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The “Whats,” “Hows,” and “Whys” of Innovative Teaching

Are you an innovative teacher? Our guess is that your answer is, “Yes!” Most teachers believe that innovation is a key component of effective teaching.

However, it’s not uncommon for teachers to revert to more traditional means of educating their students when they feel pressed for time to get through the curriculum. Furthermore, during an era where technology and information is evolving at a rapid pace, it can be difficult for teachers to keep up with the best strategies to engage their students.

Soooo, WHAT exactly do I mean by innovation teaching? (Psst . . . it’s more than coming up with creative new ideas and novel ways of doing things.)

Innovative teaching is . . .

  • Creating a welcoming and inclusive environment where students feel seen and heard and know that they matter to their teacher and peers.
  • Being culturally responsive where students see themselves represented in the curriculum and school culture.
  • Providing an education that connects to “real-world” learning where students investigate what is happening at a local, national, and global level.
  • Offering students the opportunity to choose what they want to learn and how they want to be assessed so they can showcase their strengths and knowledge.
  • Engaging students by integrating new technologies into the curriculum to enhance their technology and media literacy skills and support their online interests.
  • Creating experiential movement-integrated lessons that are whole-body focused where students are at the centre of the learning process.

In other words, innovative teaching isan intentional series of student-focused actions an invested educator can take to stimulate students’ ability to meaningfully and creatively engage with the material in order to stimulate interest and advance their knowledge” (Bildfell, 2015, para 3).

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Soooo, HOW do you teach with innovation in mind? (Psst . . . it’s definitely not a “one-size-fits-all” approach.)

Teachers must be willing to engage in courageous creativity, outside-of-the-box thinking, a willingness to take risks, and a growth mindset. They also need to consider their learning space, the diverse student population in their care, the curricular subjects they are required to teach, the bias and barriers their students are faced with on a daily basis, and so forth.

In other words, innovative teaching requires conducting a full assessment of who you are teaching, where you are teaching, and what you are teaching in order to make choices that best support student learning, engagement, academic achievement, and a positive classroom climate.

Innovation takes patience and experience! As the proverb goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Don't give up too easily; persistence pays off in the end. ”

Innovative teaching includes . . .

  • Making time for mindfulness exercises where students experience silence, regulate their emotions, take a break from learning, and get grounded in their bodies.
  • Taking students out of the classroom and into the great outdoors where they can connect with nature, relieve stress, breathe fresh air, and attune to their senses.
  • Allowing students’ creativity to flourish through inquiry-based, hands-on, and experiential learning experiences that include all of the subjects including the arts. 
  • Sharing and problem-solving in circles as a pedagogical process in which the entire class comes together to talk openly and listen respectfully.
  • Using role-play and process drama as a way for students to develop communication skills, take on new perspectives, make meaning of life situations, and think critically.  
  • Encouraging students to activate their whole selves in the process of learning and problem-solving by “bodystorming” and “brainstorming” their ideas.
  • Integrating movement into the curriculum as a whole-body approach to learning which allows students to internalize and embody new ideas and concepts.
  • Making social and emotional learning skills a critical part of every school day lets students know their emotional and mental well-being is important.
  • Creating self-reflection opportunities for students to contemplate their learning and personal goals, how they are feeling emotionally, and what they’ve accomplished.   
  • Offering choices for flexible assignments and assessment where students can showcase their knowledge and strengths to succeed academically.

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Soooo, WHY does innovative teaching matter? (Psst . . . it’s more than a good idea or because it aligns with best teaching practices.)

The landscape of education is changing rapidly including how teachers and students perceive the world around them. What students know, what they want to know, and how they best learn is changing too.

More than ever, teachers need to meet their students where they’re at, which includes attending to their intellectual, physical, mental, and emotional needs.

Innovative teaching is important as it . . .

  • Reflects current educational practices that are culturally responsive and relevant to students’ lived experiences so that each individual feels welcome and celebrated at school.
  • Requires that teachers know their students inside out from their home life, mental health and well-being, to their learning styles and individual strengths, in order to help them succeed.
  • Encourages students to develop life skills such as critical thinking, global competence, multiliteracy, communication, problem-solving, and emotional well-being.
  • Develops students’ sense of wonder, imagination, and creativity where they learn to take risks, learn from their mistakes, and be open to new ideas and possibilities.
  • Creates opportunities for exploration and discovery where students get to be in the driver’s seat of their own learning and make choices as to the direction they wish to travel.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Traci L. Scheepstra, Ph.D., is the CEO/Founder of Embodied Learnings. Want to know more about her work in education? Read here


Reference 

Bildfell, A. (2015, September 1). Blog: What is innovative teaching and how can we implement it into our classrooms at the post-secondary level? TA Support. Carleton University. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2ULjGhE 

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