How to change the way you teach by someone who is...

How do you change the way you teach? It is a slow process but it is possible.

When a new curriculum is implemented how to you integrate it?
When a new pedagogy is doing the rounds even if it is a rebranded old idea how do you implement it? Should you adopt every idea? 


What are your goals, both personally and for your class?
This question can't be completely be answered until you know your class, your school, your parents. What are your professional goals?

After reviewing your personal, professional goals and those of your school community write them down.
Mine are:
  1. Continual growth and learning for my students and myself
  2. Enjoyment of learning and relationships
  3. Real life learning for students
  4. Academic improvement


Now you have your goals consider the different pedagogical styles and how they might help you achieve your goals?

There are so many pedagogical styles and educational theories. How do you know which one is right? Many of the teaching styles and learning theories go round in circles as fashion and research focus changes. You need to find the teaching style that suits you and your students, be prepared to change over time to meet the changing needs of the classroom. There is not one correct way to teach or learn. So find a teaching style that is hopefully research based and works for you and your students in your school context. You will know it works if your students are engaged, happy, and demonstrating their learning.

Engaging teachers will have the needs of their students at the centre of each lesson. This may require change over time. Reviewing practise is an essential part of teaching.

Teaching Practise

Image result for lesson not going to planIt doesn't matter what you are teaching or how experienced you are. Everyone has lessons that don't go to plan. 
Whether it be a technology lesson, outdoor ed or maths. There are various reasons for failed lessons: 
  • technology failed
  • lack of planning
  • lack of scaffolding
  • lack of time 
  • you forgot to bring a key resource 
  • the students didn't understand
  • interruptions
To improve my teaching after evaluating the lesson and before I reteach the lesson, I usually do one or more of the following:
  • review my planning, scaffolds, questions and activity
  • ask for help
  • find or make a new scoffold/resource that explains it better
  • observe a colleague
  • team teach with a colleague
Remember it is important to reteach a failed lesson whether it be the same way or a similar lesson in a different format. This will help your confidence and reinforce student understanding. This is particularly important if the lesson failed due to external forces such as technology, interruptions, time and the lesson was not finished.

Changing your pedagogy

Changing your pedagogy can be time consuming and a work of passion. You will need to rethink how you present your topics, how you scaffold and even classroom management. It can take years to master. You may not be in a position to truely implement your ideal teaching style but feel free to mix and match to make it work for you. You may find your interests, passion and teaching style do not always match with the school ethos or school standards.

For example I remember teaching a series of digital art lessons to year 4 several years ago before there was a "design and technology" requirement, only to be told this was not "Art". 
While the topic was not traditional art with paints and brushes it definitely taught:
  1. Visual Arts outcomes
  2. Art design concepts 
  3. It engaged a different group of students in art 
  4. Introduced digital art forms as a new artistic style such as those used by Graphic Novels, Pixar and Disney. 
  5. It taught design concepts and creativity
  6. Taught concepts around vector graphics, pixel art, run length encoding all art in the world of computer science
  7. Engaged the students 
  8. Taught ICT Capabilities that no other primary teacher was teaching.

If there is a teacher experimenting with their craft it is important we support rather than criticise them. It takes a variety of teachers to reach the needs of many students. I have had parents tell me their child thinks Mr/s X is wonderful, when I couldn't understand their teaching methods and didn't agree. This shows how important it is to allow every teacher to create their own classroom environment. It is also important to match students to the teachers we think will engage them.

Finally it is truely important to experience multiple schools and multiple principals. It can make all the difference to your enjoyment of the job. All schools bring a different culture and different opportunities and it is important to find one that complements your own teaching style and personality.

Leaders have a huge responsibility to care for the wellbeing and development of teachers and students. Unfortunately there are many leaders lacking the emotional intelligence to lead effectively. I would like to think leaders approach their position of leadership as a privilege not a right and understand the responsibility and influence they have over the health, wellbeing and educational and professional growth of those they lead.