What are factors that demand shift in teaching pedagogies?
Middle schools are most affected with indiscipline and lack of focus among students and poor academic performance. The key reasons identified by experts is the transition from intermediate school to middle school and puberty stage of development. Both impact the behaviour and emotional instability of the teenagers. Approach of teachers do impact students’ social and emotional state, along with their academic participation and performance (Juvonen, Le, Kaganoff, Augustine, & Constant, 2004). If I find any student not able to concentrate and participate, as a teacher, I first try identify if there could be any alternative approach to help my student concentrate instead of blaming the student only, which most of us tend to conclude and react. Shift in teaching and learning culture, structure, and programmes is required today to handle these areas of student development (Aydin, Ozfidan, Carothers, 2017).
An effective teacher is one who is regular, yet innovative, and approachable to their students. Their first objective is to accept diversity and create a student-centric learning environment, be planned and demonstrate classroom management effectively. Middle school teachers need to be highly proficient in their subject and be equipped with handling adolescent issues (McEwin, & Thomason, 1989). Regular professional development would provide focus and help align the performance standards. Encouraging global research on innovative pedagogies would provide diverse strategies to foster student wellbeing and positive learning ambience (Juvonen, et.al., 2004). Teachers need to ‘set realistic and appropriate goals and provide meaningful and immediate feedback. They incorporate more opportunities for students to be active learners and, in general, have more coherent, content presentations’ (McCormick, 1979; cited from McEwin, & Thomason, 1989; pg. 12)
A diverse community of students in classroom should be considered as a celebration for every student is important, so teachers need to not get influenced with their own prejudices and opinions that could impact student’s learning experience. Hence, while working on the instructional design teachers need to work on three principles – noticing, flexibility, and building self-esteem (Lombardi, 2018). As teachers we need to keep ourselves updated about the changes that are driven by political, traditional, social, emotional, and predilections. Convert resources as a medium to connect with communities, relate and build values, encourage students to consider the diversity and richness their environment provides, for these allow us to build holistic learning in and outside the school (Lombardi, 2018).
The new shift in education is evident through the revived National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 that is focusing on regular upgradation of teachers, preparing them to have a learner’s mindset which hopefully would be transferred to the students. NEP 2020 emphasises that teachers being key nation builders need to possess one of the key attributes, i.e., passion for knowledge and lifelong learning attitude. Other attributes expected in teachers is the ability to listen and integrate subjects thus encouraging students to look beyond the subject and connect the learning to real-life experiences (Das, 2021).
Table of Contents:
- What are factors that demand shift in teaching pedagogies?
- Why is there a need for teachers today to innovate their pedagogies?
- What are the factors that affect teachers’ pedagogical choices?
- Working on the work
- Being the Change Agent
- The three strategies to work with Ritchhart’s beliefs and their outcome are:
Innovation is nothing but welcoming change, from having students democratically vote on the classroom rules (Harmon, 2017), to simply doing away with a top-down curriculum and allowing students to engage with what interests them (Lynch, 2016), to providing scope for students to interact with peers and the teacher being more of a facilitator (Freire, 1970, 1993). Innovation education helps prepare students for a dynamic workplace, develop creativity, adaptability, and resilience. Teachers can leverage innovation in education to improve student outcomes from a purely academic standpoint as well as to develop skills that students need to succeed and sustain.
In education-innovation every stakeholder has a role to play (Juvonen, et.al, 2004). Innovation requires to think differently and develop creative strategies to enhance students’ interests and derive lessons from a myriad of different perspectives, approaches, and understandings. This means that students are presented with many different learning opportunities to engage with content and expand their understanding of multiple concepts (Stéphan, Joaquin, Soumyajit, & Gwénaël, 2019). As teachers we need to draw upon relevant cultural, social, technological, and academic resources to create a learning environment; provide meaningful learning experiences; develop twenty-first-century skills – collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and creativity (Binkley, Erstad, Herman, Raizen, Ripley, Miller-Ricci, & Rumble, 2012).
