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Teaching style defines the behaviors or actions teachers exhibit in the teaching process.

Moreover, it reflects the beliefs and values teachers hold about the role of the teacher
and the learner in the learning exchange (Heimlich & Norland, 2002). Teaching style is
not only the teaching method itself but something larger that relates to the entire teaching-
learning exchange, regardless of the environment or content of teaching (Heimlich &
Norland, 2002).

The relationship between teaching styles and early school leaving (ESL) has not been
directly studied. But there is varying evidence that teachers’ teaching style affects certain
factors such as self-efficacy, academic self-image, school-related attitudes,
achievements, engagement in school (e.g. Walker, 2009; Wentzel, 2002) that have been
shown to be important predictors of ESL (Lan & Lanthier, 2003). Different studies that
analysed teaching styles through the framework of parenting styles indicate that teachers’
characteristics, similar to parenting behaviours characterised as authoritative (warm and
supportive of autonomy as opposed to controlling), were found to be positively related to
student motivation and feelings of academic competence (e.g. Moos, 1978; Ryan, Stiller,
& Lynch, 1994; Wentzel, 1997). In addition, some characteristics of the authoritative
teaching style (such as warmth, openness, support, supervision etc.) have been shown
to help students at risk for ESL stay more engaged in school and thus be less prone to
dropping out (Fallu & Janosz, 2003; Crosnoe, Kirkpatrick Johnson, & Elder, 2004; Murray
& Malgrem, 2005).

There is empirical evidence that a teacher’s teaching style significantly affects the
different outcomes of the teaching-learning process in school. What is important for
teachers to realise is that their teaching style influences students’ perception of school
and school work. The development of a teaching style is an ongoing process based on
teachers’ professional growth and students’ characteristics. It is the teacher’s
responsibility to recurrently analyse their teaching style, reflect on it and implement
necessary changes. Constant reflection on one’s own teaching practices, classroom
activities and problem-solving approaches in the classroom are the basic teaching style
monitoring approaches.
Within education, teachers and students regularly complain about each other and
experience minor or major conflicts, in which they blame the other educational partner while
expecting more thoughtful and respectful behaviour. Most of us remember such situations from
our personal experiences as students or teachers, which – in many cases - were the result of
discipline problems in the classroom. Undoubtedly, teacher-student interactions play a critically
important role in these situations.
Interest in the teacher-student interpersonal relationship has a longstanding tradition in
European and American education research. In the Netherlands, for example, a long term
research programme called “Education for Teachers” (Wubbels, Créton, Brekelmans &
Hooymayers, 1987) at Utrecht University started in 1970 and since then it has proved to be a
valuable addition to the domain of learning environments research (Fraser, 1998). One important
starting point for this programme was the Model for Interpersonal Teacher Behaviour (MITB)
(Wubbels, Brekelmans, den Brok & van Tartwijk, 2006). The Model for Interpersonal Teacher
Behaviour (MITB), is an adaptation from the model for interpersonal diagnosis of personality of
Timothy Leary (Leary, 1957), a clinical psychologist. Leary stated that when two people interact,
their behaviour can be described along two dimensions - a Dominance/Submission dimension
and an Affection/Hostility dimension.
In the MITB, the interpersonal behaviour of a teacher is described in two dimensions - a
Dominance/Submission (Influence) dimension and a Cooperation/Opposition (Proximity)
dimension. The two dimensions can be depicted in a two-dimensional plane, that can be further
subdivided into eight categories or sectors of behaviour (see Figure 1): Leadership (DC),
Helpful/Friendly (CD), Understanding (CS), Student Freedom (SC), Uncertain (SO), Dissatisfied
(OS), Admonishing (OD) and Strictness (DO). Each sector can be described in terms of the two
dimensions: Leadership, for example, contains a high degree of Influence and some degree of
Cooperation; Helpful/Friendly behaviour some degree of Dominance and a high degree of
Cooperation; etc.

