The field of education is constantly evolving, as we adapt our teaching to reflect the newest in research and best practices. Unfortunately, not every innovation turns out to be good for students. For every great trend (looking at you, growth mindset), there’s an equally terrible one (popcorn reading, anyone?). Following are the current teaching trends we believe we’ll look back on and ask ourselves, “What were we thinking?”:
1. Constant Screen Time
We’re not here to demonize technology. It certainly has its benefits, and it’s a good way to meet kids where they are. However, we already have a problem with kids and screens. Too much screen time can cause vision problems, promote inactivity, decrease attention span, and even inhibit socialization. There’s also the issue of viewing one-to-one devices as some kind of a silver bullet—the answer to all our educational woes. In the hands of a trained teacher with adequate tech support, individual laptops and tablets can be a great resource. But that kind of professional development is sorely lacking.
2. Rote Posting of Lesson Objectives
It’s common practice in American classrooms to post lesson objectives on the board (e.g. “The student will be able to…”). As a teacher, you absolutely need to know your intended outcome when planning, but do kids? Actually, posting the learning target can be limiting for students. It gives away the ending if you will. In practice, they become meaningless to kids (we imagine it sounds something like the adults on an episode of Charlie Brown). The truth is, mandating posted learning objectives is for one group of people: observers. And, frankly, that makes it a colossal waste of your valuable time.
3. Artificial Intelligence Replacing Human Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) is already being used in blended and personalized learning, but experts expect its use to grow significantly in the coming years. It seems schools will be at the center of this technological “revolution.” Education leader Sir Anthony Sheldon claims that intelligent machines will replace teachers by 2027. Of all the current teaching trends, this one makes us the most horrified. Teaching is perhaps the most human of endeavors. Pardon us if we don’t think that robots could ever have the empathy, passion, and grit required to do what we do every day.
4. Sky-High Kindergarten Expectations
Kindergarten has experienced a shift since the late 1990s. With increased emphasis on student achievement and the establishment of standards, expectations that were once relegated to first and second graders moved down to 5-year-olds. But kindergarten was designed as a place for children to play, explore, and develop social skills. Frankly, we sacrifice this at our own peril (and that of the children in our care) because these skills are preconditions of academic learning. Frustrated with kindergarten burnout (how is that a thing?), more teachers and parents are pushing back and calling for play-based classrooms.
5. The Gamification of … Everything
There’s something to be said for games in the classroom. They’re fun and engaging, increase participation, and provide great practice opportunities. However, not everything can or needs to be “gamified” for kids. And not all teachers are equipped to integrate gaming elements, which results in ineffective games that don’t help students meet learning objectives. Furthermore, online games tend to rely on rewards, points, and badges—in other words, extrinsic motivators. The last thing we want is to send students the message that learning isn’t inherently meaningful.
6. Curriculum That Dictates the Exact Words Teachers Say, the Exact Page They’re On, and Just About Everything Else
Sorry … not sorry, but requiring teachers to follow a script while delivering a lesson was never going to work. Scripted curriculum materials focus on explicit instruction, discrete skills, and rote learning. Scripted curriculum does not allow for the flexibility that the classroom demands. It’s a “one size most certainly does not fit all” approach. It fails to address the diverse needs of students, takes away time from content areas like social studies and science, and squashes creativity. It might provide some structure to a teacher who doesn’t yet feel confident in their skills, but basically, it’s everything we hate.
What current teaching trends do you want to make disappear? Come share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.