Can you find your teaching style from the way you do your shopping?

Just as there are different learning styles – VARK, Kolb’s (and Social interaction based (http://www.theprofessor.in/blog/teachers/understanding-the-mind/ ), there are various types of teaching styles. One of the classification is how the teacher manages the class – Authoritarian (too rigid), Authoritative (expert but flexible), Laissez-Faire (too lenient) and Indifferent. You can take a survey here http://www.pedagonet.com/quickies/yourstyle1.html

Another classification is the role a teacher plays – Authority, Motivator, Delegator and Facilitator. You can take a survey here http://longleaf.net/teachingstyle.html

These styles match in varying degrees to self-directed learners, dependent learners, involved learners and interested learners.

Why is teaching style important?

The classroom is a space shared by the teacher and students. It’s like a theatre where actors and audience share the space. And actors need to connect with their audience. But unlike theatre, teachers have to also ensure learning outcomes are achieved and they don’t just receive appreciation and applause.

If students share our personality characteristics, then they are apt to learn effectively from us. If they do not, then as teachers we might unintentionally prevent their learning. Some of the important personality characteristics which affect both students and teachers are:

  1. 1. degree of organization
  2. 2. degree of control over others
  3. 3. subjective sense of time (ability to focus on past, present, or future, which affects how well one plans ahead)
  4. 4. ability to control one’s focus (vulnerability to distractions)

I have always been showing a beautiful video called ‘Teaching Teaching – Understanding Understanding’ in my workshops in colleges. This is an award-winning DVD from the University of Aarhus, Denmark, written and directed by Claus Brabrand. (http://www.daimi.au.dk/~brabrand/short-film/)

John Biggs classified teachers as

Level 1: What the student is.

This is the horrible “blame the student” approach to teaching. I’ll keep doing what I do. If the students can’t learn then it is because they are bad students. It’s not my fault. Nothing I can do.

Level 2: What the teacher does.

This is the horrible “look at me and all the neat, innovative teaching that I’m doing”. I’m doing lots of good and difficult things in my teaching. Are the students learning?

Level 3: What the student does.

Obviously this is the good level. The focus is on teaching and leads to learning. Biggs (2001) uses a quote from Tyler (1949) to illustrate that this is not a new idea

[learning] takes place through the active behavior of the student: it is what he does that he learns, not what the teacher does.

He then talks about constructive alignment which is nothing but Outcome Based Teaching.

Here is a small 4- question analysis of what kind of teacher you may be. Take it just as fun or to give you insight into your personality.

Complete each sentence by choosing the phrase, which most accurately describes you. Then look at the answers below.

1) When shopping at the grocery store I

  1. A. shop strictly from a list
  2. B. walk the aisles in order
  3. C. walk the aisles in a non-organized fashion
  4. D. end up on some aisles more than once

2) When working with a group to complete a task, I typically

  1. A. vanish into the background
  2. B. take a leadership role
  3. C. am forceful with my opinions
  4. D. let others do the thinking

3) When under pressure to make a deadline, I would describe myself as

  1. A. cool and collected
  2. B. a stress ball
  3. C. indifferent
  4. D. annoyed

4) My maximum attention span is:

  1. A. 30 seconds
  2. B. 10 minutes
  3. C.  hour
  4. D. 3 hours

Personality Function Answers to four questions

Question 1

  1. A. you read from your notes or need a written outline from which to lecture, regardless of the audience.
  2. B. you prefer following your lecture notes in the order in which you wrote them, regardless of what is happening among the students
  3. C. you tend to digress during your lectures or get lost as to where you are in your notes.
  4. D. you can repeat yourself or that you need to return to a previous topic so as to emphasize a point.

Question 2

  1. A. you are not likely to encourage class discussion and prefer a formal lecture.
  2. B. You enjoy taking charge of a discussion, injecting comments and ideas, but fail to see the responses of the class.
  3. C. your students are relatively quiet, with only a few openly challenging your ideas, or that you don’t convey interest in their ideas.
  4. D. you become passive in guiding discussion or find yourself easily swayed by your students.

Question 3

  1. A. You probably return papers and exams promptly.
  2. B. You probably dread grading papers or exams.
  3. C. You take longer than students expect to correct exams or you fail to notice the approaching deadline.
  4. D. You may show irritation to students about returning assignments and exam papers.