Studies in QTI have shown that interpersonal behaviour is an important factor in teaching
and has strong effects on student learning, attitudes towards the subject taught and students’
profession preferences later on (Wubbels et al., 2006). Moreover, it directly relates to order in
the classroom, which is among the most common problem areas in education, both for
beginning and experienced teachers (Veenman, 1984) and which is a major component of
classroom management (Doyle, 1986). Research has also shown that students’ perceptions of
teacher-student interpersonal behaviour are strongly related to student achievement and
motivation in all subject areas (den Brok, Brekelmans & Wubbels, 2004; Wubbels &
1998; Wubbels et al., 2006) and healthy teacher-student interpersonal relationships are a
prerequisite for engaging students in learning activities (Brekelmans, Sleegers & Fraser, 2000;
Wubbels & Levy, 1993). Besides these, healthy interpersonal relationships between teachers and
students are positively related with teachers’ satisfaction with their profession and with
prevention of burn-out (Ben-Chaim & Zoller, 2001; Wubbels & Levy, 1993). So, one of the key
requirements of education is to set up healthy communication within the classroom and
teacher-student interpersonal behaviour is a crucial element in the teaching-learning process.
There has been done some research in Turkey which shows a similar importance of the
teacher-student interpersonal relationship for the Turkish context (Açıkgöz, Özkal & Kılıç, 2003;
Beyaztürk & Kesner, 2005). In addition to these studies, researchers have reported that teachers’
characteristics as perceived by students had an effect on students’ achievement, motivation and
attitudes (Taşkafa, 1989; Doyran, 2000, Çetin 2001). Also, the report prepared for the National
Educational Development Project (NEDP) World Bank Project of YÖK (1998) concluded that
‘communication skills’ are the most important skills prospective teachers should posses and
that project specified these skills as giving clear and understandable explanations and
instructions, establishing effective classroom interaction (student/teacher, students/student and
teacher/student interaction), use of voice, effective verbal and nonverbal behaviours (e.g.
posture, eye contact, gestures etc).
To describe the desirable characteristics of a teacher is a complex task. Taşkafa (1989), for
example, interviewed 43 middle school students and asked them to write down their teacher’s
desirable and non desirable characteristics. Giving positive reinforcement, interacting friendly
with students, and understanding students’ feelings were the most frequently mentioned
desirable characteristics. Non-desirable characteristics of a teacher in this study were: isolating
some of the students, giving specific students preferential treatment, denying students chances
to perform or to talk in class, sneering at students and demanding students to learn. In another
study (Çetin,2001) with 100 higher education students, the ideal teacher behaviour was loosely
defined as friendly, understanding, cooperative, be aware of students individual differences
and general student physcology, besides having good subject matter knowledge and using
different teaching method in his/ her class. ,
Exemplary teachers have been defined in the domain of educational effective research by
linking characteristics and behaviours to student achievement and motivation. A number of
teachers behaviours have been exemplified by researchers in this domain (Creemers, 1994;
Lowyck, 1994; Scheerens & Bosker, 1997), such as communicating high expectations, providing
constructive feedback, delivering content in small and structured units, clarity of instruction
and (smoothness in) management skills.
More elaborate analysis of students’ and teachers’ perceptions of preferred teacher-student
interpersonal behaviour in studies using the QTI showed two distinct types of ‘ideal’ teachers:
preferred dominant teachers and preferred student-oriented teachers (Wubbels & Levy, 1993).
former displays a lot of cooperative behaviour, but also fair amounts of Leadership and


Strictness, while the latter provides a fair amount of student freedom compared to the dominant
In one study, van Oord and den Brok (2004) concluded that differences in perceptions of
preferred teacher interpersonal behaviour existed between students from international schools
in Norway and Wales. Students in Norway considered their best teacher as stricter than students
in Wales, while the latter considered their best teachers as providing more responsibility and
freedom. In addition to gender, culture-related differences in students’ perceptions have also
been reported in this study and in some other studies (Wubbels & Levy 1991; 1993; den Brok,
Levy, Rodriguez, & Wubbels, 2002). In a study with Polish students (Sztenjnberg, den Brok, &
Hurek, 2004), students perceptions at various educational levels were compared and the
authors concluded that primary education students rated their best teachers lower on
Leadership, Helpful/Friendly, Understanding and Student Freedom, while they rated them
higher on Uncertain, Dissatisfied and Admonishing than higher vocational education students.
Also in this study, students seemed to prefer a student-oriented teacher that displays a high
amount of both Influence and Proximity. This is in line with other studies conducted in the
Netherlands, Australia and the USA (Levy, Créton & Wubbels, 1993; Wubbels, & Levy, 1991).
In this study, different from previous research in Turkey teacher preferred behaviour as
perceived by students and teachers was investigated with interviews structured with the Model
for Teacher Interpersonal Behaviour (MITB). The MITB (as well as the Leary model) can be
generalized cross-culturally (Wubbels & Levy 1991; den Brok, Fisher, Brekelmans, Wubbels &
Richards, 2006).

