There is a better way to do things, and this article will demonstrate the most innovative teaching strategies of the future, why they work, and how to get started.
1. Innovative Teaching and Learning
Route learning, reading from a textbook, and writing on a board are just not going to cut it; not when we know so much about effective teaching and learning and have so much available to us today.
Here are our suggestions to improve student learning:
1.1 Teacher Appraisal Model
A solid foundation is always the most important, for without it, the structure becomes weak.
Since we depend on teachers to achieve the school’s vision, the focus should be on equipping and empowering the teacher first and foremost. An effective teacher appraisal model for professional learning, growth and development, challenges teachers to be the best that they can be to improve student learning and offer best practices in teaching.
1.2 Cater to ALL Learners and Learning
The reason why many students flounder is that teachers cater to learning styles and not learners and learning.
We have come so far from a focus on learning styles to personalized learning. Key questions we need to ask are:
- Where is the student at in their learning progression?
- What do they need to know, and be able to do to further develop?
- How can they monitor their own learning for self efficacy?
Learners all need to know why and how they learn, and be empowered to take ownership of their learning.
In teaching strategies, the curriculum and teaching must consider all learners and learning, not only the traditional strategies/methods from years past.
1.3 Use Creativity, Innovation and Challenge
Creativity, innovation and challenge is key to engaging students. Games, audio-visual materials, real world learning, brainstorming creative and innovative ideas, team challenges, choice of activity, taking the lesson out the classroom, and simulations are effective as part of teaching and learning strategies.
1.4 Socio-Emotional Learning
Map out a scope and sequence of socio-emotional learning skills to be taught and learned as part of student learning progressions.
This will increase emotional intelligence, leading to decreased emotional distress and improved academic and social performance. Pair it with specific intervention strategies when necessary.
1.5 Collaboration and Communication
Use the cloud (Gsuite for Education is one example) for flexibility and improved security in addition to creating a space for collaboration and improved communication between teachers and teachers and students.
Allow weekly time for teachers to share teaching strategies, best practices, lessons learned and planning together to build a stronger learning journey and ensure continuity. Collective teacher efficacy has the greatest impact on student learning. John Hattie’s Visible Learning research provides educators with data on how to effectively improve student learning.
2. Service Learning vs. Community Service
While community service can take place at any time, and can be transformative in learning, service learning goes to the root.
That is because community service – while applaudable – only addresses a symptom, while service learning digs deeper into community needs, and how students can help make an impact.
For example, students may perform community service by picking up trash. service learning on the other hand, seeks to find out why there is trash through investigation of the community need and concepts studied such as conservation. Students then plan and prepare for action, they reflect, take action and demonstrate and communicate their service learning long-term solution for sustainability within the community.
Service Learning is teaching and learning that connects meaningful action; with the community, learning, personal growth, caring, and responsibility. It empowers students to develop new skills and knowledge through integrated connections to the curriculum.
Janet Eyler (winner of the 2003 Thomas Ehrlich Faculty Award for Service Learning) and Dwight E. Giles, Jr., describes service learning as, “a form of experiential education where learning occurs through a cycle of action and reflection as students. . . seek to achieve real objectives for the community and deeper understanding and skills for themselves. In the process, students link personal and social development with academic and cognitive development. . . experience enhances understanding; understanding leads to more effective action.”
3. Pedagogy in Education
The reason why thought has to be applied to pedagogy, is because of these many points, to name but a few:
- Students learn differently.
- Students have different personality traits (e.g. extraversion vs introversion).
- When theory, skills and knowledge is not used, it is forgotten.
- Learning is only permanent when it applies to day-to-day living.
- Reflection on lessons learned should trump grading.
- An integrated conceptual curriculum across all subjects is most effective for transfer.
Here are three of some of the most innovative pedagogies for the future:
Argue-learning gives a technical learning experience, for all to learn. It makes students apply greater thought, see different perspectives and refine ideas, imitating the workplace.
Scientific arguing teaches students how to take turns, listen actively, and respond to others effectively.
3.2 In-Context Learning
Context, as in service learning, enables students to learn from concepts, inquiry, community need, and experience. Added to that, service learning provides real-life teaching and learning opportunities that give relevance and meaning.
3.3 Global Competencies
We have to move past describing 21st century skills to global competencies that all learners need now and in the future. These competencies will not change. Providing learners with learning progressions of these skills and dispositions with the opportunities to reflect on how well they demonstrate them, will enable them to set goals to further develop towards mastery.
