We are at a stage in the teaching profession where it is an overwhelming task to know we are getting it right, for every child, every day. Yet what we know without a doubt is this: we want to get up, get it right that day, for those children who we have the chance to impact.
With movements to integrated, connected, and multidisciplinary curriculum that focusses on growth mindset, along with problem-solving and emotional intelligence, and ensuring that metacognition, student agency, and authentic experiences are at the heart of learning — no wonder we are overwhelmed!
Grant Lichtman, in his book Ed Journey 1, sums it up beautifully when he says, we are “perched on the cusp of two fundamentally different learning systems”. He goes on to discuss the frustration educators are experiencing as we try to tweak the industrial age model we have experienced for the last 150 years, to a new ecosystem model that reflects our wants of what we know is good teaching practice.
Recently, at a conference around future-focused education, I ran a workshop that summarised these shifts in education into four categories. I did so, in a hope that for an hour, I would give educators a chance to stop, take a breath, and clearly see what they could celebrate in their current practice, and hopefully give them some knowledge of where to head in their own professional development journey.
When I started the discussion, I talked about my own experience of primary school in the 80s and how, generally, the students that succeeded tended to be the girls, who listened well and finished their tasks quietly. I asked the group, if they were to summarise the four most significant shifts in pedagogy over the last few decades, what would they be? After their predictions, I countered that technology was not one of my main four, as I believe technology has always been present and impacted on pedagogy — the biggest shift has been the rate of changes in technology and keeping up with it!
So, I shared what I believe from my experience, research, and leadership in education to be the four most significant shifts in modern pedagogy.
1. Accessible, meaningful experiences for all as a focus. Gone are the days where a syllabus is one size fits all.
2. A move to visible teaching and learning. No longer are the mysteries of learning and progress held in the teacher’s head, with students ready to be spoon fed next steps on Monday morning at 9am.
3. Agency. Not just learner agency, but agentic teachers and schools building their own agency in teaching processes.
4. The move to flexible environments and systems. We see the new type of collaborative, flexible learning spaces being created and schools are challenging the old notion of ‘cells and bells’ and fixed timetables.
Over the next few months, I will unpack each of these four pedagogical shifts on this blog, with a hope that you will read it and celebrate the success you have accomplished within these movements. Hopefully too, the discussion of these shifts will give you a clear, less overwhelming focus on something you can put in place next. So that you can wake up, go to work, and know that you are doing your best in today’s challenging time of being a teacher.
Can I finish by saying, “Thank you, teachers, for all that you do’. You probably don’t get thanked enough, but thank you, because, if you are a teacher who is doing the best you can, reading educational blogs and waking up every day with a mindset to do the best for your learners, then those children are lucky. So, thanks.
1 Lichtman, G. (2014) #Ed Journey: A Roadmap to the Future of Education. Jossey-Bass San Francisco.