Teachers’ and Students’ Perceptions of the Ideal Teacher (PDF Download Available). Available
ns_of_the_Ideal_Teacher [accessed Dec 04 2017].
Teachers’ and Students’ Perceptions of the Ideal Teacher (PDF Download Available). Available
ns_of_the_Ideal_Teacher [accessed Dec 04 2017].
Teachers’ and Students’ Perceptions of the Ideal Teacher (PDF Download Available). Available
ns_of_the_Ideal_Teacher [accessed Dec 04 2017].
Strict or Lenient Educator Personalities
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At the end of the article are guiding questions for the educator.

A hidden gem in classroom management is teacher personality and how it can influence the structure of
the classroom. When teacher personalities are discussed, the two most common types mentioned are
strict and lenient. There is no right or wrong personality for an educator to posses; however, there are
pros and cons to each personality and certain classroom problems may result from the educator’s

Teacher personality may be difficult for educators to exam because many educators instruct according to
inherent nature. Therefore, reflecting upon personality can cause personal distress because no educator
wants to feel like he is impeding the classroom environment. *It should be noted that this is not to tell
educators what personalities they should possess, but to assist in case a certain personality is impeding
the classroom.

Another aspect that should be implied is that strict or lenient is not a static state of being, they have
varying degrees of measure. With an increase of intensity comes an intensification of pros and cons. Each
personality is like a double edge sword that helps and hurts at the same time. That is why it is always
recommended to find a healthy balance to assist instruction and learning.

The Strict Educator

Strict educators have become synonymous with some crazed looking educator who wields a ruler and
breathes fire at every little indiscretion. Although it’s an exaggeration, some educators try to emulate a
military style regime by taking strictness to the highest possible level. However, being strict can be a
useful class manage tool, but remember, for everything gained there is something lost.

1. Makes students adhere to class structure which increases opportunities to learn.
Students normally behave better, so unwanted behavior does not interfere with the lesson as much.

2. It teaches the students about responsibility for their actions.

Students learn they have choices to make and they are held responsible for what they do. Example: No
homework= stay after class to do homework.

3. More likely to treat everyone the same as rules govern the class as opposed to
The strict educator is normally guided by rules which allow a systematic management of students.
Example: A quiet student who never causes trouble becomes angry and unleashes a torrent of bad words.
Even though this student has never done this, the student will receive the same punishment as everyone
else. Whereas a more lenient educator may rationalize that it is not normal for that student and let it be,
but the strict educator is governed by the rules and there are usually no exceptions. The strict educator
understands that playing favorites diminishes the rules and will not let that happen.

4. The rules are clearly known to the students so they know what is expected of them.
A strict educator will make the rules known to the students because he wants everyone to abide.
Therefore, the students are clear on what is expected.

5. Students tend to be more respectful.

At the lower levels of strictness, some students will honor the educator because they understand the
educator is trying to help them learn.

1. Can’t connect with students.
An overly strict educator can create a barrier between him and the students. That barrier creates several of
the problems below.

2. Decreases student participation.

When students can’t connect with an educator, they normally don’t feel any need to participate. Whether
it’s lack of connection or afraid of being admonished for being wrong, student participation suffers.

3. Kills classroom atmosphere

That inaccessible barrier the educator has created can make the classroom a place of dread instead of
learning. An overly strict educator can decrease motivation in the classroom.

4. Respect through fear.

There are two levels of respect: honor and fear. Anything done in fear produces lower results than from
honor. Example: If a student is doing an assignment, he may be concentrating more on how demanding
the educator will be instead of focusing on what he can learn.

