54: Three Teacher Roles




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3 Teacher Roles
  1. Didactic instructor:
    • lectures, direct teaches 
    • good for teaching facts, discrete knowledge, concrete self-evident information, rules, recipes, algorithms
  2. Constructivist facilitator:  
    • facilitates learners through well-defined inquiry-based experiences
    • good for teaching counterintuitive or subtle ideas and concepts, learning strategies, how to make systematic connections
  3. Performance coach:
    • leads students through guided practice and provides formative feedback
    • good for teaching foundational (enabling) skills that can be broken down into reasonable chunks
    • good for helping students refine understandings and products
Other tips:
  • Be explicit, concise and clear.   Excess talk can lead to unclear goals and explanations.
  • Distinguish between just in time and just in case.
  • Build in pre and post reflections
  • Use textbook as a resource, not as a syllabus
  • Be mindful of expert blind spot
  • Use whole-part-whole approach
    • discrete skill to complex process to discrete skill
    • content to performance to content
  • Use iterative approach that cycles between challenges, models, practice, feedback, and performance


TIMMS studies have shown that teaching styles that favor less front-loaded direct teaching and more guided inquiry tend to develop better understanding.  Using the right role for the right task can make learning more effective and engaging.  Since learning involves transfer and doing, the performance coach role is very important.


Preparation Steps
  • Examine scaffolding and assessments in project calendar and reflect on what teacher roles support different activities and learning goals
  • If needed refine scaffolding activities in order to better leverage the teacher role that is best suited to the learning goals
Early Implementation Steps
  • Apply teacher roles to activities that best suit the roles
  • Use student reflections to determine if teacher roles are helping students learn
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Make students more aware of the teacher roles and explain rationale for switching to different roles
  • Ask student to reflect on how different teacher roles are affecting their learning and to provide teacher with constructive feedback on their roles

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