Teaching or Facilitating: That’s the Question


This morning my Assistant Principal come in and observed me as part of the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES Rubric).  He sat in my room for close to an hour. He saw my teaching style, and what my students were doing. He observed the classroom environment, and how I interact with students.  Some of you are probably familiar with this because many other states are doing something similar in teacher evaluations.

After the evaluation, he and I began a short conversation about the differences between teaching and facilitating. He noticed that I stayed more in the role of facilitator with my gifted students than lead teacher. I have found that my gifted students achieve more when I help to lead them down the road to success than when I drag them. This isn’t to say I just give them free rein on their assignments. Some need more one on one time with me than others. Some students are very goal oriented which leads to a great work ethic. Some are easily distracted. Those students I work more closely with.

tfs wordle

I feel that it is my job to ask questions. Some are leading questions, but most are open-ended questions where they will need to explain to me the reasoning being their actions or processes of their assignment.

Let me show you the differences in teaching and facilitating.

Teaching: The process where the teacher leads a group of students in acquiring new skills and/or knowledge. Did you see it there? The teacher leads. Teaching is where the teacher is in control of the one-way flow of information. Many teachers including my self had relied on this method. It’s very traditional. At times, this method is necessary, but it should not be the only method you use when teaching.

Facilitating: The process where the teacher helps a group of students learn together in acquiring new skills and/or knowledge. Did you see it there? The teacher helps. Facilitating the binary flow of information. Facilitating isn’t one way flow of learning. . It flows back and forth. Instead of using one mind, you collectively use all minds in learning.

When you really delve into the teaching verses facilitating paradigm you really have to look at who is at the center of your class. If you are a teacher in the teaching paradigm, then you are the center of your classroom. Everything should revolve around you. If you are a teacher in the facilitating paradigm them the students are the center of your classroom. Everything should revolve around them. (Here is a chart of what I mean.)

One of the main differences in teaching and facilitating that I believe is the most important is the role of the students. In teaching the role of the students is to sit and listen. They are the passive, and not part of the learning process. When a teacher is facilitating the role of the students is to be actively engaged. They are part of the learning process.

How do you move from teaching to facilitating? You have to let go. You have to change your thinking from being the focus to your students being the focus. You have to sharpen your questioning skills. You have to allow students to use their prior knowledge they learned, and show them how to apply it to whatever you are doing in your classroom. Remember facilitators teach. They just do it in a way that involves the students allowing them to be creative. By allowing your students to be creative allows you to just as creative, and it makes your class so much more enjoyable.

So the question is: are you stuck in the teaching paradigm or are you a facilitator? Are you transitioning from one to another? Let me know what your expereinces are.

(The Wordle is the text of this post.)
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4 thoughts on “Teaching or Facilitating: That’s the Question

  1. Wade Welch

    Great description of the two approaches. After moving from the general ed classroom to the gifted room, this has been one of the biggest hurdles to clear.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Creativity is not about Paintbrushes and Poems | Ramblings of a Gifted Teacher

  3. Pingback: Bottoming Out | Ramblings of a Gifted Teacher

  4. Max

    I was very happy to discover this page. I need to to thank you for ones time for this wonderful read!! I definitely enjoyed every part of it and i also have you saved as a favorite to look at new stuff on your site.

    Reply

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