5. Students rebel against the rules in protest.

An educator who is overly strict could cause students to break rules as a form of protest. It may become a
joke amongst the students of how they anger the educator. This is not normal, but it is possible.

The Lenient Educator

The lenient teacher is more laid back and easy-going. The classroom becomes a freer place without rules
to burden the students. However, similar to a strict educator, even though students are allowed to be free,
too much freedom can have adverse effects on the classroom and students.
1. Students favor the educator more.
Students like an educator that allows more freedom in the classroom. This will allow the educator to gain
popularity which may garner more respect from the students.

2. Students don’t feel burdened.

The students don’t feel the stress of rules hovering over them. They can relax without worrying about
breaking rules. The process of learning is not a quick shot, but a drawn out process, so being relaxed will
increase the opportunity to learn.

3. May increase participation.

Students may feel more freedom allows them to communicate in class without fear of reprisal. Also, with
less rules they may feel they have more responsibility in class.

4. Creates connections with the educator.

Students may feel closer to the lenient educator because they are trusted. This trust may allow the
students to interact with the educator in a way that a strict teacher wouldn’t afford.

1. Diverse expectations of what is expected.
When students aren’t given a set of rules to follow, then they are able to set their own rules. These rules
may or may not mirror the educator’s expectations for the students. This may cause problems for the
educator in reaching the class objective.

2. Doesn’t focus on responsibility.

Students are free to act and perform how they want. Students may not learn the responsibilities of being a
student which may have consequences down the road.

3. Emotions can govern decisions.

Without rules to govern the students, educators can fall into the trap of letting certain students escape
punishment while other students do not. Also, it allows for potential manipulation from cunning students
who know how gain sympathy.

4. Students may take a free pass.

While some students may participate more, some students will definitely not participate if it is seen as a

5. Respect for the wrong reason.

Students may respect or like the educator more, but it may not be a compliment. Some students look for
the easiest path and they like the educator who requires the least. In other words, some students don’t
want to learn and they cherish the educator who allows that.

What does it all mean?

Each style has a way of benefiting the classroom depending on the educator’s objectives. There are many
other factors involved with deciding which personality to utilize such as student age, student level, grades
or no grades, curved grades, etc… For example, a class offered to working adults who are not receiving
grades or a certificate may allow the educator to be more lenient with late arrivals as opposed to a
university class where grades are being curved. In the first instance, the adult students are paying, and
since there are no grades or certificates involved, it is up to the student to reap the benefits of their money.
On the other hand, in a university class where grades are curved, it can affect a student’s grade point
average; a set of rules such as being late can create the ability to curve grades easier.

So what is the best personality? Neither is better than the other when standing alone, but combine them
together to allow balance and it helps create a disciplined engaging classroom.

Using both personalities at once.

Some educators realize they are either one or the other and inquire about being more balanced, but they
assume their natural personality does not allow for parity. Balance is the key to implementing both strict
and lenient personalities. However, Tesol Class does not like the terms “strict” or “lenient,” instead we
want to label the balance as a “structured” educator.

Strategies to be a structured educator.

 Set appropriate classroom rules to guide the students. Too many rules become burdensome, while
too little will allow too much freedom. Think of what is essential to increase learning and explain
to the students why these rules have been made.

 When students break a rule, look seriously at them and explain they are doing something they are
not supposed to do. Try not to yell, but be serious about upholding the standards set. After
addressing the problem, ask the student/students if they understand why it is a problem and use
a softer voice to acknowledge their answer and make a joke if possible. If a joke is out of the
question, then a smile to show no anger for the mistake.

This is psychological as the students understand that they did something wrong, but the educator does not
make them feel like “bad” students. Students can acknowledge the wrongdoing but understand the
educator still “likes” them.

 Sometimes educators get really upset and yell at the students. If the students happen to break the
rules and educator yells, then take a few minutes to gain composure and try to begin smiling or be
upbeat again. Being angry for the remainder of class will spoil the interaction and mood of the

Again, this is psychological. If the students have a connection with the educator and they do something
that causes the educator to fume the entire lesson, then the students feel bad and the ability to learn is
hampered. The educator should do his best to return to normal and let the past be the past.

