For teachers across the world, it is difficult to ascertain whether classroom management should be kept to strict parameters of prescribed activities, or whether students should be allowed to freely express themselves and be creative, spontaneous and artistic.
Within this blog, we are going to attempt to give some guidelines on when an autocratic ‘command’ style should be used to best effect and when a more laissez- faire ‘discovery’ style is best.
Choosing a style?
There are obvious factors which should dictate what teaching style you use: time available, resources available, complexity and safety of the activity, general behaviour of the students, your aptitude to control as a teacher, student- teacher relationships and dynamics etc.
In choosing an autocratic ‘command’ style the teacher takes complete control and sets boundaries, rules and exact expectations. Activities will be prescribed with little or no discussion and students will simply do what they are told. The teacher, aka Dictator! Ensures that the students do everything they want and in the manner they expect. There are several reasons why this style of teaching may be employed:
- When time available is short, the teacher may have little alternative to cover what they need
- When there is a significant element of danger involved, the teacher will not want students to be ‘creative’. They simply want them to follow instructions.
- When the behaviour of students is poor, an autocratic style may be the only way to start to establish behavioural norms.
- When the student- teacher relationship/ dynamic is poor, teachers often employ this style to gain the students respect.
- When the student-teacher relationship/ dynamic are excellent, teachers do not need to work on building relationships with their students through encouraging creativity. They simply set tasks which are accepted immediately
- When the teacher lacks knowledge or confidence in delivering a topic, it is often best to prescribe activities
- Cognitive learners (beginners) often need to be told how to do everything as they lack the ability to be creative
- When the group has low levels of motivation, an autocratic/ command style may be needed to motivate them
Let them be free!
In choosing to use a more laissez- faire/ discovery style, teacher input to a lesson may be low. They may be looking to inspire students to discover things for themselves or be creative. Students normally get huge satisfaction when such self- discovery occurs but there are only certain classroom situations that lead to such a style being used effectively:
- Time available is likely to be in large supply. Discovering things can take a while!
- Classroom resources may be freely available to help or guide the discovery. Many of the resources available on helpmeteach will help!
- Students are often fairly well versed in the activity being done and have some experience in self- discovering
- Student behaviour is normally already good, with little or no chance of disruption occurring
- The students in question will need to be motivated and willing to self- discover
- The student – teacher relationship/ dynamic is normally excellent. The students and the teacher have established mutual respect and understanding
- The teacher is usually experienced, confident and knowledgeable and is prepared to react positively and in an informed manner to whatever may be discovered!
Try both styles out and see what works for you! We know that good teaching resources helps in both command or discovery style!!!