One of the reasons for teachers to fail handling middle school students is them not accepting and adapting to early adolescent transitions in their students. More than the facilities and the ambience of the school, it is the teachers’ personality and projection that makes an impression on the developing minds. Another reason could be lack of subject-matter proficiency and formal training on handling adolescent students. Untrained teachers fail to prepare students to thrive in a global community of the twenty-first century (Dilshad, Hussain, & Batool, 2019). Some teachers are even unprepared to accept diversity and minority, inclusive, and at-risk students in their class. Many still continue to appreciate teacher-centric approach to teaching and focus more on academic and institutional objectives. Teachers thus fail to provide a productive, challenging and purposeful learning zone. Teachers need to necessarily be less demanding in terms of academic performance and behaviour (McEwin, & Thomason, 1989).
Apart from teachers restricting themselves, lack of technical know-how, leadership support, and personal limitations – capacity, capability, and family challenges discourage mentally, physically, and emotionally teachers to think of a shift from routine. The comfort gets challenged which most of us prefer not to give up for a new change. The other most important trigger that could influence teachers from not accepting and adopting change is financial gains. Most teachers, in India are not paid as they should be and also constantly under threat of losing their jobs. Additionally, they are also hardly acknowledged as able contributors to the nation building, lack dignity, and work in unhealthy conditions (Bose, 2021).
In today’s time school innovation is based on four fundamental elements: people, knowledge, processes, and the use of technology (Educo, 2021). The top-down approach could restrict promoting new concepts, attitudes, and practices among teachers. Hence, the leadership need to realise and influence teachers to innovate and enhance their competencies to achieve institutional and socio-economic objectives. Also, leadership need to encourage an easy, systematic, and scalable transition during the evolution (Serdyukov, 2017). Teachers need to realise that shift in teaching and learning process allows students to develop cognitive ability, making them responsible and enjoy learning and acquiring high skills and knowledge.
National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 of India focuses on education reforms at every level specifically on strengthening the teacher professional development training and restructuring the education regulatory framework. The teacher community assessment reflected poor performance rate and so compulsory 50 hours of professional training every year has been introduced (Chetwani, 2020). This will encourage teachers to think out of the box giving them scope to explore diverse pedagogies including experiential, holistic, integrated, inquiry-driven, discovery-oriented, learner-centred, discussion-based, flexible, and, of course, enjoyable (Sharma, & Gupta, 2021).
The revived NEP 2020 also focuses upon building empathy among teachers and pay a vital role in directing their understanding, emotions, and abilities in order to be self-driven learners beyond classrooms. A two-way communication is the most engaging tool with equal application of experiential learning and critical thinking through hands-on learning, integration of sports and art, and collaborating with parents is essential. Role of a teacher should necessarily shift from being the Google to collaborating with students as researchers. Encouraging teachers’ community to work as a group will drive exchange of ideas, evolve innovative teaching methodologies, and share responsibilities (Das, 2021). All these as a policy have been identified and accordingly are the training needs towards teacher development and sustainability.
As teachers we could encourage our students to understand and interpret (Sharma, & Gupta, 2021). For this, student needs to learn to refer their past knowledge and also directed to look at the reality, the situation and its context. The learning beyond information and focusing on creativity and reasoning ability lost due to the hierarchical approach in school, with power play between teachers and students (Mehra, 2021) should be overcome by teachers.
Reflection exercise among teachers and in the classroom, leading to critical consciousness, is a powerful tool to reflect on the progress of the individual in terms of knowledge, awareness, and whether one can participate in the global context and be part of the world (Kochar, 2020). This also allows students to not only listen to perspectives but could help understand and excite them to explore the view and the subject further. This very desire to explore leads to building imagination and thereby, creative skills in students. Raising consciousness through critical questioning; having a sensible and constructive dialogue among students leading to creative thinking, and developing impatience and vivacity among students (Leonard, P., & McLaren, P. (Eds.)., 1992) would be the fundamental way of projecting the benefit of innovation. According to Tylo Lewis (2012), experimental classrooms initiate imagination and perspectives allow students to translate diverse thoughts at global and local levels and current possibility, thereby sensing the world differently. Experimenting could disrupt harmony and interrupt academic progress but encourages cognitive ability which is what as teachers we need to focus.
Respect is not only about being approachable, acknowledging, and being appreciative of the differences. But respect is also towards self in terms of mental and physical wellbeing. Respect is also about acknowledging and maintaining self-identity. This can be imparted through teacher’s behaviour in terms of being open-minded and optimistic. Through reflection exercise, discussing and affirming differences could help students look beyond the differences in physical attributes and appreciate the differences in thinking and approach. Apart from reflection, story-telling could drive this understanding of respect and purpose to the students. Teachers sharing stories could help students note the similarities while they grow with complex identities. Providing each student, the social and emotional needs help build a culture of respect among the classmates (Teaching Students How to Respect Cultural Diversity, 2022).
