New Teaching and Learning Approaches

More than 100,000 page views made us at SchoolEducation.Com think how teaching has changed, is changing and will keep changing. New learning approaches and innovation in teaching made us venture out to explore the idea of collaborating with the teaching community and understand what it means to put in place a Change Creation System.

Many teaching approaches of earlier times predate much of the scientific knowledge about learning and intellectual development. The processes and day-to-day work limits the time in hand with the teachers. The information explosion and the unlimited supply of data makes learning a bigger challenge, where do we start and how do we make learning more meaningful.

Teachers need to think, inquire, plan, modify and test new teaching and learning approaches. The quest for learning is a hunger, a passion and the more we share the more we learn. Learning theory (education) as per Wikipedia is a conceptual framework that describes how information is absorbed, processed, and retained during learning. Cognitive, emotional, and environmental influences, as well as prior experience, all play a part in how understanding, or a world view, is acquired or changed, and knowledge and skills retained.

In Schools can Change the authors state that the leaning teacher cannot ignore research, including research analysis, behaviour analysis, collaborate in learning, reflect, stimulate learning strategies and must be subject to assessment and tested for use of technology. 

The schools generally follow a cycle of work in their course of the year. This will often leave any scope to experiment and learn, we end up as a mere 'assembly line' in manufacturing parlance. There is the inherent need for a five-step process to make a break through and put in place a Change Creation System.

First, all the faculty and leaders in the school must identify the learning needs and form action teams. At a rural English medium school the leadership set itself a goal of making their school the 'best English medium school in the area'. This need gave a direction for the action teams to move ahead and explore how this was to be made possible. Action teams were created for understanding student needs and the needs of the teachers.

Second step involved that action team set out to create an action plan. The areas of focus included training of faculty to delivery better, use of technology and mapping of the needs of the students. 

Third step was the implementing of the inquiry areas to change and practice and improve student learning. While the needs of the teachers and their challenges were the key focus, at no stage could the goal of helping learning and quality delivery in the classroom could be compromised.

Fourth step involves the assessment of impact of action teams' work on teacher practice and student learning.

Fifth step involved the sharing of results and best practices across the school and applying lessons learned.

Right Leadership (understands the vision) and kick starts the change creation process, when we experiment with new teaching and learning approaches, the outcome will be improved student learning. The cycle will grow and the concentric circles of the process will help us build our unique teaching and learning approaches.

Teachers through systemic efforts may change assumptions about their self-esteem and professionalism. Like doctors, lawyers our teachers are real professionals and we must encourage them to take more responsibility of action. They are not a mere process or a system, but are the real change makers.

Teaching and learning are simply two sides of the same coin, and can never work in isolation. Most important point is that in the learning environment our currency is young people, and this makes the delivery process most crucial. We have to test ourselves and ensure we do our home work, not just absolve ourselves from our position of learners first and put the onus on our pupils, who by force of circumstance have to resort of byhearting (rote learning that Indian school children often recourse to).

Byhearting or understanding? Some students are good when it comes to byhearting all the study material for exams, where as some others perform better during exams when they understand the concept. Which of these do you find better to do? New teaching and learning approaches are always in a dilemma, as to the needs and the abilities of the students. We must never loose sight of the fact that in the world where we have an overload of information and access has become easy over the years, teachers will have to use innovative ways to help their pupils learn. If a teacher has to earn,  she or he must first learn!

Disciplined leaders and teachers align with the schools' vision, and have a clear understanding of who they are and where they are going. For any consistent framework to deliver, it is imperative that the experiments in learning are not looked as a simple cost, but as an opportunity cost to deliver new teaching and bringing about a paradigm shift in the way we deliver learning in a classroom. New teaching and learning approaches are most crucial for innovation, and as mentioned above we often get too absorbed in the process of the school delivery cycle. In our quest of profit maximising we often do not invest enough in new ways of knowledge delivery. Please note simply investing in technology is not the solution, for any learning to build up there is the need for the action teams to reflect within and look at their future as professional learners and not mere teachers.

Teachers learn best when they work together to solve common problems. You may consider to join the Learning Forward’s network of teacher leaders and get resources, tools, strategies, and access to committed colleagues willing to share their expertise and experience to develop solutions to the issues you're facing in your school and classroom. Schools Can Change, and this is only possible when new teaching and learning become the DNA of the organisation.

1.Schools Can Change by Lick, Clauset & Murphy
2. LearningForward.Org

This article is presented by Sandeep Dutt and you can email him on please.

Schools Can Change