Question 4

  1. A. You are vulnerable to distraction, regardless of your interest in something. This may affect how effectively you use your time to prepare lectures, to grade, to understand a question.
  2. B. You might still be vulnerable to distraction, which will affect how effectively you use your time to prepare lectures, to grade, and to understand questions.
  3. C. You might have a tenacious ability to remain focused on whatever you are doing.
  4. D. You might have a tenacious ability to remain focused on whatever you are doing.
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HOT-Higher Order Thinking

I. HOT   – Analysis, Synthesis and Evaluation

After several related methods or approaches or technologies were taught in previous classes

  1. Ask students to make compare / contrast chart for the methods – 5 min
  2. Compare their chart with their partners and see if new ideas emerge – 2 min
  3. Pose problems and ask students to name the method that must be used to solve that problem – 5 min
  4. Now ask students to create a question paper on this topic – 2 essay questions, 1 problem and 3 MCQs 10 min
  5. Let students share their QPs with partners and write the answers – 20 min
  6. Collect from students what they liked about the class and what did they learn – 2 min
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Jigsaw Reading

Jigsaw Reading in a large class– comprehension and analysis

Identify a piece of text that you need to present to the class. Convert this text into three short paragraphs and print them on separate papers (handout 1, 2, and 3)

  1. Explain the process of Jigsaw reading to the class 4 min
  2. Distribute the handouts on two benches as follows: 1 is given to two students, 2 to students and 3 to two students. Do similarly for other benches in pairs.
  3. Now the two students read and understand the handout given to them thoroughly with your help if necessary discussing among themselves.  10 min
  4. Afterwards, let the 6 students (with different handouts) form a group and explain to each other what they have understood from the handout. 15 min
  5. Give a multiple choice test on the topic – 5 min
  6. Discuss answers and in the process summarise the lesson – 5 min
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Inductive Teaching

Usually, classes are taught deductively. A theory or principle is taught and then related problems are solved.  It goes from generic to specific. Another alternative is to pose a problem and let students learn the knowledge or skills needed to solve the problem. This is going from specific to general and hence is called inductive teaching. Problem based and project based learning are advanced methodologies where entire course is taught inductively. But here is a small in-class example.

I. Inductive Teaching  - comprehension and analysis

  1. Pose a problem – a numerical problem or a scenario – 3 – 5 min (something that they have not done before or for which they don’t have full required knowledge)
  2. Ask students only to write down the steps to solve that problem or tackle the scenario – 3 min
  3. Ask students to share with their partners and see if they get some new ideas – 5 min
  4. Randomly ask some students to read out their answers and you validate them i.e., ask if their methods seem to be correct or logical -3 min
  5. Ask students to think and write down what new knowledge they need to learn in order to solve that problem-3 min
  6. Connect it with the topic of the class
  7. Teach using BB or PPT – 25 min
  8. Now let students go back to the problem and solve it, and share with partners – 5 min
  9. Check randomly if students got the solution correctly- 2min
  10. Collect informal feedback on your teaching method – 2min
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Enhanced Chalk and Talk

I. Enhanced Chalk and Talk

  1. Announce the learning outcomes with context, examples and enthusiasm – 2 min
  2. Have a dynamic introduction. For example: answers to muddiest points from previous class, or a real life example or link with previous topic – 3 min
  3. Define key concepts informally, use both positive and negative examples – 5 min
  4. Ensure you have some why, what and how type of explanations – 5 min
  5. Have a puzzle that students can quickly solve – 3 min (mind break)
  6. Give formal definitions – 5 min
  7. Develop rules or depth – 15 min
  8. Repeat key points 5  min
  9. Ask students to write summary – 2 min
  10. Randomly ask 2 students to read summary – 2 min
  11. Ask students to write down few questions that they have and collect the questions for discussions in next class – 2 min
  12. Ask students to write a few applications or interesting points about the topic or collect more information for next class. Make sure you ask students (even if there are a few) for this information in next class.

