In the simplest possible terms Transformational Teaching (TT) is teaching that creates learning environments that change learners. It changes the way they approach tasks, the questions they ask of the tasks, their expectations for what they will learn from a task, and their expectations for its use and application. It in effect helps to change the way learners understand learning, co-learners, their teachers and themselves.
The opposite of Transformational teaching is 'Transactional Teaching'. This can be recognised by its characteristic transmission of knowledge from teacher to child and its focus on integrating knowledge of others largely as individual learners. Its major concern is what the learner knows and will learn.
While knowledge is important and there is a role for transactional approaches to developing it, there are other ways to learn. Transformational Teaching values knowledge too, but it is characterised much more by inquiry, discovery, firsthand experience, critical thinking and the use of varied communication and thinking skills, than simply knowledge transmission.
6 Key Steps to using Transformational Teaching.
What I mean by this is that a classroom that allows inquiry, experimentation, problem solving and lots of interaction needs to be VERY well organised. It is not synonymous with classroom chaos, although there will inevitably be a little more noise.
Step 2 - Organise classroom space & materials well
TT requires a room where materials are available, spaces are provided that permit interaction, additional access is given to computers and other key resources.
Step 3 - Establish clear expectations with students about what can and cannot occur
We need to establish some basic rules about sharing space, movement, sharing materials, how class members interact, time frames for task completion and so on. All must be clear and revisited regularly.
Step 4 - Implement routines for the sharing of ideas and discoveries
Classrooms where TT is practised need to be places where ideas are shared and celebrated. Audiences are very important to testing ideas, receiving feedback and learning from one another.
Step 5 - Place a high importance on quality outcomes and behaviour
Classrooms that are characterised by TT are places where standards are high. Near enough is not good enough, there must be accountability in terms of quality, task completion respect for others and so on.
Step 6 - Place a priority on communication, feedback, task evaluation, honesty & respect
This is the key to a vibrant engine room in any classroom. Classrooms where there is honesty, generosity and accurate feedback are places where members will take risks as learners. Ensure that these are present and part of you regular maintenance work as a teacher.
What do these classes do?
I'll probably say more about this in a future post but in general terms Transformational Teaching leads to classroom environments where you will see:
- much greater interaction between students as well as much great interaction with the teacher;
- much more group work (and these will vary based on topic, interest and expertise, not simply general ability;
- the teacher leading from behind as much as from the front;
- more celebration of work and achievements;
- greater learner autonomy within clear boundaries;
- regular demonstration, and expert resource people visiting;
- increased use of multi-modal responses (shared use of images, words, drama, art etc);
- increased risk taking, experimentation, problem solving and creativity; and
- high expectations and standards for work and behaviour.