In our roles as educators and teachers, we find ourselves in an ever-evolving landscape. Established teaching approaches are increasingly being sidelined, making way for innovative methodologies to take the lead. So rapid is this transformation that it’s challenging to envision what our future classrooms might look like.
Certainly, technology is a critical driver of this shift, but it’s not the sole catalyst, nor is it the ultimate solution for education. Outside environmental circumstances also significantly influence these ongoing changes in the educational realm.
Consider, for instance, the recent pandemic and the profound influence it has wielded over education. The effects of this tumultuous event continue to resonate throughout the entire educational field.
The abrupt cessation of in-person learning and the consequent upheaval induced by the far-reaching pandemic compelled the educational community to shift into an urgent crisis-response mode. For the initial weeks following the outbreak, adaptability and resourcefulness were paramount.
In the face of such an unforeseen circumstance, teachers were suddenly compelled to embrace novel approaches and modify their pedagogical practices to fit a new, drastically different context than the one before the pandemic. Remote learning swiftly became the status quo.
As underscored by the pandemic, it’s unwise to take anything for granted. What proved effective yesterday may no longer apply tomorrow, highlighting the crucial need to foster a growth-oriented mindset – one that is receptive to new concepts and continuous growth.
In this article, I will present some essential teaching practices that both novice and experienced teachers should incorporate into their professional toolkit, aimed at enhancing their instructional methods and ultimately improving student learning outcomes.
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Co-teaching is a pedagogical approach that emphasizes collaboration among teachers and, according to Hall (2017), offers a platform to a useful activity “to share and compare teaching practice and to get ideas to help make your teaching events something special” (p. 64).
In our contemporary digital era, web technologies greatly simplify the process of forging collaborative relationships among educators. For example, web and video conferencing tools serve as optimal platforms for fostering such partnerships. Applications like Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams offer features tailored for collaborative endeavors, making co-teaching an attainable practice regardless of temporal or geographical barriers.
These platforms allow real-time interactions between teachers, whether they are in the same building or in different corners of the globe. They offer a virtual space where educators can plan lessons together, share their unique teaching methods and materials, and discuss student progress and strategies for improvement. This way, each teacher can learn from the other’s experience and expertise, thereby enriching their individual teaching styles.
Furthermore, co-teaching can also have a positive impact on students. Seeing their teachers working together can foster a collaborative spirit among students, encourage them to learn from each other, and prepare them for real-world situations where teamwork is often essential.
Through co-teaching, educators can also provide more personalized attention to their students, address diverse learning styles, and offer a richer learning environment. The combined knowledge and skills of co-teachers can lead to more innovative and effective teaching strategies, thus enhancing student engagement and learning outcomes.
2- Teaching journal or portfolio
Maintaining a teaching journal or portfolio is an invaluable practice for professional development. It not only bolsters teachers’ sense of responsibility for their teaching actions but also provides a rich source of data for tracking their progress.
Over time, a teacher can assess their performance, identify effective strategies and those that fell short, and accordingly devise new methods to accommodate evolving teaching requirements.
A key component of a teaching portfolio is reflective writing, which acts as a meta-cognitive exercise. This enables teachers to attain a deeper understanding of their pedagogical knowledge and develop “ways of knowing not only about their students but also about themselves and their beliefs”(Roe & Vukelich, 1997, p. 16).
There are numerous online tools available for creating digital portfolios, check out this collection portfolio making tools to learn more. For reflective writing, Google Docs stands as a robust and user-friendly tool. I have been using it for several years to document my teaching experiences and reflections. It’s worth noting, however, that documenting one’s teaching journey isn’t limited to text. It can be achieved through a myriad of expressive mediums, offering the opportunity to capture diverse aspects of the teaching experience.
Visual mediums, such as infographics created with Canva, Adobe Spark, or Illustrator, can be instrumental in documenting teaching practices in a visually engaging manner. Video tools like Wevideo or Camtasia allow for multimedia documentation of teaching moments and reflections. Hyperlinked media, podcasts, and other digital tools can be used to create a comprehensive and multifaceted teaching portfolio that truly encapsulates your teaching journey and growth.
Therefore, a teaching portfolio, whether it is text-based or includes other forms of media, serves as a critical tool for professional development, enabling teachers to reflect, evolve, and meet the ever-changing demands of the educational landscape.