II. Chalk and Talk with What If?

  1. Announce the learning outcomes with context, examples and enthusiasm – 2 min
  2. Have a dynamic introduction. For example: answers to muddiest points from previous class, or a real life example or link with previous topic – 3 min
  3. Define key concepts informally, use both positive and negative examples – 5 min
  4. Ensure you have some why, what and how type of explanations – 5 min
  5. Develop rules or depth – 15 min
  6. Ask students to write key points – 4 min
  7. Let students talk to their partners on key points – 2 min
  8. Ask 2 students to read key points and add if they have missed anything – 3 min
  9. Ask students to write what would happen if this concept or technology or principle did not exist – 5 min
  10. Ask some students to share their answers and ask others to comment upon the answers
  11. Close the discussion with debriefing
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Video/Demo Discussion

Its quite important how you organise the learning around a video or a demo that you do. Here is a possible way.

I. Snowballing and Muddiest Point – comprehension  and application

  1. Show a video or a simulation – 5- 10 min
  2. Ask students to write the name of the technology or the principle behind the video – 1 min
  3. Students then ask their partners whether something more can be added to their answer – 1 min
  4. Students speak across their bench and find if answer can be expanded – 6-8 students – 2 min
  5. Ask some students to read out the final answers – 5 min
  6. Make your discussion around their answer – pointing out mistakes, filing gaps and adding information
  7. Ask students to write and give you what they did not understand in the class today (muddiest point)
  8. Collect this chit and discuss it in next class

II. Demo / Experiment / Discussion  – comprehension and analysis  - I

  1. Bring a working model to class. Or bring something to conduct a small experiment
  2. Ask students to guess what is the outcome of the experiment that you describe – 2 min
  3. Show the working. If it is small, allow students to handle and see. 15 min
  4. Ask students to analyse if their answers in 2 above were right or wrong. And Why? 10 min
  5. Ask students to share their thoughts with their partners – 4 min
  6. Collect from students muddiest point and discuss in next class – 2 min

III. Demo / Experiment / Discussion  – comprehension and analysis  - II

  1. Bring a working model to class. Or bring something to conduct a small experiment
  2. Ask students to choose the outcome from options (of the experiment that you describe) – 2 min
  3. Take a vote – 2 min
  4. Ask students to discuss among themselves and take a vote again – 4 min
  5. Show the working. If it is small, allow students to handle and see. 15 min
  6. Ask students to analyse if their answers in 2 above were right or wrong. And Why? 10 min
  7. Ask students to share their thoughts with their partners – 4 min
  8. Collect from students muddiest point and discuss in next class – 2 min
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Small group interactions

In our classrooms, students need to be taught interaction. Currently, very few students interact or respond on their own. These samples take students from thinking by themselves, then discussing with partners and then with bigger groups. This is an essential step to more active learning. Also, discussion is the process by which students develop clarity in thinking and expression.

I. Brainstorming / Application Names    – Comprehension

  1. Name the topic and seek answers / ideas from students – brainstorming (without rejecting any idea as wrong or irrelevant or duplicate) – 5 min
  2. Look through the list and discuss which ideas are correct and relevant- 5 min
  3. Use PPT or BB to teach class – 25 min
  4. Revisit the original brainstorming list and see whether students can explain why some ideas/ opinions were not correct or relevant – 5 min
  5. Ask students to write 2 applications of the concept or topic just studied – 2 min
  6. Students discuss with their bench mates their applications – 3 min
  7. Randomly ask some students to read out the list of their applications

II. Think-Pair-Share and one minute summary – comprehension

  1. Explain a real life example – 4 min
  2. Ask students to write the name of the technology or the principle behind the example – 1 min
  3. Students discuss with their bench mates their answers – 3 min
  4. Ask some students to read out their answer – 2 min
  5. Establish connection between example and the topic you are teaching – 2 min
  6. Teach using BB or PPT – 25 min
  7. Ask students to write a one minute summary of class – 2 min
  8. Share with their partners – 2 min
  9. Ask students to write on a small chit what they liked in the class and collect it – 2min
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Learning from Labs

I. Theory-Lab Connection – application and analysis

  1. Ask students to answer the following questions about a recently conducted experiment in the related lab – 15 min
  • What are you supposed to be learning (the concept/theorem/law/skills) through this experiment?
  • What are you expected to do (actions to be performed) during this lab experiment?
  • Are there any alternate ways to learn the same concept / law?
  • Did you get the results as expected or were there some errors? What could be the reason for these errors?
  • How can you improve the experimental set up to get better results or make it easier?
  1. Now share their answers with the partners – 5 min
  2. Students write how they will explain this experiment to a non-technical person – 10 min
  3. Randomly ask some students to read answers – 10 min
  4. Students pick their favourite experiment from lab and explain why? – 5 min
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Problem Solving Classes

