Innovation Often Means Teaching Against The Grain


by TeachThought Staff

Recently I came wideness this interesting article: Shifting from Pedagogy to Heutagogy and whilst espousing all contained within, it got me thinking well-nigh the inescapable perils faced when raising this and other progressive forms of teaching.

Going versus the grain can be a lonely wits at times, and whilst sound theory and instinct act as a nice warm wrap versus the cold, one could well do with a practical survival guide to squire in implementing new practice. Teachers need to be prepared for the reality of what lies superiority of them to squire in the reshaping of their classrooms, and to ultimately strengthen their resolve in maintaining the chosen epistemology.

Most progressive teaching models from Heutagogy, Constructivism, to PBL snooping themselves essentially, as much as possible, with placing the process and outcomes of learning in the hands of the learner. But let’s cut to the ventilator here, implementing such pedagogy is very messy, requires enormous patience, a stratum of pragmatism, and most importantly, needs a teacher of unconfined skill who can de-school their students to engage with it.


1. De-schooling means re-tooling. 

When shifting your teaching practice to a style that centers itself increasingly on the learner and less on the teacher, be prepared for many students (and parents) to vehemently mutter that you are not teaching them, and the inevitable conviction killing that these savage claims create. Never is this feeling stronger when you have students of good worthiness whence to complain. In these times it can seem as though you are robbing Peter to pay Paul, but in order to counter such occasion, ensure you have a very well thought-out plan and rationale that can be secure in specimen your line manager decides to investigate their ire, and increasingly importantly, one that you can talk yourself through in predictable moments of doubt.

Always remember what constitutes real learning, and you’ll be fine.

2. Be pragmatic.

Having said that, it would be wise to initiate the students with small doses of the new style, easing them in to what can be for many an uncomfortable territory. Imagine the squint on most students’ faces if you uncork the unit by saying ’Ok, here are the outcomes you need to unzip by the end of the unit, but you diamond the learning to unzip it.’ This is not just throwing students into the deep end. This is dropping them out of a helicopter into the middle of the ocean.

You need to set up the space, set up the culture for them to succeed in: how to research, how to work cooperatively, how to set incremental goals, how to manage time, how to work independently. Remember, by the end of upper school, students have had up to 11 years of teacher-led learning, and as they get older, have been told probably thousands of times how important it is to unzip a unrepealable grade, a grade which may seem in jeopardy without the strong lead of the teacher.

This blending is exactly what I find myself doing. I unchangingly uncork a unit with a strong learner-based approach, and slowly incorporate a much increasingly guided spritz towards the end as we tideway assessment. No matter what anyone says, it is at the end of the unit that we have to be pragmatic: students will be tested on specific learning outcomes, and there’s a lot at stake for me as a teacher if they aren’t met. The overall aim however is to continually manipulate the ratio in favor of learner-based learning.

3. Patience (amongst unconfined mess) is a virtue. 

This is where lots of patience comes in. With some groups, it may take much much longer to make it standard practice. You have to remember that to unzip success with student-centered learning is by no ways an easy feat, and so you must be patient with yourself as you try to get it right. You have to be expressly patient with the messiness of it all.

The messiness can be overwhelming at times, particularly with learners who have been largely shredded to learning. For them, it can seem like a self-ruling ride, a endangerment to do nothing, and the compulsion to manage and structure such occasions by reverting to old tricks is strong. In such instances, guidance and urgency lanugo a unrepealable path may be the only endangerment of keeping the dream alive. But this needn’t midpoint that it has to be completely teacher-led. Ensuring students victorious at an end outcome doesn’t midpoint that there is only one way to get there.

Sensible bridging strategies are not compromises, but smart decisions made to stay afloat.

4. No pain, no gain.

If it all sounds quite daunting, that’s considering it is. But we shouldn’t expect any less, considering without all we are talking well-nigh perfecting teaching models that take a teacher to the top of the game. The number of times I’ve fallen off the wagon are too myriad to name, but I unchangingly return, knowing that the learning is significantly stronger and that ironically, sooner the compulsory testing yields largest results. 

But increasingly than that, I pension returning considering when it works, the feeling that I get observing students learning for themselves and thesping ownership of their wits is one of pure joy, and unchangingly confirms why I love education.

Adapted image attribution flickr user Dan; Innovation Often Ways Teaching Versus The Grain