One of the many things teaching related that I’ve run across is the Middle School Matters website and podcast. Being a middle school teacher it made sense for me to learn as much as I can about the middle school mindset as well as learn from others in the trenches. As I was listening to their latest podcast (show 249), the guys brought up the idea that sometimes we are looking for the one classroom model to teach all students at all times. They brought up that maybe the idea of blended learning (defined as using teacher driven learning, student driven learning, flipped classroom, etc. where it fits best in the curriculum) is what we need to look at an not focus on only one model.
I’ve always struggled with models of teaching because none seem to fit my classroom just right. Currently, our school is really pushing PBL in the classroom, and I’m helping pilot some ROLE strategies in the classroom this year. Others in our district are pushing the SEM model, flipped classrooms, or are emphasizing STEM. It’s easy to see great teachers using a certain model and think to yourself “I need to try that”. I think it’s folly though to change the bent of your classroom year after year just to find that the outcomes don’t quite work for you and try again with something different. Maybe the greatest skill we as teachers can learn is how to use the strengths and weaknesses of all the different methods of teaching combined with intimate knowledge of each of our students to cater each unit to maximize learning and produce based on that knowledge.
If that’s the case, this still doesn’t give us any room to sit back and relax as a teacher. It means we need to be actively looking for teaching models that we haven’t tried. We should be scouring professional development opportunities and take advantage of our colleagues with varying backgrounds to expand your knowledge as a teacher. We should constantly be innovating and learning. We should take risks, just like we ask our students to take risks in class. We should relish the chance to get new technology in our student’s hands even if it doesn’t go too well the first time. The more we push ourselves as teachers, the more we are able to push our students in the classroom.