Moving with the times
As we all know teaching is ever evolving and no teaching year is ever the same. Whether it be changes in the curriculum, changes to marking schemes, or introductions of new schemes, it is important to move with the times. Along with this comes adapting your teaching style accordingly. As a peripatetic teacher, I constantly vary my teaching strategies from class to class, as no class are ever the same, whilst still retaining the consistency of classroom management and what is expected in the classroom. When being in the profession for a long time, it can be oh so easy to get stuck in a rut and keep the same habits you have had since starting your career. Continuing to do what you believe is right when times in the classroom have moved on, can be counterproductive to the students learning. Think of it like ‚Äòpop stars‚Äô. The best pop stars keep reinventing themselves to stay up to date and move with the times to continuously remain in the charts‚Ä¶ Coldplay‚Ä¶ Take That‚Ä¶ Kylie Minogue‚Ä¶ even Madonna! This is all to appeal to the audience, new audiences that change from generation to generation. The classes you teach are your audience! Your year sixes like Katy Perry and Ed Sheeran and your year threes like Justin Bieber and Little Mix.
Here is a little post I found on TES website written by an English teacher from Glasgow, highlighting five warning signs to be weary of, if heading towards becoming stale in the classroom.
Five banana skins that teachers should watch out for
Teachers should be aware that, as they gain more experience, it is all too easy to slip up because of complacency and fixed-thinking
A point comes in every teacher‚Äôs career when you think you‚Äôve cracked it.
Unfortunately, experienced practitioners then have a new problem to deal with: the dangers of fixed-thinking.
Here is a list of five pitfalls that experienced teachers can fall into:
- Confirmation bias ‚Äì This is otherwise known as believing what we already think. It is easy, after many years of practice, to believe that what you have always done is the right way of doing something. We tend to have trouble believing evidence that¬†challenges this.
- Hierarchical thinking ‚Äì This is when we blithely pass responsibility for¬†a problem further up the hierarchy, assuming a solution will be forthcoming, rather than considering that a senior position does not equate with an ability to resolve everything.
- Fixation error ‚Äì This is where we keep on following the same¬†process even though it has become clear that it is no longer working. It is very easy,¬†as a¬†confident teacher, to blame the kids rather than yourself when something goes wrong and stick rigidly to favourite lesson plans.
- Outcome bias ‚Äì A favourite: we ignore small issues with our teaching as long as the result is successful.¬†I know of an established teacher in another school who has taught exactly the same novel, play and poems to his senior class for more than a decade. His notes are great and he teaches these texts really well, but what could he achieve if he catered more to the changes in young people and our greater knowledge about how people learn?
- Default mode ‚Äì During quiet days, am I alone in sometimes thinking it would be good if the pupils‚Äô started acting up? Nothing too serious, just a little to break the monotony? It happens when my mind has slipped into default mode ‚Äì which could also be called daydreaming mode. This can have serious consequences for car drivers and airline pilots ‚Äì it is not ideal for educators either.
For five suggested solutions see this week‚Äôs TES magazine, or click here¬†(free to subscribers).¬†This week’s¬†TES¬†magazine is available in all good newsagents.¬†To download the digital edition, Android users can¬†click here¬†and iOS users can¬†click here
Gordon Cairns is an English and Forest School teacher in Glasgow