I honestly believe that both constructivist and behaviorist teaching styles can effectively be used in the classroom. Each student has a different way of learning and I believe the only way to reach the majority of the students is to incorporate more than one style of learning. Although my personality leads me toward a more constructivist theory of education, I also believe there are certain times when a behaviorist approach might work better. The bottom line is that each student is different and each class is different. Teachers need to be flexible enough to change their teaching styles to match their student’s needs. I know there are too many students to do this with individually, but if a teacher is flexible and can try and bend to meet the needs of as many students as possible, it will not only help the students learn but it will also create a better learning environment and better student teacher relationships.
Classroom organization is a vital key to the success of students. This sets the tone for the whole learning environment. I definitely follow more of the constructivist views on this topic. I feel that a teacher standing in the front of the class lecturing is boring and unproductive. I want a classroom where the students interact with each other as well as the teacher. I believe letting students work in groups allows them to exchange ideas with each other and work together as a team. Some who believe in the behaviorist theory many think this is counterproductive and that students need to learn on their own. I do not agree. Children by nature are inquisitive and curious. With the freedom that comes along with asking their peers questions and taking part in discussions, it allows for a more open learning environment and I believe the students will react enthusiastically.
Keeping students motivated is another key element in the learning process. Again, I believe I take the constructivist point of view on this topic. I want my students to want to learn, to want to do well. I do not want them doing things simply because they have to. I believe that when students do things because they must do them instead of wanting to do them, they will do the least amount possible just to get by on assignments. Granted, I know that there will be students that do not want to do assignments, but I feel that will be reflected in their grade. Teachers following the behaviorist theory may feel this is not a good way to teach, but I do not agree. I had both kinds of teachers in high school, and there were classes that I wanted to do well in and others that I knew I had to because that was what the teacher wanted. In the classes that I wanted to do well, I feel I excelled and learned so much. The other classes I did what I needed to get by.
Discipline is a touchy subject in most schools. I actually take more a behaviorist point of view on this topic. I believe when students are learning about different subjects, it is good to let them be free to explore and think for themselves. As far as confrontations are concerned, I do not feel that many students have the knowledge or maturity to deal with it on their own. I feel that it is our job as teachers to keep a safe, positive environment for students and if there are students disrupting that environment, then I think they should removed from the class; whether it be for that day, or for the rest of the year. I do not think it is fair to interrupt others from learning. The constructivist point of view allows for a more relaxed atmosphere and allows students to try and work through problems on their own. In some cases this may work, in other I feel it may only cause more problems. I do feel we should help students learn how to deal with problems and teach them the skills to be able to make right decisions, but until those skills are taught we cannot expect them to know how to deal with these situations.
My overall teaching style embodies more of the constructivist theory. I want my students to think for themselves and to try and figure things out instead of just taking notes off a blackboard. I want to engage and challenge my students to want to do their best in and out of school. I believe this is possible. I know it will be harder for some more than others, but I do believe it can be done. I understand that most students may not always understand things right away and will make many mistakes, but I feel making mistakes is one of the best ways to learn. The more mistakes you make, the better you understand the lesson or topic or whatever ou are studying. Learning should not be about memorizing material. It should be about opening your mind and understanding new things. Yes, there are going to be topics and subjects that are less than interesting, but if you have a good, interactive and positive atmosphere to learn in, it will make it much easier to study things you may not like.
William Arthur Ward said, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires” (Quote Garden, 2010). Students should be the first priority and should come first in everything a teacher does. It is not about trying to prove to them how much you know and how much information you can give them at one time. It is about teaching students in a way that they can understand and benefit from the most. We are shaping the minds of tomorrow and we do not want to turn them into robots that only do as they are told. We want a generation that can think for themselves and can solve problems using critical thinking skills. We are there to help them in all aspects of growing and learning, and if we are not flexible in trying to meet their needs we are only stifling their willingness and eagerness to learn.