The teaching landscape in the UK is constantly changing. When budgets are being slashed and expectations are being elevated, keeping classrooms at the top of their game can be a challenge. With our ears to the staff room door, we’ve compiled a list of the top trends on the teaching terrain.
Since the dawn of the internet and all-you-can-eat information at our fingertips, we’ve been shifting our education system away from the chalk and talk, rehearse and regurgitate teaching style of the 20th century where memorising information is the number one priority. Taking its place is a system focused on building skills like problem solving and collaboration which requires an emphasis on a good working memory.
A working memory can be thought of as a memory subsystem which is like a mental note pad - it holds strings of information or sets of instructions temporarily while other cognitive activities are taking place. Especially in maths, a subject which relies on learning procedure and process, a good working memory can be a key factor in determining those who can keep up with the lesson and those who struggle. That’s why more and more teachers today include activities which boost working memory retention in their lessons.
Differentiation is all about providing a variety of paths to access information so as to suit a variety of educational needs. For example, presenting new mathematical problems in a verbal, visual and interactive way produces more opportunities to engage in that material making for a more inclusive learning environment. This ensures that lessons work for everyone, and also provides teachers with information about what methods of instruction work best for which pupils.
In recent years, mastery has made waves across the UK education sector, particularly in maths. Mastery is all about ensuring all pupils have mastered the material at one stage before moving onto the next. It’s based on the idea that students having a proper understanding of the material relies on compound learning, in which each new piece of information builds on the last. In short, it’s about getting the whole class to nail the basics before tackling the more advanced stuff.
Low-stakes assessment in the form of fun quizzes or games can test the understanding of a whole class in an informal way. A great way of doing this is by making it visual using an interactive quiz app which pupils can access and submit their answers through devices. This is great for pupils as anonymous submission of answers means there’s less pressure to get it right first time, creating an inclusive and fun classroom activity. It’s also useful for teachers, who can get a good idea of the whole class’s level of understanding without the hassle of a formal assessment.
From shopping to banking, more and more everyday tasks are migrating to our smartphones and the trend is no different in the classroom. Although there’s fear around pupils having access to devices in class and the disruption this may cause, if executed properly, a bring your own device (BYOD) approach can encourage collaboration and active learning. Especially when coupled with a cloud-accessible resource bank for pupils to find class material, adopting a BYOD approach can make lessons seamless and straightforward for everyone.