Conceptual Framework: The Facilitative Teacher
The faculty of the Teacher Education Program believes the role of the teacher is to facilitate both learning and personal development. The program’s goal is to help graduates become facilitative teachers who will promote the learning and development of their own students. The facilitative teacher is mindful of both the cognitive and affective development of his or her students. The philosophical basis for the facilitative teacher model is rooted in the humanistic works of Carl Rogers, J. Wittmer, R. Myrick, and Purkey.
The faculty of the Teacher Education Program believes that while the effective teacher model is useful, it is often oversimplified to describe a “generic” teaching style (Schulman, 1992; and Elmore, 1992). Moreover this approach focuses primarily on the cognitive domain in the learning process, with an emphasis on learning facts which can be measured by standardized tests. Thus, the effective teacher model neglects important aspects of learning in the affective domain. As Carl Rogers (1982) has noted, the emotional environment of the classroom, open communication, and a genuine regard for individual students are also crucial elements which complement the learning process. For example, it is felt that the teacher must understand and value cultural differences to be able to modify curriculum content and the instructional approach to meet the diverse needs and interests of students. Wittmer and Myrick (1989) have applied the ideas of Carl Rogers and others to the teaching profession in their recent publication, The Teacher as Facilitator (1989). Purkey and Novak (1984) share this humanistic perspective in their research relating self-concept to both teaching and learning. The Teacher Education Program draws from this humanistic work in defining its knowledge base. The facilitative teacher approach with its recognition of the importance of the affective domain is consistent with the educational mission of Methodist University and its goals of intellectual, emotional, and ethical growth.
The facilitative teacher model is fully integrated into both our curriculum and our evaluation methods. In the following section we will define the facilitative teacher in more depth, and describe how we assess students at the completion of their Education Program based on aspects of the facilitative teacher model.
Definition of the Facilitative Teacher
The facilitative teacher is one who guides, instigates, and motivates students to learn. As such, the teacher is the facilitator, rather than the source of learning (Silberman, 1970). In addition, the facilitative teacher understands that learning is a complex process which involves an interaction between the curriculum, instruction, the student, and the milieu (Schwab, 1973). Further, the facilitative teacher effectively implement appropriate instructional strategies and creates a positive learning environment in the classroom. This positive environment, referred to as “invitational education” by Purkey and Novak (1984), is based on four principles: all children “are able, valuable and responsible”; and “this potential can best be cooperative activity”; children “possess relatively untapped potential”; and “this potential can best be realized by … inviting development” (Purkey and Novak, 1984, p.2). Finally, the facilitative teacher serves as a guide and resource person, encouraging the student to reflect and bring meaning to experiences (Dewey, 1938). Indeed, Dewey has noted that “everything the teacher does, as well as the manner in which he does it, incites the child to respond in some way or another and each response tends to set the children’s attitude” (1933, p.59). The students’ positive attitudes toward schooling creates positive self-concepts, high motivation, and successful achievements (Combs, 1982; Maslow, 1970). The child’s self-concepts is first based on how others perceive him. Teachers then must behave in a manner that conveys positive regard for students and high expectations for both achievement and behavior. The relationship between teacher and student plays an important role in developing the child’s perception and self-concept. We support Carl Roger’s notion that “the individual has within himself vast resources for self-understanding, for altering his self-concept, his attitudes, and his self-directed behavior” – and that these resources can be tapped only if a definable climate of facilitative psychological attitudes can be provided (1974, p. 115). Consequently, in this environment, learning is an active process, the teacher is the facilitator, and students are invited to learn.
The Methodist University faculty also believes that the focus of the curriculum should be the child. As such, the teacher must address the needs and interests of the child (the affective domain, as well as the cognitive domain) in the classroom. In his Freedom to Learn (1969) and Freedom to Learn for the 1980’s (1983), Carl Rogers has developed these ideas; and Wittmer and Myrick model has served as a basis for hundreds of inservice workshops conducted to help teachers become facilitators of learning. The Teacher Education Program at Methodist University, in turn, has applied these concepts in training preservice teachers. In a recent dialogue with Joe Wittmer, he revealed this may be the first effort to incorporate this model in an undergraduate Teacher Education Program.
The Wittmer and Myrick model incorporates six primary characteristics of the facilitative teacher, four of which fall into the affective domain:
- attentive – communicating, accurately listening, effectively taking time for a student, looking for meanings and feelings behind words, and observing facial expressions
- genuine – being honest in interpersonal relationships and displaying a real concern and caring for the student
- understanding – having empathy for others’ frame of reference, including different cultural backgrounds, and perceiving and responding to students’ feelings
- respectful – valuing each student as being unique, showing a positive regard for each student and accepting his or her feelings and being polite to students, even when handling misbehavior.
The remaining two traits of the Wittmer and Myrick model reside primarily in the cognitive domain.
- knowledgeable – processing knowledge of one’s subject matter, developing the ability to use a variety of instructional strategies, and serving as a resource person.
- communicative – possessing effective interpersonal skill, being able to convey ideas and feelings clearly in both written and verbal form, and having an awareness of subtle meaning behind words.
Purkey and Novak (1984) also apply this humanistic theory to teaching practice in their book, Inviting School Success. These authors have written numerous articles and given many lectures describing the impact of a teacher’s language and actions on students’ self-concepts and the consequences for learning. They describe a number of strategies and techniques for the teacher to facilitate a positive learning environment. In order to develop a positive self-concept in students, the teacher must convey the message that the student is able, responsible, and valuable. The facilitative teacher supports these beliefs which form the basis for the teacher’s behavior toward students. These teacher behaviors correspond to Wittmer and Myrick’s (1989) four affective characteristics of the facilitative teacher: attentive, genuine, understanding, and respectful.
The faculty involved in the Methodist University Teacher Education Program have modified the work of Wittmer and Myrick and have identified four characteristics as representative of the Methodist University Facilitative Teacher:
- Content Knowledge:
- Demonstrates current knowledge of subject matter
- Identifies concepts, facts and/or skills basic to the content area(s)
- Utilizes outside resources pertaining to their field
- Teaches to clear, concise objectives. Provides appropriate instructional opportunities adapted to diverse learners
- Pedagogy Knowledge:
- Facilitates student learning through presentation of the content in clear and meaningful ways
- Utilizes a variety of strategies, including technology, to communicate subject matter
- Keeps students actively engaged
- Asks high level questions to elicit critical thinking, problem solving, and performance skills
- Accurately assesses and analyzes student learning
- Interacts positively with students including active listening
- Speaks and writes articulately using standard English
- Integrates multiple technological approaches
- Provides clear and precise directions that students can easily understand
- Recognizes and builds upon teachable moments
- Maintains eye contact
- Listens actively
- Demonstrates awareness of verbal and non-verbal behavior
- Monitors student activity
- Monitors progress and provides feedback for all students
- Demonstrates sensitivity and responsiveness to students’ personal ideas
- Demonstrates sensitivity and responsiveness to students’ needs
- Demonstrates sensitivity and responsiveness to students’ interests
- Demonstrates sensitivity and responsiveness to students’ feelings
- Demonstrates sensitivity and responsiveness to students’ diverse cultural backgrounds
Philosophy of Education
- We believe that facilitative teachers will promote the learning and development of their own students.
- We believe that the facilitative teacher is mindful of both the cognitive and affective development of his or her students.
- We believe that the facilitative teacher understands that learning is a complex process that requires an interaction between curriculum, instruction, the student, and the environment.
- We believe that the facilitative teacher implements appropriate instructional strategies to create a positive learning environment in the classroom.