In 2017, flexible teaching is more important than ever. But what is it and why is it should you be using it?
In 2017, we have a much better understanding of how children learn than we ever have before.
The development of scientific research over recent decades has meant that schools and educational establishments have been able to make great strides in the way they impart knowledge and information. What we have learned helps us teach — and what we have learned is to throw out the old-school rule book on how to educate a young mind.
One such ‘new-age method’ popular amongst educators, a method they wouldn’t have dared using until recently, is the flexible teaching approach.
It’s a radical new methodology, but what exactly is this alternate teaching practice and how does it benefit learning?
What is Flexible Teaching?
For a teacher, no two days are alike.
A learning environment is in constant motion, filled with disruptions, discussion and new ideas.
Lesson plans are an important part of the educational process. They help chart the course of each class while ensuring that the educator is prepared and has adequate information ready for their pupils. However, it’s not uncommon for a meticulously mapped out lesson to deviate wildly from what was originally planned.
This is no bad thing; children are unpredictable by nature, after all.
With so many minds involved, curiosity and ability level can lead the topic of discussion in a totally different direction than what has been laid out in a lesson plan. This organic movement helps facilitate learning, as it allows students to naturally explore subjects through their own questions, ideas, previous knowledge and level of intelligence.
Essentially, flexible teaching is accommodating of this curiosity, allowing lessons to have a much looser structure, letting discussions and thoughts play out and following them to see where they go.
If you avoid flexible teaching, instead sticking to your lesson plan and rigidly enforcing the teaching you envisioned for the lesson, you might get out the information that you wanted to. But is that really the best way for children to learn?
Why is Flexible Teaching Important?
We believe that the flexible teaching approach is absolutely essential to learning. It’s not only imperative for your students, but also for your own sanity.
Let’s be clear that flexible teaching isn’t without structure; students are dependent on teachers providing some form of structure so that they can make sense of their education. Instead, it allows you to work with the room and not make the room work with you.
There are two important reasons why flexible teaching will benefit you and your pupils:
You cannot possibly hope to always keep children on track. It is just not in their nature. However, control of a classroom is still important.
Pupils are always pushing the boundaries; you simply can’t tame an inquisitive young mind. Yet still, teachers try, but that just leads to further disruption.
Students are often incredibly perceptive to the level of control a teacher has. If a class sense a teacher is not in control or prepared for the situation, they are much more likely to test the limits and become disruptive. Eventually, if you are so unwilling and unprepared to cater to the needs of your classroom, it might become student-led, rather than teacher-led.
Control isn’t about an excessively forceful approach — something many teachers, newly qualified and established alike, get wrong. You stand alone against a small army. It’s not about forcing them; it’s about controlled guidance.
The flexible teaching approach is tailored to help avoid this kind of situation. So what happens if you are prepared to move with the minds of your classroom, yet still provide a loose structure to their education? You can guide them, while still indulging their curiosity at the same time. This allows for a much greater level of control than somebody who refuses to do anything but preach a point-by-point lesson plan.
Work to the Abilities of Your Classroom
Another way in which flexibility is beneficial is that it allows educators to respond to different learner abilities, needs and interests.
If you are inflexible, you might find that students are unable to follow exactly what you are trying to teach them, as it isn’t suited to their specific needs. No matter how well you know your students, no matter how many times you’ve taught them, you can’t know for sure how they’ll react to specific topics.
The more flexible a teacher’s approach, the better they are able to adapt to the room and the higher the chances are of increased student participation and engagement – ensuring that no child gets left behind under your watch.