Monday, 26 March 2018

Tackling Disruption in Education

Education is evolving and it is changing at a very fast rate indeed! One of the greatest challenges for educators today is how to handle this change that is disruptive in nature. It is an accepted fact that digital disruption is a fact that has to be accepted. Educators cannot afford to be secure in their belief that they are experts in their fields whether it is in their subject areas, or for that effect, teaching strategies. Rightly enough, students will have done research in the lesson before coming in for the class, and different classes of the same grade will require varied teaching strategies. While student-directed learning is a safe bet in some cases, in others, the teacher needs to take up a more direct role. With digital learning becoming a reality, one needs to be open to the immense possibilities for collaboration, and research work. The opportunity for online learning and online learning portals, one needs to keep working on strategies and learning modules that can continue to offer something new to the learners. It is indeed a challenge to be one step ahead of the learners, however, it should not be a matter of disgrace to accept being told about new discoveries and new things that one might not have been aware of.

How then, does an Educator Tackle Disruption in Education?

Be a lifetime learner!
One cannot, as an educator be confident about being a master of one's subject. What was learned in school and college will have lost its edge because of the very fact that education is evolving at a very fast rate. To keep up with the pace of development in education, one needs to be a constant learner. One needs to research about new discoveries in the subject and also learn about new strategies in education that integrate digital learning. One needs to be tech-savvy, and one needs to develop appropriate research skills. Collaborate with other educators and discuss new strategies with them. Share lesson ideas and be prepared to learn from others. Share resources, internet links and share your failures and victories with them. Be open to learning new things, new ways to make the lesson interesting. Join Pinterest and share pins.

Use Technology in class!
Don't hesitate to carry your laptop into class. Fall back on it to research the latest in class. Most progressive experiential schools equip their classrooms with a projector and a wifi connection. When a class becomes a little tedious, show the students a video linked to the subject being taught. In order to use technology effectively, the educator will have to be able to fall back on necessary resources, internet links that he can use to make the class more interesting.

Mix teaching strategies experiment with those that work the best in class!
Never ever use the same strategy throughout the teaching period. A class discussion should be followed by a written task which in turn should be followed by some kind of a formative assessment, not necessarily a pen and paper test. Have a brain-storming session, and then follow it with some time for the students to note down their observations. Give the students in each group separate stanzas of a poem, ask them to annotate the stanza and then deliver a presentation. Alternately, tell them to draw a mind-map or diagramme with labels on a chart and then tell them to put up their posters in a sequence on the display board. Organise a learning walk so that the students get to see what the other groups have written. For literature lessons, students can be encouraged to do a role play or a present a skit on the poem or short story.

Be prepared for the unexpected!
You are excited about using a new strategy or have an exciting video you want to show the class, but then the wifi is not working, or worse of all, the students are zoned out since they have already attended so many classes; they are simply drained out! It could also be that it has started to rain and the weather is really nice! It could also be that you are not feeling so good yourself and have a headache. In such a case, you might as well ask the class to work on a mindmap on the green-board based on the big idea of the lesson without actually starting the lesson. Or you could even ask the class to play a guessing game. Do anything as long as it is connected directly or indirectly with the lesson or topic of the day! Have a backup plan for a lesson that does not go as expected.

Anchor your lessons with the learning target or expectations for the day!
Irrespective of what happens in class, the learners should be aware of the expectations for the lesson. Learning Targets begin with 'I can...' statements. Learning targets can come in the beginning or for that effect in the middle of the lesson. Sometimes it would be a good idea to let students frame their own learning targets. In case these are too diverse, you can have a brief discussion and a vote for the best two or three learning outcomes that encapsulate the objective of the lesson for the day.

Give clear instructions to students (these include the class protocols for the day)!
Students should know what they are supposed to do in a particular class. The instructions for group work, processes, voice levels and discussion strategies should be made clear at the outset of the class. So, if each group is to enact a particular scene, then what is it that they are expected to depict, what is the big idea or the theme you want them to enact. If it is a presentation of a poem, then give specific stanzas to each group, number the group and give them a poetry analysis check-list.

When everything fails, become a student!
When everything fails, remember that you are more of a student than an instructional machine. Having the right attitude, accepting failure as an excuse to learn, having a growth mindset and accepting vulnerability will go a long way in making you achieve success. Learn to be authentic, if you don't have an answer for a particular question, it is alright to tell your learners that you don't have an answer just then, though you will come back with one later. Let each class be a learning for you. When nothing works then follow the Review, Revise, and Return strategies. Your teaching strategy might need reviewing or revising. In some cases, an older strategy might be more effective one than the exciting one you have just tried. Learn to experiment and adapt.

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