For a teacher, no two days are alike. Lesson plans are important to chart the course of each class, but it’s not uncommon for a meticulously mapped out lesson to deviate wildly – sometimes even necessitating that a lesson plan be thrown to the wind entirely. Interruptions and disruptions are the norm, and no single day can be described as “typical” for a teacher – especially not those that are being monitored. Children can be unpredictable by nature, and every teacher would do well to bear in mind that, when it comes to learning, everything is always in a perpetual state of change.
Because of this, it’s essential to have a flexible approach to teaching. This is imperative for your students, who are dependent on you to maintain a sense of structure and leadership, no matter what the circumstances. It’s also important for your own sanity.
Indeed, students are often incredibly perceptive when it comes to noting whether or not a teacher is adequately prepared and in control. If a class sense a teacher is not in control, they are liable to push boundaries; seeing what they can get away with comes naturally to many pupils, and, in particularly dire cases, your classroom might become a student-led, rather than teacher-led, one.
Being “in control” does not mean using an excessive forceful approach, either – something many teachers, newly qualified and established alike, get wrong.
Though natural, anger is an instinctual, knee-jerk response that is not dictated by reason and imposes an ineffective, catch-all response onto a situation. This epitomises the polar opposite to a more ideal, flexible approach that is tailored to the situation at hand.
Another way in which flexibility is important for a teacher is the need to respond to different learner abilities, needs and interests. Sometimes this might mean delving into your teacher’s “bag of tricks”.
Another possible solution to this issue lies in giving children a choice about where, when and how they learn. Alternatively, teachers can extend the children’s learning beyond the face-to-face classroom environment – for example, through the use of difference learning technologies, media and IT.
If you are responsible for learners from a mix of backgrounds, or older students who study part-time, and have other work and family commitments, flexibility should certainly be one of the central tenets to your teaching style.
The more flexible a teacher’s approach, and the better able they are to think on their feet, the higher the chances are of increased student participation – ensuring that no child gets left behind under your watch.