Teaching is one of the most challenging work in the world. It comes with loads of demands and requirement, put forth, by the school administrators and students as well. Therefore, teachers, very often, need consistent, deliberate practice to remain— or master teachers. Unfortunately, the demands of the school year often get in the way, but to do better—and get better too; you need to take time out during your off days.
Depending on your schedule over the next few weeks, during this school closure due to COVID-19 you may have some additional time to refresh, reflect, and prepare for the coming year. If so, try some of the below mentioned strategies to rejuvenate your teaching practice.
Constructivism is a key to a successful learning environment. Students have an in-built nature to inquire or say they are always curious to know more, and lessons need to provide such opportunities. Many teachers fail to understand this and their teaching may have lacked this. Rather, students were simply going through the motions, receiving information and being expected to apply it. The depth in the learning may have gone missing because the students hadn’t fought for it themselves. They hadn’t discovered it for themselves; and so their connection to it may become superficial.
For a better teaching, you, now, need to not only design activities that promote independent thoughts, but also ask pertinent questions that initiate deep thinking. Furthermore, allow space for the likelihood of the lesson diverging from the track, realizing that that is the nature of constructivism. At the same time, it is incredibly important: to honor that student’ interests will demand some veering from the path. Lastly, all this will help them receive a deeper learning experience and will have them take more ownership of their progress.
Another key element to add for a refreshing teaching experience is to make the class – interactive. It is characterized by several different elements; from the delivery method of the information, to the relevance of the learning.
Many teachers find writing down a lesson to be a sufficient kinesthetic activity. But, students need to be physically active at some point in the lesson, whether it be moving around the class consulting other tables’ work, or adding ideas to a common board. While, teaching a lesson you can create and have your students act on a short scene; this will facilitate a deeper engagement, help them understand the lessons better and make learning fun.
It’s very common to see students’ seek their partner’s help to understand a lesson, to know what to do in a task, or to check if their learning is actually what was asked of them. Viewing a lesson back via video is a good option, it will promote individual learning but depending too much on it may lead to cultivation of a layman’s attitude in students and learning may not prove to be as effective as a collaborative learning is.
It is believed that students having opportunities to view others’ work from around the room is very effective. We already know, observing your teacher’s perspective and understanding of a lesson is one thing, but knowing what their peers are thinking will spark greater stimulus as they can relate, compete, challenge, and reshape their thinking; hence, deepen their learning experience. Students can cooperate with their peers in learning not only through an interaction or discussion in class, they make use of social media by posting stories on their walls or posting comments on a peers social media profile ; as it is so pervasive in students’ lives .They will get to explore more by interacting with students of varied regions.
Also, while organizing class discussions make sure that every student participates, you may start by asking questions and then getting students to discuss their thoughts with their partners, and then the table, it will encourage everyone to think, before the findings are offered to the class discussion.
Besides all these, you need to ask yourself these distinctive questions-
- Is there an array of expectations in the task?
- Am I catering for all abilities, scaffolding certain tasks and providing increased challenge on demand?
- Have I consciously placed students on tables to maximize cooperative learning and to both push and support each other?
- Am I allowing and prompting variation in how students demonstrate their knowledge and understanding, or is everything written?
If you can answer these, then you are catering to a student’s requirement and help provide them a progressive education.
Unpacking your standard:
Lately, you might have heard a lot about "unpacking" standards. Most of the unpacking involves a complicated process that ends up obfuscating standards rather than clarifying them.
But, here by “unpacking” I suggest you to look at each standard in terms of the following questions:
- What thinking process does the standard demand?
- What thinking skills will best help students develop that thinking process?
- What content and skills will students need to learn?
If you can answer these three questions about every standard you teach, you'll be able to plan units that help students think thoroughly. Moreover, you'll find these units to be much more interesting to teach.
Understanding: your own why.
Before, planning a lesson you need to understand your “why.” Like, why are you teaching this? If you answer,plainly - Because it's in the curriculum? Then, this is where your teaching may lose its joy.
Therefore, during your leisure period think about your own personal "why." Are you teaching a unit on scientific experiment because you want students to know the wonders of science? Are you teaching students the procedure to convert decimals into fractions so they can be ready for algebra in a few years? Are you teaching them the life cycle of plants so they can better appreciate our planet and thus be better stewards of natural resources? Find your own "why" and use it to animate the lessons you plan—and to feed your own passion for teaching.
Write your assessments.
Last but not the least, if you're learning a new curriculum or transitioning to a new set of standards and you have the freedom to write your own assessments, off days are a great time to get these done. Rather than trying to plan out your entire year, write a general overview of your year , check what have you done, what have you taught(in what way) , what others teaching procedures could have been used(or did you experiment with your teaching methodology) and more. Assess your teaching through these questions and this will help you understand your new curriculum in a better way and eventually hone your teaching.
These were few of the strategies to help you add charm to your aged- teaching.
Do practice them and let us know your experience in the comment section.