Difference Between Facilitators & Teachers

Smiling teacher next to young student
... LWA/Dann Tardif/Blend Images/Getty Images

Facilitators and teachers differ in their methods and objectives. Facilitators gently guide participants to new insights while teachers directly present course content that students must master. At times, facilitators may teach a new concept and teachers often facilitate discussions. However, their overall styles are different. Generally, facilitators are employed in community agencies or business settings, but most teachers work in schools.

1 Definition

Facilitators and teachers perform some similar functions in a classroom and corporate setting. However, their roles differ in the way they interact with learners and participants. A facilitator helps people discover on their own through mediating discussions, guiding meetings or proctoring exams and study sessions. On the other hand, a teacher provides direct instruction using presentations and various classroom activities. Teachers may occasionally act as facilitators in the sense that they may encourage peer-to-peer class discussions; however, teachers ultimately explain the course content.

2 Characteristics

Facilitators and teachers show awareness of the learning environment in the classroom or meeting room that they oversee. They share very similar characteristics but use their skills for different purposes. Both facilitators and teachers display strong listening, reasoning, organizational and time management skills. Both must also have tact and authoritative personalities because sometimes discussions or topics may depart from their intended direction.

3 Training and Education

Facilitators may or may not have specific training or education related to their role. However, many training programs and workshops exist for individuals who want to become skilled facilitators. These training and workshop sessions teach facilitators how to manage time and how to calmly respond to difficult situations. By contrast, teachers undergo many years of specific training and education for the classes they instruct. Prior to becoming certified as teachers, they typically complete undergraduate and postgraduate programs that build their teaching skills and knowledge of subject matter.

4 Benefits

Both facilitators and teachers play people centered roles because they interact with students and meeting participants. The benefits of a facilitator in a classroom or corporate setting include having a skilled leader to keep discussions on track, to help meeting members reach a consensus and to serve as a mediator. The benefits of a teacher include having an a highly trained leader to explain new topics, administer exams, grade projects and provide resource materials.