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Best Teaching PracticesService Learning

Adapting to Evolving Teaching Methods

By July 12, 2019March 25th, 2021No Comments

A study on creativity and innovation in education showed that conventional teaching methods, aka “chalk-and-talk”, are still the way most teachers operate in the majority of schools. 

That’s because “chalk-and-talk” is much easier than engaging with students. Chalk-and-talk takes a lot less effort and preparation. But, it’s certainly not the most effective teaching method…

Schools need to adapt to evolving teaching methods in order to achieve their objectives, and it starts with teacher motivation, recruitment of personality types, and keeping the teacher motivated to prepare the best teaching methods on a consistent basis for all learners.

In this article, we’ll explore:

  • Innovative teaching styles and methods for everyday teaching. 
  • The importance of flexibility and adaptability in teaching styles.
  • Visible thinking and learning, plus impact.
  • Impact of data on learning.
  • The role of teachers.
teaching methods

Innovative teaching methods

Traditionally, the customary method of teaching was either in a classroom or in the case of the very wealthy, private tutors.

Anyone looking back to their own student days, will recall that they did better in some subjects compared to others.


Well, two reasons: first, how much we were interested in the topic, and/or secondly, how much we enjoyed the class and it’s teacher. Aka, teaching style.

The environment may have evolved to include radical teaching materials like e-learning, online courses, presentations, webinars etc., but what has not changed is how the information is presented.

Let’s get real. Some teachers are better than others, just as is true with any line of work; some teachers have a calling while others do it for the holidays and the salary. This means that it is essential that teachers are kept motivated through professional learning, in order for them to desire to keep learning best practices in teaching, in order to keep their teaching style fresh, innovative and interesting.

Some of the teaching methods used by the most innovative teachers include: 

  • Lessons held outside of the classroom e.g. a museum when studying history.
  • Holding a debate where the pros and cons of a subject can be presented and discussed.
  • Experiential learning e.g. planting a garden but students get a lesson in counting the seeds and measuring distances between rows.
  • Context based learning – learning geography and navigational skills when using a map.
  • Computational thinking which enables students to break down a problem into steps to find a solution.

Using tools to learn a skill e.g. carpentry and cooking

teaching methods

Flexibility and adaptability

The ability to adapt in a changing world is a resourceful skill; the importance of which is critical in the educational environment.

Practically speaking, consider the teacher who still uses the good ol’ blackboard, as opposed to one who prepares colourful presentations and games: which teaching method is going to reap the better reward? It all comes down to the resources that are available to teachers and their knowledge and understanding of what strategies and tools to use. If something is not improving learning, then we must try different approaches.

But it means laying down the chalk and picking up something new, and unfamiliar, like technology. It means more effort, more time, more engagement. Teaching methods must evolve to accommodate the student, instead of the student evolving to accommodate an outdated style.

Lessons can incorporate videos, podcasts and coding to name a few. How often do students teach the class? In modern classrooms, students should have a say in what and how they are learning.

In addition, home schooling and online schooling are both gaining popularity, and for the most part, allows the student to work at their own pace and can also be more cost effective than traditional outdated schooling.

Visible thinking and learning 

Visible thinking not only provides students with a rich learning experience, but also aids their intellectual development, guiding their thought processes by encouraging active processing and helps the teacher understand student thinking.

Key benefits of visible thinking are:

  • Increased understanding of the content presented. 
  • Engaged discussions and participation.
  • Better ability to think and learn.
  • Increased confidence.
  • Sparking of curiosity.
  • Helping the teacher understand the student’s thinking to clear up any misconceptions.

Students who are encouraged to document the learnings as a reference tool, can view it anytime for further learning reinforcement.

The key benefits of Visible Learning are documented by John Hattie’s research on learning through his meta-analyses on 252 influences on student achievement.

Teachers should include strategies that rank over a 4.0 into their teacher toolbox to include the following:

  • Cognitive Task Analysis
  • Response to intervention
  • Jigsaw Method
  • Transfer Strategies
  • Feedback

I would recommend teachers look at this handy 252 influences pdf that teachers could add to their toolbox to improve student learning.

teaching methods

Impact of data on learning

The ability to turn data into meaningful information to improve efficiency and effectiveness, is making an impact in education and learning.

An example is the ability to go through student results which can in turn be used to assess if a school is on track, if the subject is relevant and also to help identify gaps or needs.

Data review helps determine a curriculum to ensure training of skills that include data management.

Data management also has an added advantage of helping teachers analyse their students to identify the most effective teaching method for each.

Students need feedback on learning data to understand where they are at in their learning, and to know what they can do to improve in their learning.

Students benefit from the availability of information at the touch of a button, which enhances the learning experience. Gone are the days of withholding learning data; we need to embrace the use of learning data in all schools.

Role of teachers

The role of the teacher has evolved; they used to just stand in front of a classroom of students and transfer knowledge. No more.

Teachers, on a daily basis, not only facilitate the transfer of knowledge, but need to have solid relationships with students to be able to sometimes delve into the behavior of the student in order to facilitate a positive learning experience. 

The teacher often becomes learner, expert, artist, networker, coach, facilitator, assessor, coordinator, consultant, planner, manager and so much more. It all revolves around the student and how best to meet the student’s needs.

It is the teacher who brings life to a concept, or numbs it.

Tara Barton

Tara brings passion and a deep understanding of service learning, rooted in years of experience, to her training. Her training builds bridges from theory to implementation while generously sharing her resources and knowledge to ensure our success. Tara works with the whole school (administration, teachers, students, and SL leaders) to build a sustainable program that is embedded in the curriculum and tied to the mission. She energized a faculty on a Friday afternoon, no easy feat, leaving them with a desire to learn more about SL and to become more involved. I cannot recommend Tara highly enough.

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