Teaching Styles

Learning styles have become discredited. But what about teaching styles? Do you think teachers have a particular style?

I think most teachers agree, we all have in some way our own unique “style”. Some of us are quiet and calm. Some of us are loud and energetic. Some of us have desks all neatly organized, clear and many of us have desks that appear chaotic, tired, as old rag and bone shops of the heart. Some of us teach from the front of the classroom and others are everywhere…………

But I think that there is a “style” that goes beyond just what you do in the classroom and more into the heart and “how” you do it. It is that quality of “grace” that we can see in some special teachers. They have “STYLE” and it isn’t important what teaching style they use but that they have this “STYLE”.

Good teachers have a presence, they have command and an authenticity. They fill up and out the room be they quiet or bold. Good teachers have “STYLE”. So what is this?


As Bukowski tries to define it (see the video poem below) — I think style is something incommunicable, something we can only be aware of. A force of life and the sum of experience, the energy of a mind that has struggled with life emanating to be felt by many ….

Still, I think we can point to a few practical things that STYLE is.

1. A love of what you are doing.

Teachers that have STYLE are THERE. Nowhere else. Not with their stock portfolios, not dreaming of the golf course, not hoping for the bell, not passing through……

2. The LOOK.

I don’t know what it is but teachers with STYLE, like Sydney Portier in “To Sir with Love” have the LOOK. They see right into you with almost super power vision. They hear what you don’t even say! They have an almost other worldly communication style.


Those are my own very “esoteric” views on what STYLE is. It can’t be bought, it can’t really even be taught (like a teaching method/style), it can only be possessed. Even failure can be a kind of “Style”.

What do you think? Do you have it? Can you get it? How? It must be important, for as Bukowski says, “STYLE is the answer to everything” and I think that is something every teacher would want!

Take the Online Quiz. Download: Your Teaching Style quiz.doc (editable) PDF Updated Version Also this worksheet is an excellent way to discover more about your teaching “self” and beliefs about education. Teaching Beliefs

Also published on Medium.


  • Philip Shigeo Brown

    In the Quiz, it would be good to be able to rank scale the answer choice (e.g. Never/Sometimes/Usually/Always) rather than be forced to select only one. For example, for the question below, I use all 4 answer choices but to varying degrees. This often depends on a number of factors including learner variables (e.g. age/maturity, expectations), course objectives, and institutional demands.

    Q) Which of the following do you like to use when evaluating student learning?
    *teacher made tests
    *student self-assessment tests
    *performance based criteria
    *problem solving and critical thinking

    • ELT Buzz

      Yes. Good point. Not always so clear or black and white. The word version can be edited. I added a cleaned up PDF copy but will think of how to make a more granular version. I’ll also add a favorite of mine – a discussion sheet with statements which teachers must affirm/deny to help unveil their educational beliefs. Very handy for trainers.

  • Thomas Zachariah

    Nice attempt. This is going to give only a general understanding of one’s teaching style. At least there could have been variations like a primary or secondary or higher secondary teacher how one would be different. I hope you can develop this into that different levels for providing more precision.

    • ELT Buzz

      I’m not sure how a teaching style differs by level but yes – one’s style can change with the types of learners one is teaching (age, level, sex) and many other factors. But really trying to get at the teacher’s “default” style – all things equal.

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