Flexibility and Adaptability: the ability to adapt as needed, to not follow a rigid plan and realize that lessons often do not go the way you intended. Being a flexible teacher means that you are more likely to meet the needs of your students as you adjust the learning in response to student needs rather than ‘covering’ a checklist of predesigned activities.
Tip: Let the planning be organic, flexible and develop in response to student needs within a planned overview. The less planning there is at the beginning (recording possible ideas is fine) the more likely the possibilities for adapting the learning.
Co-constructing meaning: co-construct meaning with your students. Provide opportunities for students to be involved in their own learning and make decisions about it. Whether through enabling them to follow their interests or ensuring they are continually building their own knowledge and understanding, student voice is critical to meaningful learning.
Tip: Teachers who co-construct with their students involve student’s ideas, thoughts and questions in their own planning.
Challenging: continually challenge students regardless of where they are in their learning. By knowing what a student knows, understands and can do at the beginning of the learning is key is to ensure learning provides challenges and direction for moving forward. It is not just about giving students more work it is about giving them different challenges that will move them on in their understanding and knowledge.
Tip: Developing ways to gather students prior knowledge and understanding is essential if you are going to challenge students. This information is then used to differentiate so all students are extended.
Connect with Purpose: ensure that the learning students are involved in, where possible, is connected to their real world, is authentic and they see the relevance of what they are learning. Opportunities need to be provided for students to see those connections so the learning is purposeful.
Tip: It is not about selecting fun activities; it is about deciding what it is you want students to learn and planning the most effective way for them to achieve this. All learning engagements need to be purposeful and meaningful and give students the ‘why’ to their learning.
Real People, Places, Objects: use resources that are real where possible as a way for students to make connections to what they are learning; real people, real experiences, real objects. If students understand that their learning is connected to the real world, it provides the purpose and enables them to see that their learning has meaning.
Tip: Use primary resources wherever possible so that students can make connections and apply their learning to the world in which they live.
Concepts: use concepts, broader ideas, as a way to connect knowledge and skills. Using broader ideas that have meaning and purpose that can be connected to the real world give students the opportunity to build their understanding of a broader and more complex idea. Concepts also provide a connection within and between learning, providing opportunities for students to develop deeper learning and understanding.
Tip: Using concepts provides opportunities for students to make connections between their classroom, across the curriculum and beyond in order to develop a deeper and ensuring understanding.
Facilitate: when organizing a learning engagement an effective teacher thinks, ‘Do I have to give students this information/understanding, or is there a way I can set up learning engagements so that they will give me the information/understanding.’ If students discover things for themselves they are far more likely to retain it. Teachers should carefully select appropriate learning engagements that encourage students thinking and allow them scope to draw their own conclusions and ideas.
Tip: Misconceptions may come out of this, which is exciting! An effective teacher will then look at the misconceptions and plan the next learning engagements as a way to address these.
Environment: develop an environment of trust, collaboration and innovation. It is in this environment where students will feel safe and emotionally ready to learn. In a culture of innovation, students understand that mistakes provide opportunity for new learning and further innovation. Students understand that together with their peers they are part of the teaching process and know that it is not about who is best, but rather how can we best support each other to further our knowledge and understanding.
Tip: Give students the opportunity to create the environment they want to be a part of and ensure that there are resources at their disposal that promote independence, thinking and curiosity. The environment is a shared environment and where appropriate, students should have a say in the way it is set up.
Feedback: provide specific feedback for improvement. Whether written or oral each time a teacher gives feedback it needs to come with meaning and purpose. Saying ‘good’ provides minimal constructive feedback. Feedback needs to be used as a way to assist students in deciding what their next steps in their leaning are. It assists students in understanding there is room for improvement.
Tip: to give specific feedback a teacher has to know exactly what it is they are looking for and the purpose of the learning. Having clear criteria as a teacher ensures that you can give clear specific feedback.
Problem Solving: not only provides opportunities for students to problem solve, but also opportunities for students to problem pose. Students who develop their own problems will be far more engaged in their learning as they are invested in finding a solution. Teachers need to develop more opportunities for students to solve their own problems, regardless whetherit is a social problem or educational problem.
Tip: Too often teachers jump in too quickly without giving students a chance to grapple with their problems and come up with possible solutions. We want students to be resilient and to not give up so we need to give them time to reach their own solutions.
Think and Reflect: get students to think, whether it is about their own learning, reflecting on how they are doing or solving a problem. Thinking is key to learning. It is essential to plan for reflection time otherwise it is often omitted or becomes an afterthought!
Tip: Use questioning as a way to get students to think. When students answer or suggest something, ask them a question that will make them think deeper about their learning. What makes you say that? How do you know? Can you elaborate on that? Good questioning is key to being a better teacher if you want to promote thinking and deeper learning.
© Innovative Global Education, 2019