This week we are challenged to begin to look at our own understanding of which teaching theories make up our own teaching philosophy and classroom practices. As teachers, I think in many cases it is hard to step back, understand and verbalize the teaching theory your practices fall under. Through the process of my grad classes I feel that in the past two years, more than any other years in my teaching career, my teaching theories and pedagogy have been challenged. These challenges have inspired me to change and grow as an educator. Throughout these years, I have come to understand that teaching as a practice for me, is fluid, meaning it will change and change often.
When reading this weeks reading “Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism : Comparing Critical Features from an Instructional Design Perspective” I found that I could identify times within my teaching practice where I used most, if not all teaching and learning theories to some extent. Different subject matter, different learning styles, different learning environments and many other factors challenge teachers to combine different teaching and learning theories throughout their day and year in order to provide all students with an educational experience that caters to their individual learning needs. Similar to what Jana shares in her blog post, teaching cannot be a “one shoe fits all” type of environment we need to ensure that we are using multiple approaches to teaching to meet all needs within our classroom.
In the beginning of my teaching career my comfort level was greatest when I had more control over the teaching and learning environment. I placed a lot of importance on the way my classroom was run and the order in which things were accomplished and done. When reading this weeks reading I see can identify with behaviorism in many of my original approaches to teaching and learning. Throughout the years this has began to change. Similar to what Sage shared in her blog post I am as well a firm believer in routines and procedures and believe they are the foundation of the classroom. I do tend to spend time reinforcing these routines in a behaviorism way at the beginning of the school year to ensure that they are solid and set. As the year progresses and the routines are set offer more choice and student lead learning then I did in the beginning of my career.
Throughout my career I have learned the importance of passing control over to the students and allowing them to take the lead on their learning. With this shift in my teaching I would say currently I am teaching using more of a constructivism approach to teaching. Ertmer and Newby share that, “Constructivism is a theory that equates learning with creating meaning from experience.” I believe that in order to provide our students with the 21st century thinking skills that we have talked about so much over the last few terms, it is crucial that we are allowing them with choice and opportunity to build their own understanding. Similar to what we have discussed about the role of the memory in this generation of children where they have access to information at all time as well as the idea that knowledge is becoming obsolete constructivism provides students with the skills to handle this rapid change of knowledge. “The goal of instruction is not to ensure that individuals know particular facts but rather that they elaborate on and interpret information.” Constructivism can help in fostering the 21st century skills that will allow students to think critically about, elaborate and create their own meaning within learning.
This week Alec shared how ‘Connectivism’ is a learning theory that should be considered when beginning to look at how we shape our learning environments and teaching pedagogy. Over the past few terms of my masters degree I have come to truly understand the importance of technology in the classroom and helping students navigate the online world safely and efficiently. Like I mentioned above it is important to consider how our teaching practices are preparing students with the 21st century skills that they will require to be successful in their futures. The article “Connectivism: A Learning theory for the Digital Age” shares the following, “The life of knowledge was measured in decades. Today knowledge is growing exponentially. In many fields the life of knowledge is now measured in months and years.” The focus is moving away from teaching and memorizing facts and is now moving towards teaching students the skills in order to keep up with this fast pace change in knowledge. Connectivism helps provide them with the skills they need to keep up with this rapid change.
Connectivism is driven by the understanding that decisions are based on rapidly altering foundations. New information is continually being acquired. The ability to draw distinctions between important and unimportant information is vital. The ability to recognize when new information alters the landscape based on decisions made yesterday is also critical -Siemens
As teachers we need to ensure that we continue to challenge our teaching practices and our teaching pedagogy to ensure that our practices are growing and changing to address the needs of our students as well as the demands of society. Professional development opportunities as well as these grad classes have allowed me to really step back and begin to address areas within my teaching practices that I can continue to improve on. I mentioned in the beginning of this post that I would refer to my personal teaching theory as ‘fluid’. This is because as an educator I understand that different scenarios, different students and different changes within our society will push us teachers to continuously challenge and change our teaching practices to meet the ever changing needs.