As teachers and educators, we are in a constant state of flux. Traditional ways of teaching are taking backstage while new emerging methodologies are thrusted to the forefront. In fact, the educational landscape is changing so fast that it is hard to predict what our classrooms will be like in the near future.
Technology is definitely a key factor in this change but is not the only one, and certainly not the silver bullet of education. External environmental factors also have their say in what is happening in the education sector. Think about the current pandemic and the seismic impact it has on education, an impact whose ripples are still reverberating across the educational spectrum.
School closures and the widespread disruption caused by the sweeping outbreak sent the education community into emergency and crisis management mode where improvisation, at least during first few weeks of the outbreak, reigned.
Teachers were suddenly face to face with an unprecedented situation where they had to adopt new strategies and adapt their teaching practices to a new environment, one that is totally different from the pre-pandemic environment. Virtual teaching has become the new normal.
As the pandemic taught us, nothing is to be taken for granted. What used to work yesterday might not work tomorrow hence the importance of cultivating a growth mindset, one that is critically open to new ideas and expansion.
In this post, I am sharing with you some of the key teaching practices that teachers, new and seasoned, need to incorporate into their professional practice in order to optimize their instructional pedagogy and enhance their students learning.
Co-teaching, as Hall (2017) stated, is ” a useful activity to share and compare teaching practice and to get ideas to help make your teaching events something special (p. 64). Co-teaching enhances teachers reflective practice and enables them to enrich and expand their professional development. Web technologies makes it super easy for teachers to seek out collaborative opportunities with other teachers. For instance, web and video conferencing tools are great platforms where such collaboration can take place. Tools such as Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams offer collaborative features that facilitate co-teaching across different temporal and geographical boundaries.
2- Teaching journal or portfolio
Keeping a teaching portfolio is an effective professional development practice. Besides enhancing teachers’ sense of accountability toward their teaching, it also provides them with a treasure trove of data to use to track their progress, analyze their performance over the years, identify what works and what did not and why, and design new strategies to meet emerging instructional needs.
Reflective writing is an important element in teachers portfolio. It is a meta-cognitive act that allows teachers to develop a heightened sense of awareness about their ‘ways of knowing not only about their students but also about themselves and their beliefs”(Roe & Vukelich, 1997, p. 16).
There are several web tools teachers can use to create digital portfolios, Google Sites is my favourite tool in this regard. Check out Google Sites guide to learn more about how to tap into the educational potential of this platform.
As for reflective writing, Google Docs is definitely my go-to tool. I have been using it for reflective writing for a number of years now. However, documenting one’s teaching experiences does not have to be exclusively text-based, it can also be realized through other expressive media such as through visuals and infographics (e.g., Canva, Adobe Spark, and Illustrator), video (e.g., Wevideo and Camtasia), hyperlinked media, podcasts, and many more.
3- Formative assessment
Conducting frequent formative assessments in class is a great way to keep constant check on your teaching efficacy. Like reflective writing, students feedback can provide you with valuable insights regarding your instructional practices.
Surveys, questionnaires, exit tickets, open ended questions, game-based quizzes, among others, are all forms of questions that you can use to design formative assessment activities in your class. Indeed, I am always surprised at the amount of insights the two questions below generate when asked at the end of class:
What did you learn? What did you have difficulty learning?
While there are many web tools to help you create formative assessment activities, I a particular predilection for game-based platforms such as Quizalize, Blooket, Quizizz, Kahoot, and Quizlet. You can use these tools to create your own gamified quizzes to host live in your class for every student to take or you can assign them as homework for students to work at their own pace. All of these tools have a Reports section where you can access analytic stats regarding individual students performance and progress. Some of these platforms even let you share performance reports directly with parents.
4- Hybrid teaching
Presently, hybrid modes of instruction are the hype in education. Digitality is now becoming a key player in the pos-pandemic classroom and teachers are required to get out of their comfort zone and start experimenting with new ways of making their teaching live up to the rapidly changing circumstances.
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. Hybrid teaching will consist of a mixture of digital and on-campus activities, where students may be able to attend on-campus sessions, digital sessions in the same time zone, or digital sessions in a different time zone.”
Video conferencing platforms and tools such as Google Classroom, Google Sites, Flipgrid, Wakelet, Funbrain, are especially promising in this regard and can be used to supplement and reinforce teaching/learning that takes place in class. You can use them to create, edit and share video resources and flipped learning materials with your students while devoting class time to differentiated instruction and remedial work.
5- Empower Students voice
At the core of student-centered pedagogy is the empowerment of students voice, that is, the practice of providing students with the freedom (and associated responsibility) to express their opinions and take part in the decision-making process regarding their learning in and out of class. Students love it when they know their voice is valued and that they have a say in their learning.
With the freedom of expressing their voice comes the responsibility of taking ownership of their learning. Voice and accountability, I argue, go hand-in-hand and are intricately connected with each other.
There are numerous web tools and platforms that you can use with students to empower their voice. Flipgrid Shorts is my favourite. It allows students to record videos layered with content to share with others. Read Educational Tools and Strategies to Empower Students Voice for more ideas and tips.
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.
This post was last updated in December, 2021.