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Teaching styles – what type of teacher are you?


For many years, there has been a debate in education surrounding ‘progressive’ and ‘traditional’ teaching methods. As outlined in a blog post from ‘Scenes from the battleground’, student-centred teaching methods gained prominence in the first decade of the 21st century.

Ofsted inspectors tended to favour progressive teaching, and schools were criticised for failing to prioritise such methods. However, according to an article in the Telegraph, there was a considerable drop in these instances in early 2014 after Sir Michael Wilshaw made a direct appeal to inspectors.

Nevertheless, whether teachers adopt progressive teaching practices or traditional ones, their influence in students’ lives is immense. Aristotle once said, “Those who educate children well are more to be honoured than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, those the art of living well.”

Teachers come from many different walks of life and have different reasons for choosing the profession. And their individual personalities contribute to their own unique teaching style.

What type of teacher are you?

LKMco compiled a research study,  Why Teach, in association with education company Pearson. It explored why teachers choose to join the profession and what motivates them to stay. The study surveyed over 1,000 teachers in England and outlined four broad teaching styles based on their answers.


These teachers care about making a difference – not just to their pupils but also to their community and society. Their ambition to do good for society is the driving force behind their work. Idealists describe themselves as being good at teaching. However, the desire to change the world remains primary. They look for a job where they can have the greatest impact, and are more likely to teach in local authority and community schools than other teacher types. Idealist teachers love their subject and are committed to education and the profession.


This type consists of those who always wanted to be teachers. Their main aim is to contribute to the development of their own students. They are in the profession because they enjoy their craft and want to improve what they do. They are committed to teaching and believe in the importance of continued professional development.


These teachers are less likely to raise strong opinions on any subject. They are moderately influenced by external factors. They tend to be open-minded, flexible, and neutral. Moderates are motivated by several different factors that keep them in the profession – their interest in the subject and their desire to make a difference to pupils’ lives.

However, when it comes to recommending the profession, this type is less enthusiastic compared with the Practitioners. They are also more likely to have considered leaving teaching than the Idealists.


These are teachers who have made a rational decision about being in the profession. They tend to weigh up the pros and cons before deciding to teach. Rationalists believe they can make a difference but at the same time, they also realise they need a job with decent pay and holidays. They don’t prioritise work over their personal lives and sometimes they tend to feel frustrated about their profession. Unlike other groups, they are less likely to recommend this profession to others or to their younger selves.

To quote a line from this research study, ‘it takes someone special to be a teacher’. These categories are not exhaustive and might overlap in some cases.

So, what kind of teacher are you? Are you an idealist with a pragmatic approach? Or are you a rationalist who blends elements from all of these categories?

Mark Kingham
Mark Kingham

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