4. Personalized Learning
Teachers need to first understand why it’s so important to adapt to all learners and learning.
Knowing where each learner is at in their competency based learning progression towards mastery, and helping them understand themselves as learners through learner profiles.
Learners who know how to progress in their own learning through learner agency: setting goals, milestones, how to self monitor, how to self assess, and know how to develop global competencies, know when to ask for help, be able to have voice and choice in learning through various learner pathways, and flexible learning environments.
5. Curriculum Development for Global Citizens
A goal of all schools is to develop responsible global citizens. If we analyze every school vision and mission statement, we can find a direct link to developing global contributing citizens.
As educators our role is to provide opportunities for all students to develop an understanding of diversity, appreciation and respect; for the learner to comprehend his or her place in humanity as a responsible and active global citizen.
How is your school adapting from ‘old school’ teaching and learning -to truly live your vision and mission?
Here are a few examples of innovative teaching and learning:
THINK Global School
THINK Global School is a traveling high school. It’s learners travel to four countries for an eight-week term each school year. Students study the local language and culture all the while using project-based learning around real world issues.
Traffic Agent App
Students in a school from Norway designed the Traffic Agent app to promote road safety to and from school. Students continually add to the app by observing people in their communities. The app helps develop design thinking, and problem-solving skills while creating active students and community citizens.
Interactive Diversity created a web-based program called, “Don’t Guess My Race”, with the aim of helping teens develop critical thinking about identity and race. It’s goal is to do away with bias, stereotypes, and assumptions.
What needs to be considered when developing global citizen initiatives as part of teaching strategies, is:
- Global issues/concepts: poverty, equity, conservation, and literacy.
- The local community: knowledge and understanding of their needs (people learn best when they have practical exposure to the problems/issues of a community).
- Goals and needs of the community and the learner to be able to effectively take action and be able to reflect on making an impact.
6. Effective Teaching and Learning: Coaching for Change
The goal of any school? Student learning.
To fulfil the aim, we have to first focus on teachers as individuals. For effective teaching and learning to take place, and coaching for real and meaningful change, we have to look at the science of change.
A school is only as good as it’s teachers, so how can we inspire and motivate teachers to change their way of doing things? How does creating a culture of coaching improve learning for all? Does the incentive/reward system work?
Well, RSAnimate speaks of a scientific experiment which was conducted and which showed:
- As long as a task only involved mechanical skill, the higher the pay offered, the better the performance of the person.
- However, once the task called for rudimentary cognitive skills, the larger reward led to poorer performance.
In other words, incentives work for straight forward tasks, but when the task is more complicated, rewards don’t work well.
Teachers genuinely want all learners learning. Knowing their impacts as teachers on learners and learning inspires them to take action.
So what then is the answer to motivate teachers for change, and then in turn, for them to coach for change?
feeling like they’re making a contribution to improve learning.
This is true in the most profitable organizations too – companies that make their vision about more than just profit, attract better talent.
This video explains it in more detail:
Ideas for coaching for change
- Conversations which include learning data, and probing questions in order for learning goals and self-awareness to occur.
- Coaching can take place in the form of coach to peer, peer to peer, principal to principal, principal to teacher, student to student as well as with mentoring or coaching by other educational leaders or consultants.
- Co-teaching a planned lesson with assigned tasks; learning target and success criteria, formative assessment, observations, questioning, mini lesson/inquiry, noticing and naming, etc.
- Video recordings can help in observing teaching and learning in action and can be utilized to share with colleagues for visible learning.
NTPA research states, “By working with a coach, a new principal can gain insights into what works and what does not, while modeling the ongoing learning principles they expect from their teachers and students.”
7. Building an inquiry based learning network + checklist
Inquiry based learning encourages students to:
- Probe with thoughtful questions
- Make sense of what they’ve been taught
- Develop new understandings about the world around them
Through inquiry based learning, learners develop the skills and attitudes that are required for them to become self-directed, lifelong learners.
This type of learning is one of the most powerful teaching strategies because studies show that people learn best when they are able to create their own meaning, very much part of service learning.
