5 ways to be deliberate in your teaching practice
By Gavin Grift
In a recent blog post, we talked about the importance of teachers being experts in the design of learning.
But to become a learning architect and have maximum impact on students, a teacher needs to become very deliberate in his or her teaching practice.
Here are five areas to start focusing on.
1. Find your growth edge
Our Teachers as Architects of Learning program helps educators pinpoint their ‘growth edge’ – or threshold of transformation.
When you reach this point, you might know you need to learn new skills or knowledge to build your teaching practice. However often the level of discomfort involved in this transformation means some people choose to ignore this and carry on as before, halting their growth.
Instead, we encourage educators to identify their own blind spots, and focus on deliberately building one, or just a few, specific skills over time.
2. Shift your mindset
In order for teachers to commit to deliberate practice, we believe a certain mindset needs to be embraced. These six propositions, which underpin Teachers as Architects of Learning, are a great place to start.
- Successful teachers have a thirst for new knowledge
- Highly effective teachers are first and foremost learners who embrace research to improve their own impact
- Teachers should constantly question their own teaching practice
- High impact teachers are reflective, and act upon those reflections
- Learning architects take a disciplined approach to improving elements of their practice
- Success is always based on the impact a teacher has on learning.
3. Recognise your own unique needs – and those of your students
Just like students, teachers aren’t created on a production line. We all come with the variables, talents and quirks that make us human – including different expertise, life experiences and personalities.
Of course every classroom is also unique, in part thanks to each school’s culture, location and the students that make up each individual class. So what you might choose to focus your deliberate practice on will likely be different to your colleagues.
For example, while you might be focused on creating an environment that feels truly safe and supportive for your students, another teacher might be working on their ability to recognise the life factors – such as cultural influences or future dreams – that affect a student’s learning.
4. Explore your teaching identity
We also believe teachers should be researchers of their teaching identity – undertaking self-exploration of who they are as teachers.
To do this, we suggest constantly monitoring, reflecting and acting upon what is working and what isn’t.
The trick is to find a clear path as a teacher that’s relevant and meaningful for you, and to embrace the messiness of learning in a structured, systematic way.
Teachers who are not as willing to ‘jump in the mud’ with their students may find it more difficult to shift their identity.
5. Keep learning at the heart of all teaching decisions
While all teachers implicitly know that learning should take centre stage in schools and classrooms, time pressures mean we can often feel forced to focus on teaching content, rather than how to create the best learning experiences.
This pressure can lead to confusion, anxiety and feelings of disengagement – in both students and their teachers.
But by effectively becoming researchers into our own teaching practices, and learning to self-assess our impact, we keep learning at the heart of everything we do.
To find out more about Teachers as Architects of Learning, click here.