Just as the waters of the ocean constantly reshape and alter the face of a beach, the methods tools and practices of educators should be ever evolving. Nothing lasts forever, or should always be the same.
There have been many calls for change, reform,restructuring and growth in current educational practices. I am not going to argue with with that, as change has its benefits. However I am going to call it something different, I am going to call it Evolving. The reason for the different term is simple. Change to me means doing something completely differently, for example to change direction is to go the other way. However, evolving to me means keeping the positive aspects or traits, getting rid of the negative and then incorporating new and possibly increasingly positive ones.
I guess this raises the question “Have I or my Teaching evolved.” In my opinion and maybe in those of some of my previous colleagues, YES. Obviously the tools and technology that I use in my classroom have changed but that was a completely different post. Many of my practices and routines within the classroom have evolved, except for three very important concepts, relationships, sharing and always learn. I also doubt that any educators would or could argue that those three should evolve.
As, I look back, so many aspects of my practices and routines have evolved, but without going into a thesis size post I will list some of the elements that I believe have been the most beneficial to my students.
Classroom Volume: I used to believe that a quiet classroom was a functional classroom, that theory was quickly destroyed, as I quickly learned that hearing the students voices meant they were participating and interactive. If they weren’t then chances were some were off topic.
Individual Work: Although I still give out individual assignments and tasks, students are not expected to do them independently sitting at their desks. Over the years I have found that Cooperative Learning or peer mentor-ship is as useful and beneficial as one-to-one time with a student. Also that students sometimes have their own language that makes explaining and understanding easier.
Classroom Setup: My first years teaching, I had the most perfect lines and rows that you would have thought I used a laser pointer to put them together. Understanding and Evolution has proved to me that out of all the possible arrangements a class could have that rows are the least effective. I now use groups, pairs a horse shoe table, a computer center and individual work areas. Biggest evolution, students have chairs of their own, tables and locations change dependent on the lesson at hand.
Finally student assessment, planning and progression: I believe that this area is probably how I have most effectively evolved and benefited the student that I work with. Although, I try to keep pace with the progression of the curriculum, I will not proceed to a different object until I am satisified that all of my students are comfortable with it. If I have to spend and extra lesson working on it I will.
Many say that the face of education, the practices and the formats NEED to change, in my opinion it is not change, it is the growth, and evolution of education that must happen. There are some great practices and concepts, that already exist and there are some great ideas, innovations and concepts coming to education. To be the most effective and proactive an educator must encorporate the best of the everything. I hope to one day look back and reflect and see that I, over my years of teaching evolve many times.
How have you evolved.