In addition, inquiry based learning develops curiosity, with teachers acting as facilitators throughout the learning process, of which there are four steps:
- Students are engaged and ask questions driven by curiosity
- Students are keen to find answers and research the concept/issue
- Students show and explain what they learned
- Students reflect on lessons learned throughout the process
Students exposed to inquiry based learning:
- Become intrigued about the concept
- Ask questions
- Research the topic
- Learn more than is necessary because they are hungry to know more
- Come up with solutions and create their own opinions
- Become excited about the concept and what they’ve learned, so much so that they share it with others
- Take action because of their discoveries
- Think about what they’ve learned, the process, and how to use the same process in future
Inquiry based learning helps students learn more as opposed to traditional teaching strategies where students are expected to just listen and answer teacher questions, and as a result, not likely to inquire or ask questions.
Engagement is substantially increased, and therefore, so is the learning experience.
Checklist: guided inquiry as a framework
Guided inquiry based learning requires a framework to lead students through the learning phases, and their feelings at each stage.
The National Library of New Zealand provides a checklist:
- Open: an invitation to inquiry — interest.
- Immerse: build background knowledge — curiosity.
- Explore: explore ideas that interest the students — uncertainty.
- Identify: identify an inquiry question and decide a direction for the inquiry — optimism.
- Gather: find information from a broad range of sources and think about it broadly and deeply — confusion, frustration, doubt.
- Create: reflect on, make meaning, and create communications from the information — clarity, a sense of direction, confidence.
- Share: present the learning and learn from others — satisfaction, or disappointment.
- Evaluate: assess what was learned and whether learning goals were achieved, and reflect on the content and process — reflection.
8. Experiential learning
Most educators realize that students learn faster and retain more information when the subject matter pertains to them on a personal level, and when they take action, it makes the learning experience very personal.
The process of experiential learning involves 3 elements:
- Hands-on activity
Because they work in groups most of the time, they learn how to collaborate and work effectively with others, and the value others bring. Real-life leadership skills are learned, as well as critical thinking and how to adapt and persevere through changing circumstances, setting learners up for real life and future success.
The benefits of experiential learning
Real world experience
In most cases, students often tune out lectures if they perceive the topic as not applying to the “real world”. When students are given hands-on tasks, it makes the concept real to them. In addition, because each student has their own set of unique experiences, they will interact with the information uniquely, to make meaning and transfer to real life.
Problems usually have more than one solution, and because each student thinks differently, there may even be a few solutions if they put their heads together. Experiential learning enables creativity and problem solving which presents several ways to get to a solution.
Mistakes and FAIL’s embraced
Instead of mistakes being viewed negatively, they are embraced as valuable. Experiential learning involves trial by error and students become familiar with them as something positive. In life, this will help them be unafraid of trying new things. A FAIL is seen as First Attempt In Learning and involves risk taking.
Experiential learning requires practice, problem-solving and decision-making; this heightens engagement which leads to improved retention and accelerated learning. Practicing strengthens the neural connections in the brain, which actually makes students smarter. ‘When the brain fires, it wires’.
Experiential learning not only enhances knowledge and skills, but is so effective because it also engages the emotions. It produces more enthusiasm for learning because students see the rewards of their work and feel more fulfillment and a greater sense of pride.
More prepared for real life
By nature, this type of learning is founded on real life activities. Students discover their own skills and passions faster and these in turn, help to define their life’s path sooner.
9. Philosophy of classroom management
Effective classroom management is essential in teaching and learning. When we actively engage students, we also need to effectively manage the learning environment so students are focused on learning, and this prevents unruly distractions.
When learning is personal to students, it produces engagement and focus.
Academia says, “The best possible way to achieve required results is to manage the classroom using psychological techniques such as effective learning environment, supporting attitude of teachers, motivation, shaping desired behavior and individual analysis.
All such techniques claim interdependent success in classroom management. These include respect for student’s individuality, ability to understand and meet their needs, reliance on instruction rather than power-assertion and humanistic values generally.
Psychological techniques are systematic, organized mechanism that can contribute a lot in discipline and instructor can get desired result if they apply those techniques in a systematic way to motivate their learners”.
Service learning as a teaching and learning pedagogy using the five stages of service learning is the most effective way to bring experiential learning and service together to engage students to provide an effective way of helping community and connecting learning.
Service learning incorporates each of the nine teaching strategies covered in this article. In addition, these teaching strategies of the future by themselves, make for effective classroom management and which achieve the primary goal of any school: student achievement.
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.