Sunday, January 29, 2012

How to Be An Education Innovator - Education Outside the Box...Part 4

If you do a Google search for innovations in education, you will find articles on technology, classroom materials, classroom management, school design, and creative lesson planning. All of these innovations are dependent on teachers and adminstrators who have a vision of what education can become.  For true innovation to occur, teachers need to be Educators "Outside of the Box".   It is easy to talk the talk about wanting to try new lessons, new technology or new learning approaches in your classroom. It is much more difficult to actually walk the walk.  Sometimes teachers are our own worst enemies.  We let the fear of change stop us from trying something new. We worry about what other teachers or administrators will think of what we are doing. The end result is that we become Educators "Inside of the Box" by closing the door to our classrooms and keeping our innovative ideas to ourselves.

Here is the challenge that Stan Heffner has given to all of us, find ways to break out of the box.  Open your classroom doors.  Make it a priority to collaborate with colleagues.  Read education blogs. Join your content area association.  Talk about what is working in your classroom with your colleagues when you can - even if it is in the office before school, in the hallway between classes or over a lunch in the teacher's lounge.  Support your peers who are trying new ways of teaching, even if it is outside of your own comfort zone.  Focus on what you have control over - YOU! What can you start to do as a teacher to begin to be an innovator?

Part 4  Innovative Ways to Approach Teaching

Marilyn Friend is an authority on effective co-teaching.  She describes true co-teaching as a partnership between a content specialist and a differentiation specialist.  The role of the content specialist is to focus on the content area material for the class, share information on what a "typical" student should be able to do as a learner in the class and work on the pacing for the "typical" students.  The differentiation specialist focuses on helping the content specialist adjust the content for a wide range of learners, provides ideas for alternative ways to teach the content and helps the content specialist understand the pacing for students at either end of the learning spectrum.  All students benefit from this partnership and both teachers in the partnership should be able to learn from each other.

Teachers who act as facilitators of learning in their classrooms focus on formative instructional practices. They regularly assess their students learning and collect data that helps them to plan instruction and learning opportunities.   Facilitators use a variety of technology and other lesson resources to help students acquire new knowledge, apply the knowledge and demonstrate their understanding.  Facilitators encourage collaboration and help student groups work effectively together.
Brain Based Learning
Innovations in the field of brain studies have allowed us to gain new insights into how the brain learns new information, accesses old information and makes connections to form new ideas.  The research has been applied to a variety of education topics including how the brain learns math and how the brain learns to read.
Marzano Strategies for Effective Teaching (the Marzano 9)
Marzano is one of the leaders in teaching reform. His focused research on the 9 strategies that a teacher can use that have the largest impact on student learning is a good starting point for a teacher who wants to have a framework to build innovative teaching strategies around.

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