Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Six Steps That Will Change Learners & Classrooms

The terms 'Transformational Teaching' and 'Transformational Learning' are discussed in the academy at times. But is this just academic nonsense or is there some significance to the terms and the practices. What practical advice might the work offer to teachers, parents and those who homeschool?

In the simplest possible terms, Transformational Teaching (TT) is teaching that changes learners by creating the right conditions for learning. We change the way we approach tasks, the questions we ask about the tasks, our expectations for what kids will learn, and our expectations. In effect, it helps to change the way learners understand learning, their co-learners, their teachers and themselves. This is the dead opposite of 'Transactional Teaching'.

The latter can be recognized by the emphasis on transmission of knowledge from teacher to child. Its major concern is what the learner knows and will learn. Transformational Teaching values knowledge too, but it is characterized much more by inquiry, discovery, firsthand experience, critical thinking and the use of varied communication and thinking skills, than simply knowledge transmission. Here are 6 basic steps that will help to create environments in order to change children from simply trying to acquire, soak up or replicate knowledge to learners who develop their abilities in areas like inquiry, discovery, and critical thinking.

6 Key Steps to using Transformational Teaching.

Step 1 - Develop effective routines

If we want to create classroom that encourage inquiry, experimentation, problem solving and lots of interaction, we need to be VERY well organised. Whether quiet places, or noisy ones, we must have good routines.

Step 2 - Organize classroom space & materials well

Transformation learning requires a place, 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 transformational teaching and learning are practiced, 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

They will also be classrooms 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 your 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 greater interaction with the teacher.
  • Much more group work. This 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.
  • Finally, we will see higher expectations and standards for work and behaviour.

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