What are teaching approaches (including some examples)?

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There are myriad teaching approaches, so it is difficult—if not impossible—to determine the ideal approach to pedagogy. One way to examine this question is to consider a couple of ways that languages have been taught over the centuries and then look at a more modern alternative.

One of the oldest approaches used is the Grammar-Translation Method. This traditional way of teaching has the instructor at the center of the classroom as an authority figure. Language-learning is good mental exercise which helps develop minds. Students memorize grammar rules. Almost all the classroom interaction is from the teacher to the students.

A second and more recent way to teach languages is the Audio-Lingual Method. Learning is achieved through good habit formation and repetition. Student errors lead to bad habits, and the teacher rewards good habits by using positive reinforcement. Drills are of paramount importance. Students over-learn key concepts.

My approach to teaching could best be described as principled eclecticism. I strive to explain difficult things in a simple way. There is no holy grail of teaching: it is an art that is never completely mastered.

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There are various types of teaching approaches in education. With an emphasis on 21st century skills, teaching approaches have begun to take different shapes that cater to specific aspects of student learning. Because of the influence on 21st Century skills and technology, here are four of the most common teaching approaches: teacher- centered, student or leaner- centered, constructivists or inquiry based learning, and collaborative learning.

The most widely known teaching approach is teacher- centered. This is the "traditional" mode of education. In a traditional classroom, teachers will lecture students, maybe pose a question or two, but predominantly, students will sit and get without much interaction with what they are learning. 

What is becoming more widely known and expected is a student or learner- centered approach to teaching. In this approach, students drive the instruction, ask the questions, potentially create the models and methods of instructions, etc. This type of learning is more probably project based. Students will actively engage in the learning atmosphere, they will drive the discussions, and they will ask and answer their questions. For the best example of this type of learning, consider a classroom being taught by the students. 

Another common approach is constructivist in nature. This inquiry- based learning approach focuses on a driving question that guides the lesson and practices in the classroom. Students are asked a driving/guiding question, what they learn and how they learn it is determined by the question itself. Students will research, and gather information to inform their decisions about the process of learning. The best illustration of this approach is thinking about Design Thinking classrooms. 

Lastly, the final approach is collaborative learning. This approach marries both the student/learner- centered and inquiry based learning approaches. In the collaborative approach to education, students are placed in groups, they are given the opportunity to work together, towards a common goal, and the group's work drives the instruction. There can be some teacher- centered methods used here, but predominantly, students are given the chance to work and problem solve among themselves. For an example of this method of teaching, consider Think Tanks and how they work together to solve problems.

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