3- Formative assessment
Implementing regular formative assessments in the classroom serves as an effective method for continuously monitoring the efficacy of your teaching. Similar to reflective writing, feedback from students can offer invaluable insights into your instructional methods.
Various techniques can be employed for formative assessment activities in your class, such as surveys, questionnaires, exit tickets, open-ended questions, and game-based quizzes. A couple of straightforward yet insightful questions that can be asked at the end of each class are: “What did you learn?” and “What did you have difficulty learning?” The responses to these questions often yield profound insights about the day’s learning outcomes and challenges.
There are many digital tools available that facilitate the creation of formative assessment activities, with a personal preference for game-based platforms. Tools such as Quizalize, Blooket, Quizizz, Kahoot, and Quizlet are excellent options.
These platforms allow you to design your own gamified quizzes that can be conducted live during class or assigned as homework, allowing students to progress at their own pace. All these platforms feature a Reports section where you can access analytical data related to individual student performance and progress.
This data can be used to track your teaching effectiveness, adjust lesson plans, and develop individualized teaching strategies. Some of these platforms even provide the option to share performance reports directly with parents, enabling a transparent communication channel about student progress.
4- Hybrid teaching
Currently, hybrid teaching models are generating significant buzz in the educational arena. The post-pandemic classroom is increasingly reliant on digital resources, pushing teachers to venture beyond their comfort zones and explore new methodologies that align with the rapidly evolving educational landscape.
Hybrid teaching is an instructional approach that combines traditional in-person classes with virtual learning. As defined by the University of Edinburgh, hybrid teaching “doesn’t strictly adhere to either an on-campus or online model but is designed for easy student transition between the two.”
A hybrid teaching model includes a blend of digital and on-campus activities, enabling students to choose between attending on-campus sessions, digital sessions in the same time zone, or digital sessions in a different time zone based on their convenience and learning preferences.
Video conferencing platforms, along with tools like Google Classroom, Google Sites, Flipgrid, Wakelet, and Funbrain, are particularly beneficial for facilitating hybrid teaching. They can be used to supplement and enrich the teaching and learning experiences in the classroom.
With these tools, you can create, modify, and share video resources and flipped learning materials with your students. This method allows you to utilize classroom time for differentiated instruction and remedial work, tailoring your teaching to cater to the varying needs of your students. Students can then independently review the online materials at their own pace, providing flexibility and personalized learning opportunities.
Hybrid teaching is a mode of instruction which fuses in-class with virtual forms of instruction. Hybrid teaching, as the University of Edinburgh states, “does not assume either a fundamentally on-campus or fundamentally online model but is designed for easy student transition between the two.
5- Empower Students voice
In the realm of student-centric pedagogy, fostering student voice is of paramount importance. It involves granting students the liberty and corresponding accountability to voice their opinions and participate actively in decision-making related to their learning, both inside and outside the classroom. Students thrive when they feel valued, and their learning experience is enriched when they are actively involved in the learning process.
The act of empowering student voice inherently instills a sense of ownership of their learning in students. I contend that voice and accountability are closely intertwined; the privilege to express oneself is complemented by the duty of managing one’s learning journey.
A plethora of digital tools and platforms can be employed to bolster student voice. A personal favorite is Flipgrid Shorts, which enables students to record and share content-rich videos with others, thereby creating a collaborative learning environment where each student’s thoughts and ideas can be heard and respected. To explore more strategies and tools to empower student voice, consider reading “Educational Tools and Strategies to Empower Students Voice“.
Ultimately, encouraging student voice is about valuing their perspectives, promoting active participation, and fostering a sense of responsibility. It is a crucial step towards creating a more inclusive and engaging learning environment, one that truly puts students at the heart of the learning process.
1- What is hybrid teaching (University of Edinburgh, Information Services)
2- Jenny Hall (2017) Developing Teaching Best Practice—Pedagogy, Preferences, and Professional Development, International Information & Library Review, 49:1, 59-64, DOI: 10.1080/10572317.2017.1270692
4- Mary F. Roe & Carol Vukelich (1997) That Was Then and This Is Now: A Longitudinal Study of Teachers’ Portfolio Practices, Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 12:1, 16-26, DOI: 10.1080/02568549709594712.