Teaching Styles & the Educational Environment
Posted on: 11/18/2008
Each instructorís approach to teaching has a significant influence on the physical makeup of the classroom. There are four basic teaching styles to consider in order to understand the impact of teaching styles on the educational environment.†
- Formal Authority: In this approach the teacher controls the flow of the lesson and the studentís role is to listen and assimilate the material. Teacher-student relationships and student-to-student relationships are not considered important.
For many of us this teaching style is embodied by the stiff, lecture-style seating which kept us static and forward-facing during our childhood school days.
- Demonstrator: Here the teacher is a demonstrator, coach and a guide to what skills and processes are expected to be learned. Student participation is encouraged and a variety of learning styles are used.
This teacherís classroom is more flexible. Tables and chairs need to be moved into different configurations, at least to offer group seating and lecture seating.
- Facilitator: A student-centered approach in which the teacher facilitates and focuses on activities. Students must show initiative in accomplishing classroom tasks. This approach requires students to be independent, active and collaborative learners. Teachers focus on group activities which stimulate active learning, student-to-student collaboration and problem solving.
A teacher using the facilitator style needs a highly malleable classroom environment. Tables and chairs should be easily moveable to create a variety of group activity layouts, such as team group environments, discussion circles and demonstration layouts. Group tables are favored over single student seating.
- Delegator: This teacher is also student-centric but in a more radical way. Here, the teacher places much of the responsibility for learning on their students, either working individually or in groups. Students design and carry out complex projects while the teacher acts in a consultative role. Students work independently or in groups. In this teaching style students must be able to effectively work in groups as well as take on a varied range of interpersonal roles.
The delegator style demands the most of the classroom just as it creates the widest range of challenges for the students and the teacher. Furniture that can be placed into many different group configurations is a necessity, but individual work, sometimes carried out simultaneously, must be accommodated too. While supervised, students control the layout of their environment to match the project. They must be able to easily move and adjust the classroom furniture on their own.
In truth, few of today's educators fall solely into one of these categories. Rather they choose from this menu of approaches to best address a learning situation. This places even more stress on the physical environment to provide the varied layouts these learning environments require. It is not an exaggeration to say the use of these teaching styles is partly enabled by a flexible, results-oriented physical classroom.
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