Inviting parental involvement provides a conducive learning environment at home. Teachers need to necessarily exchange with and guide parents into emotional, mental, and physical development of the child, especially during the adolescent stage. School leaders and teachers need to reflect that parents too play a critical role in student’s academic performance and role construction – character building and social and professional grooming. Encouraging parent participation in home work or projects will also elicit child-parent relationship. Thus, Parental involvement will drive parents and teachers towards self-efficacy and influence positively student development (Hoover‐Dempsey, Walker, Sandler, Whetsel, Green, Wilkins, & Closson, 2005).
However, teacher has to begin with building his/her belief in the approach to creating a teaching-learning environment. This belief is not related to religious or cultural beliefs but belief in one’s perspective towards education. For this, the teachers can start by choosing one of the five beliefs that Ritchhart (2015) to create a learning culture in the classroom. Though the impact of these beliefs as action theories could vary with the style of approach and situation, it is worth an effort, for it has the ability to create a culture of thinking, resulting into student-centric approach. The one belief that I wish to work upon and implement in the classroom is – Developing a growth vs. a fixed mind set. This belief reflects the ultimate goal of ‘growth’. Growth is development, of an individual in terms of capability, capacity, ability, skill, mental, physical and emotional development based on rationality. The belief is of preparing students to look at any situation or task as a challenge and an opportunity to learn from it. The shift of the focus is from failure to learning. (Ritchhart, 2015). This in turn does not have a negative impact as the student’s concentration is into discovering or investigation or experiencing. This is one main life skill that an individual must possess in order to face any situation or circumstances in life.
- As teachers, we must first believe in the belief and imbibe those characteristics of looking at life as an experience or learning. Prepare ourselves to derive lessons and realise that something has been achieved from the whole exercise. The belief then allows teachers to look at their class as an opportunity of knowing different individuals and their mindsets. Since mindsets develop with interactions and the experiences derived out of it, influencing mindsets is then possible for teachers to help the student develop. (Ritchhart, 2015). Patience and pleasantness will be reflected from the interactions which will have positive influence on the students. Teachers would accordingly design their lesson plan to accommodate every learner in the class.
- The belief also encourages parental collaboration with teachers in order to create the suitable environment for growth mind set. Discuss and share the belief with the parents, encouraging them to act accordingly. Though it may not be their primary belief, yet parent love will help them develop the belief. Maybe this influence on parents to develop their growth mindset will be visible while handling their ward in order to have positive response from the ward.
- Share the belief with the other teachers and classmates to create a positive environment in and outside the classroom. Sharing this outlook could help build the belief system of other teachers for the class and other classes thereby making it a culture of the school in order to build a positive environment across the school building. It could also reflect from the way the procedures and/or rules are framed and the consequences are identified. Yes, it will reflect more flexibility and less uniformity in terms of consequences but it will help the student grow in a positive frame thereby making him/her participate in the classroom constructively.
The sense of belonging is not only linked to ethnic and cultural traditions or religious and political movements, but are mostly linked to social equations and practices that can be directly observed, thereby structuring lives of immigrant students or students from community in minority (Bauböck, 2006). Teachers if resilient can accommodate diversity into their teaching and demonstrate critical reflexivity by influencing diverse perspectives through participation and demonstrating it through the environment they create for optimum learning (Brisk, Barnhardt, Herrera, & Rochon, 2002).
Today every experienced and dedicated educator feels the need to grow and be innovative in his or her approach to teaching. A shift from teacher-centric to student-centered learning is necessary, allowing students to disrupt and evolve as more aware and confident individuals and professionals. However, the failure in providing this very foundation is failure in experimenting and innovating pedagogies that are student friendly and dynamic. The willingness of collaboration among teachers and the inability to involve parents could be major factors for failure.
All the above strategies, innovations are only possible when we as teachers realise and respect our role. We as teachers realise that we are the changemakers, we can bring the change the world needs through the future generation. Hence, it is very important that as teachers while we need to fight for our rights, we need to earn the dignity towards our profession. But this can be possible only when we respect ourselves and our work, and deliver the expected not only by our office, but by our students and parents who will be our future ambassadors and get our profession the recognition in every form.
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