on the following when implementing a kinesthetic learning plan:

  • Games
  • Role-playing
  • Experiments
  • Drama
  • Modeling
  • Building
  • Sports

As kinesthetic learning requires creativity and movement, it is typically low-tech. Depending on how it’s employed, kinesthetic learning can lean towards either a student or teacher-centered approach, although students take an active role in each lesson. Although kinesthetic learning options can be cost-effective for schools, they aren’t often used in isolation. However, when used in conjunction with other teaching methods, kinesthetic learning programs can benefit students and teachers alike.

Flip classroom & high tech

The flipped classroom is a relatively new phenomenon that has become increasingly popular recently. Despite being a teacher-centered form of instruction, it incorporates various technologies and is considered a high-tech teaching model.

Traditionally, students are taught information in class and complete related homework outside school. However, when the classroom is ‘flipped,’ this process is reversed. Pupils have access to lectures or direct instruction via online videos and then complete assignments in class based on the information they have already received.

Some educators record their videos and upload them to a school portal so students can access them. In contrast, others rely on pre-made videos which are already available online. As a high-tech option, the flipped classroom model’s success depends on whether all participants can access a reliable internet connection.

Although the flipped classroom is a teacher-centered approach, it does allow for greater student input. Educators may allow students to work through content at their own pace, for example, or they may try and keep the whole class at the same level.

Students-centered style and methods

Inquiry-based & high tech

An inquiry-based learning method encourages students to examine the world around them and to question the content they’re taught, the context in which it applies, and its importance in real-life scenarios. While the teacher maintains control of the classroom, they are not seen simply as an authority figure. Instead, teachers may take on the following roles when using inquiry-based learning techniques:

Personal Model

By being a personal model, the teacher is effectively a role model for his or her students. By showing students how to access content and critique materials, students will learn how to do this for themselves.

Facilitator

When educators act as a facilitator, there is an opportunity for a strong teacher-student relationship to develop. Rather than delivering a set of rigid instructions, students and teachers approach the learning process as a team. While the teacher may provide loose guidelines and have lesson aims, they encourage pupils to learn independently and explore topics via hands-on learning techniques.

Delegator

This role allows teachers to take a passive role in the classroom and allows students to take independent learning to a new level. Although teachers are present and act as a resource, they respond to queries from students and encourage them to engage fully in the learning process.

This approach is student-centered, with students actively participating in inquiry-based learning techniques. However, teachers can take an active role as and when it’s needed. This flexibility is beneficial if individuals go off track or need further assistance. In general, however, students relish the autonomy provided to them via inquiry-based learning and quickly learn to think critically about the subjects they’re studying.

Differentiated & low tech

Originally used to ensure children with special needs were receiving effective instructions in the classroom, differentiated instruction has since been adapted to cater to all types of learners. When using differentiated instruction, teachers vary their content delivery to the needs of individual students.

With average classroom sizes of 25-30 students, it’s not uncommon for individual pupils to have varying needs and achieve differing grades. By changing the tasks students undertake and offering a variety of ways to access materials, teachers can ensure that all students can flourish.

Differentiated instruction can incorporate laptops, tablets, and other technologies, but it doesn’t have to. Hence it’s a low-tech designation. Having been in use since the 1970s, differentiated instruction does not require any specific technologies and can be delivered in any classroom setting.

Personalized & high tech

One of the newest teaching methods, personalized learning, gives students control over their education and learning experience. Teachers work by student preferences, and pupils are encouraged to study subjects that interest them. Giving students a choice over the curriculum and allowing them to direct the learning process encourages pupils to be fully engaged and allows them to tailor their education to their strengths and interests.

Self-directed or personalized learning also offers a variety of assessment methods, so students aren’t stuck in the cycle of taking end-of-term or end-of-year tests. Instead, teachers assess pupils via competency-based criteria. This works well if individuals in the class are at different stages and ensures pupils can progress at their own pace, regardless of whether this means spending a little extra on one topic or moving on to advanced-level study.

When practicing personalized learning, students can use a range of technological equipment, but technology can help make personalized learning effective. Although this model is student-centered, teachers must liaise with students, provide support when needed, and help students modify their learning plans throughout the year. Collaborative software and internet connectivity help to make this a realistic objective and ensure teachers can support a whole class or grade of students.

Expeditionary learning & high tech

This form of project-based learning teaches students by accompanying them on expeditions and outdoor pursuits. Typically, students use this type of learning when focusing on topics and subjects that impact their school environment or their own communities.

Although expeditionary learning requires students to carry out tasks and partake in expeditions, technology renders this teaching method high-tech. When recording expedition data, for example, collaborative software allows pupils to collate and share their data. Furthermore, virtual expeditions may be used when funds or time are limited and real-life expeditions aren’t viable.

While various forms of technology can enhance the expeditionary learning method, the main premise of this teaching method is to expose students to real-life examples of the subjects they’re studying. Suppose students are assessing the environmental impact of discarded plastic, for example. In that case, they may go out into the community to determine whether the issue has a local effect, why it’s harmful, and what action can be taken to minimize the harm caused.

Game-based & high tech

Game-based learning incorporates many features from video games and mimics the gaming environment students are used to. For example, students may undertake game-based quests or challenges and be asked to respond to particular virtual scenarios. When successful, pupils are rewarded via virtual points and badges and can progress.

Game-based learning isn’t assessed by giving students grades or formal assessments. Instead, teachers focus on the student’s participation, understanding, and progress throughout the learning program.

Although game-based learning is student-centered in that it allows students to work through topics at their speed, it requires a lot of effective input from teachers. Teachers may need to develop their games, challenges, and quests for students to access them, for example. Due to this intensive requirement, game-based learning has been limited to a relatively small number of classes and schools. However, the availability of commercial software to assist in game development means more and more schools are incorporating game-based learning techniques.

With so many teaching methods to try, educators should spend time deciding which options are most suited to their personality and teaching style. In all cases, teachers should ensure that all students are catered to and that their chosen teaching method enables them to communicate with each student effectively.

While some teachers prefer to stick to one teaching method when possible, using a combination of teaching styles can help to provide the best education for students. Certain subjects, grades, or groups of students may respond well to high-tech learning, for example, whereas others may flourish in a more relaxed, low-tech environment. By adapting their teaching methods, teachers can find innovative ways to deliver content to students and ensure their pupils can understand and apply the material in a way that is meaningful to them.