I. Problem Solving Class – I (Reading and Thinking Accuracy)

  1. Ask students to read the problem aloud and write down what is needed to solve it before they start. For example ask them what data is given in the problem, what is to be found out, what are the assumptions etc. – 5 min
  2. Randomly ask students to read out their responses. – 5 min
  3. Then share their responses with group – 3 min
  4. Revise their responses after discussion – 3 min
  5. Actually solve the problem now – 3 min
  6. Go around the class and see if there are students working on the problem in different ways
  7. Ask 3-4 students (who have different methods) to come to the board and write the solution simultaneously by dividing the board into 3 columns. 5 min
  8. Ask students in the class to write their comments upon which method is better and why?3 min
  9. Summarise 3 min
  10. Collect informal feedback on teaching method

II. Problem Solving Class – II (Clarity in procedure)

Pick three problems to be solved – two easy and one hard and start with simple one.

  1. Make students solve the problem in pairs where one student instructs and the other follows instructions to solve the problem 5 min
  2. Now let students reflect upon whether the problem was understood clearly, whether method was correct, whether steps were logical etc – 3 min
  3. Ask randomly some students to share their thoughts – 5 min
  4. Now take the second simple problem and ask students to change roles – whoever was instructing before will now be the solver and vice versa. -5 min
  5. Repeat the sharing of thoughts- 3 min
  6. Now take the hard problem and let students solve alone.  – 5 min
  7. Check the solutions by going around and supporting where required.
  8. Ask 2-3 students to come to the board and solve the problem sequentially – first student writes some steps, then second one continues and then the last one finishes. – 5 min
  9. Summarise – 5 min
  10. Ask students to write muddiest point and give you. Discuss in next class

III. Problem Solving Class – III (Problem Recognition)

Usually in books and our teaching, problems are locally identified by topic or concept, and students never have to think about which concepts need to be applied and why they need to be used. Students often have trouble on exams because the questions usually appear randomly and are not identified by type. If this is the case, students have not developed the skills in inquiry and in identifying key issues to the level that they need for being successful on exams, in future courses, or in the real world. After several classes and different topics, pick problems that are not straight forward. Take one simple and one hard.

  1. Pose the simple problem (PPT or BB) – 5 min
  2. Ask students to first represent the problem in their own way. Examples: a sketch of the physical situation, a diagram to represent the problem, or a sketch of a graph showing how variables are related. – 5 min
  3. From these qualitative representations, ask them to identify mathematical equations that represent the features of the problem. – 3 min
  4. Finally ask them solve the problem quantitatively – 3 min
  5. Share with partners and with class (randomly) – 5 min
  6. Repeat with hard problem. Make them now work in pairs. – 10 min
  7. Let few students come to BB and solve the problem – 5 min
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Review Classes

I. Review class – 1 Comprehension and Analysis

  • Ask students to make mind maps or other related graphic organizers in their notebooks
  • Randomly ask some students to present information

II. Review class – 2  Comprehension and Analysis

If you have taught several methods / techniques for some topic, and suppose you could have a compare/ contrast matrix for these methods and you have some points under each method.

Attribute Method 1 Method 2 Method 3
1 C E G
2 D F H

Now you print such a sheet and cut each box separately.

  • Give each student the cut out pieces and ask them to rearrange in the table format. 10 min (depending on amount of text)
  • Show the correct table on the LCD and ask them to identify where they went wrong – 10 min
  • Discuss answers and summarise – 5 min

III. Review class – 3  Getting the big picture

  • Ask students to list out the important points they have learnt in the unit – 10 min
  • Let students share with partners and enhance their list – 3 min
  • Ask students to identify for their list, what connections they see with other subjects, with other units and with real life – 5 min
  • Randomly ask them to read out for a few points – 5 min
  • Let students make a list of things that they would like to learn more about and how they can do it – 5 min
  • Reflection on teaching methods and learning – 10 min

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