 Never let what happened in the class carry over outside of class or the next week.

 Be interactive with the students on a personal level, not just an academic level. Arrive to class a
few minutes early to talk about what is happening in their lives. In class, if some students have
finished tasks earlier than others, talk with them if there is a chance. Any kind of talking will show
the students the educator is interested in them personally.
Even building a rapport with a few students has benefits as the other students will notice and understand
the educator is approachable.

 When students give wrong answers, encourage them or tell them they did well, but the answer
isn’t completely right. Always be encouraging to students so they know their effort is appreciated.

 Make sure the rules apply to everyone.

 Allow the student freedom to interact and enjoy class, but if the students start getting out of
control where learning ceases, it is time to calm the students down. For example, if there is a fun
activity with a group of seven-year olds and they are laughing and having fun, it is okay. However,
if they are laughing so hard they lie down on the floor and roll around, now is the time to stop the
activity as it has gotten out of hand. The same can be said with adult learners minus the floor

 If there is a really bad problem with a student, take that student outside and talk the problem over
or wait until after class. Admonishing students in front of class can be counter-productive

 If the educator reprimands a student in error, admit the mistake and apologize to the student.

The structured educator is fair and balanced with the rules and allowing students to be themselves. Many
times educators are labeled as strict because when rules are broken they are quick to anger and remain
angry. This feeds into the belief the educator is “always” angry. On the other hand, lenient educators are
guilty of not upholding the rules and the students notice this. Therefore, the structured educator will
balance both aspects.

The first step is reflecting upon the problems in class and determining why those problems are happening.
If the problem is being too strict or too lenient, then there are some strategies one can implement to
become more structured and have the best of both personalities. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter
how many students obeyed all the rules or how many students love the educator; what matters most is
what the students learned. That is the ultimate goal and the educator’s personality should assist that

Strict Teacher

A strict teacher is very tough on students. He/she always insists on adhering to the deadlines. Such
a teacher dislikes any mistakes or carelessness on the part of the students. Students have to be
extra cautious under such a teacher. He/she is like a disciplinarian, always keeping students on their
toes. Students who have a very strict teacher are constantly forced to keep too high a standard.
even if such a teacher has good intentions, the students fail to understand and appreciate them,
because of their tender age.
A strict teacher fails to touch the heart of his/her students, always remains a teacher and failing to
become a confidante of the students. Students never respect such a teacher from the heart. They
accept him/her only out of compulsion or fear. A strict teacher will find it extremely difficult to be
loved by his/her students, especially, those belonging to a small age group. Overtime, a student may
come to understand the intent of a strict teacher, but it is highly improbable that he/she will
appreciate it.

Qualities Of A Strict/ Perfectionist Teacher

Less Approachable
There are many teachers who believe that they can earn a high opinion from students by keeping a
stern profile and an up-tight behavior. However, such teachers fail to realize that the students will be
afraid to approach them. They will never feel free to ask questions or raise doubts in the class, which
defeats the whole purpose behind observing strictness with students. Harshness and severity will
only make the teacher less approachable for students. It is very important to be gentle and a little
flexible with the students. Inculcating fear in their minds may invite complaints from their guardians in
the long run. Besides, it will also adversely affect the psychology of a young child.

Discouraging Attitude
Some teachers are strict to the extent that they terrify the students and consequentially, the latter
start attending their classes altogether. Their strict regime discourages the students from their
classes. They try to make excuses for skipping classes, which harms their studies and affects their
performance in the respective subject. The student is so precautious of committing mistakes that
he/she ends up doing silly mistakes, which invites further scathing criticism from a strict teacher and
hurts his/her confidence.

Over-Critical Of Students
A strict teacher cannot accept any error or blunder on the part of the students and can be very
contemptuous at such instances. Such teachers make the students feel embarrassed and ashamed
of their mistakes. Strict teachers are over critical of their students and lash out on them at the
smallest of pretexts. They find it difficult to accept inaccuracy and want every thing to be perfect, in
accordance with their perfectionist attitude. It is important to realize that achieving perfection is an art
which can be learnt only with time and hence, students should not be forced into it.