An Innovative Classroom

We live in a fast paced world where things are ever changing.  As humans, we are forced to adapt to change, learn new techniques, and keep up on the newest trends. Where changes occur, we as dental professionals have to learn the changes yet maintain the original knowledge that we learned. Its like a pyramid as we are constantly building on our knowledge with the changes in practice as well as technology.  As educators, it is part of our role to be innovative, be creative and help students think differently so that they can remember the information you are presenting to them. I can think back and remember certain courses that I’ve taken and try to remember things that I learned and my mind comes up empty.  Thinking back to the the course “Community” in my first year of hygiene school. The instructor spoke very mono-toned, sat in her chair, and read the power point word for word.  She expressed no emotions, did not add anything creative, nor did she tell any personal stories or come up with any strategies to help improve our learning. There is an overwhelming amount of information in the Community course and the instructor continued to teach the course the same way that its been taught for years.  I know personally, I do not want to be remembered for being boring, showing lack of emotion or support and lacking in innovation. To be innovative, does not mean you must have the state of the art equipment or technology. Art, literature, storytelling, humor and technology- assisted learning can all be used in innovative ways (pg 40.) To me, being innovative in the classroom,is to be creative, and adding new ways of presenting material to enhance the course to help meet the students needs. An innovative classroom is not just an instructor reading material off of a power point screen.  We must provide options for the students, give them a variety of activities and assignments, keep up to date on the newest trends and explore possibilities. Educators should share their ideas with each other, even when things don’t “work” or go as planned. Sharing teaching strategies present the opportunity to improve the educational process (pg 45.) Sharing strategies with others will benefit students and faculty alike (pg 47.) Educators may have their own idea of what “works” and what is helping students to learn the course objectives however, I believe it is important to take note of what the students perspectives are. Evaluating the outcome is the final step in the process of implementing an innovative strategy (pg 45.) We always do course evaluations at the end of the semester, in hopes to improve things for the next time we teach the course. However, I think a creative idea would be to add an evaluation in the middle of the semester. Ask students for their opinions, what helped them learn best, and what improvements can be made. Why wait until the end of the course when one could have made improvements earlier to better prepare and help the students. Another thing that could help the instructor evaluate the outcomes would be to have another faculty member or the chair of the department sit in on the course and have another set of eyes evaluate the innovations.  I encourage all educators to take small steps and add new ideas and creativity to the classroom. There is no reason to try ten different innovative strategies all at once and overwhelm the instructor and the students. Once one new idea or presentation works, then add another.  Enhance your classroom one innovation at a time!

 

All citations come from Bradshaw, Martha “Innovative Teaching Strategies in Nursing and Related Health Professions” Chapter 3 Strategies for Innovation.

6 thoughts on “An Innovative Classroom

  1. It is amazing to read all of you ideas and insight. The experience you have is giving you a outstanding perspective not only about being an instructor, but how things may look through the eyes of the students. Your comment about we need to learn changes yet maintain our original knowledge illustrates the amount of mental energy that is takes to be an instructor. But, it is vital to realize the importance of always learning and growing as a person. I think one of the key things I think about being an instructor is that I want to have that impact on my students that allows them to remember me and the information I gave them. I don’t want to be like one of the professors you described that you can’t remember the information they taught. I agree that collaboration with other instructors is vital. You can always learn something from actively listening to your peers. I feel that way about our synchronous meetings. I learn so much and look at things differently due to our intelligent and diverse group of classmates. I like your idea about evaluations in the middle of the semester. It would be great to recognize areas that need improvement and to change things up to help meet the needs of the students. Great job, I enjoyed reading your ideas .

  2. I love your emphasis on discussing and sharing innovative teaching strategies with others. Like you stated, you do not need technology to be innovative, but it sure does help! I think social media resources are a great way to change how we as educators share information. Pinterest contains pins of teachers worldwide showing how they teach addition or manners. Blogs are another way teachers are using social media to get their ideas out. It is crazy to think that 10 years ago their ideas would only have reached people in the school system or by word of mouth!

  3. I love the thought you bring up at the end of your post. We are all obviously on board with and excited about innovating our classrooms. But, we must remember to not get carried away. As you mention, taking small steps and implementing changes one at time is important to avoid overwhelming us and more importantly our students.

  4. Brittany, I think we have all had one of those teachers in our experience as a student, where they could have basically handed you the powerpoint and let you read it at home. I like how you mentioned the use of personal experiences and stories, which is something I always enjoyed and usually caught my interest more than the actual lecture. It’s that excitement and humor in most of those experiences that students enjoyed and got them to sit back up in their chair and pay attention. Engaging the students and bringing them into the discussion and learning experience is very important. So many times these teacher centered models of learning lead to very little learning at all. I’m sure in your communities class you just sat back and tried to listen, but ended up going home and reading the material yourself so you would actually learn something.

  5. I like your thoughts on a mid semester evaluation. There is no reason to continue to do something that isn’t working for everyone just because the semester isn’t over yet. This relies on either peer feedback or utter honesty from students! And you are correct in implementing innovative strategies that it is best to do one thing at a time. Especially if it is new territory for you as an instructor or for your students.

  6. Brittany, I really enjoyed how you brought into your blog about your own experience with your teacher from your community class. It can a huge downer when you have a professor/teacher who’s only “going through the motions.” You have experience now of being in the classroom and I can only imagine some of the stressors you have amongst other faculty with being resistance to change. I really enjoyed how you mentioned we can take the small steps towards innovation and our classroom! For us that have not had the opportunity to work in the classroom, I would love to pick your brain for ideas!! =)

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