Stop using these old go-tos; we share our favorites instead.
No matter how enlightened we become in our teacher training, it’s easy to fall into the rut of teaching the way we were taught. The problem is, not all of yesterday’s teaching tactics can be relied upon, and some are downright ineffective. Here are a few techniques we’re giving the boot — and some stellar best-practice alternatives.
Punishing the whole class
This one goes hand in hand with sheer common sense. Think back: you’ve been the kid who’s trying to behave amidst classroom chaos. It’s simply not fair that you had to miss recess when you were following all of the rules. Collective punishment is a tempting threat — we hope that if we threaten to take something away from the entire class, the perpetrators of poor behavior will be afraid to “ruin it for everyone else.” Unfortunately, this often doesn’t work, and we’re faced with following through with our given consequence. In the end, the well-behaved students are left jilted, and the culprits are weighed down with a second, heavier result — tainted peer relationships.
A better option is to step back and take a hands-on approach to heading off whole-classroom pandemonium. If this is a rare occurrence, take a minute to reflect on what might be setting such a large group of students awry, and make thoughtful alterations to the present lesson to put students back on track. If your schoolroom often feels like a zoo are indicative of a larger classroom management problem. Consider the unique makeup of your current classroom, and differentiate your lesson plans to create more focus and engagement. Take time to go back to basics. Review and reestablish class rules and routines. Nip small disturbances in the bud.
So you’ve taught a lesson once, and a few students mastered the content while others need some more practice. You can’t possibly work one-on-one with each kid, and using your advanced kiddos to help those that are behind seems like a win-win situation: The kids needing more help get it, and the advanced kids learn the material extra well, right?
Don’t do it! Research shows that peer tutoring holds advanced students back and prevents them from optimizing their potential — totally unfair. (Read more on why we need to challenge our high-ability students here!)
A better route to take? Differentiate by grouping the students who mastered the content together and allowing them to explore the topic at deeper, more challenging levels. While they’re given the independent opportunity to learn new, exciting content that will challenge them, you’re freed up to work with students who still need to master the standard at hand. Now that’s a win-win.
Using outdated technology
As much as I love my gadgets and gizmos, I totally relate to why so many teachers abhor new technology. In truth, it’s often unreliable. Plus, it’s constantly evolving — it seems like as soon as you’ve got one tool under your belt, it’s obsolete the next week.
The thing is, the highs really do outweigh the lows. Traditional lectures can’t compete with the engagement that tech brings to your classroom. Tech promotes innovation and divergent thinking. It brings relevancy and necessary 21st century know-how. Embracing the fast-paced, evolving nature of technology is imperative to quality teaching.
While I’m a big advocate of asking your students for pointers (especially if you teach older kids), you can avoid potential embarrassment and wasting precious class time by getting comfortable with new software or devices before introducing them into your repertoire.
Want to learn more about integrating tech in the classroom? We have you covered. Learn more about Camp Plug and Play 11.0 today.
Heather Sparks is a writer, educator, and mom of two. An Arizona native, she holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and a master’s degree in gifted education from Arizona State University.