Being a teacher has never been easy. Imagine being alone with scores of children all day long, five days a week during the school year – you have to make sure that each child is concentrating to the best of his or her ability, learning what you’re trying to teach, and behaving well. That’s a tall order to fill even for one child, but teachers routinely care for and educate many children at once with great success. Now, think about the way most jobs change over the years, especially with the continuing rise of technology and Internet-based enterprises. Those developments affect teaching, too – and that brings a whole new set of challenges to the already-demanding educational profession. Specifically, there are three areas of teaching that tend to change frequently, requiring teachers to continually re-evaluate them: curriculum, methods, and aids.
Many countries around the world are changing their curriculum as new opportunities arise in education. Because technological progress is moving at an ever-increasing rate, these curricula are changing more often than not – and that creates a significant amount of extra work for teachers. Every time new books are ordered, teachers must familiarize themselves with the new material and construct several months’ worth of lesson plans before they can implement it in the classroom. Often, new curricula demand more interaction between the student and teacher, among students, and between students and their parents. Making the learning process interactive is a growing focal point in education, and teachers are being required to reflect this in their educational efforts. This means that teachers become experts in a variety of activities to support their curricula, such as starting and maintaining educational conversations with high student participation rates, developing lesson plans around online resources, incorporating educational games or role play, and more. Creativity and successful interpretation of educational materials are key skills for the modern teacher.
Some examples of modern methods or approaches to teaching include Internet-based, conceptual pedagogy, constructivism, and more. Essentially, the very nature of knowledge comes into question and should be defined by the teacher and students, not by the curriculum. When knowledge is socially constructed, it can be better adapted to new experiences and intellectual developments. While certain facts and concepts must still be taught and understood, the context is always changing – and that’s something that a modern teacher addresses with creative methods. Showing students that knowledge is applicable in modern situations is part of interpreting and adapting traditional education for use in today’s work and living environments. While these methods bring the traditional curriculum to life, they’re also well suited for teaching new material such as the newest tools for online research, how to use workplace software, how to communicate using new technologies, and more. Methods are both philosophical and practical, and they guide the modern teacher through the challenges of today’s educational parameters.
Props and teaching aids seem to be increasingly significant parts of education, as they often help students focus and take an interest in what they’re learning. Using technology-based teaching aids is also a great way to familiarize students with practical applications that might become part of everyday life in the future. For example, teachers can use online games; online resources like dictionaries, translators, and research tools; technology like software and interactive whiteboards; and practical Internet applications such as online assessment, student blogging, and more. By combining modern tools that kids enjoy with educational materials and methods, teachers can contribute to students’ academic success even as widespread change continues to affect pedagogy. Flexibility and awareness of technological developments in education are some of the most useful traits for the modern teacher.
Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, where recently she’s been researching different online social work degree programs and blogging about student life. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.