3 New Tricks for Veteran Teachers

new tricks for veteran teachers
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As the years go by with teaching, we become well-versed with new pedagogical techniques, but we also sometimes rely on what has always worked. In fact, many of our classes from year to year follow the same or very similar structure with the same assignments. This includes how we teach content, how we engage our students with content, and how we assess their learning -- think Universal Design for Learning (UDL). The only difference in our teaching may be different students.  

The thing is, as the students change year to year, so do their lived experiences and their access to technology. Even as veteran teachers, there are times when we should apply new tools to our existing curriculum. 

In the spirit of UDL, good and effective teaching relies on multiple ways of representing content, multiple ways of engagement, and multiple ways of action and expression. To that end, and with the proliferation of edtech tools that emerge daily in our field that can support transformational learning, here are a few ways that veteran teachers can leverage learning technologies and switch up teaching and learning. 

1. New Instruction Trick: TikTok Influencer? 

The days of spending 30 minutes standing in front of the class explaining concepts to students are gone. Students enjoy social networking sites and often receive and retain information better in smaller chunks. 

To do that, try creating short instruction videos through the social media platform TikTok in lieu of a traditional lecture as part of your instruction. Students will be very excited that their teacher not only knows what TikTok is and how to navigate it, but will be more likely to view the video more than one time, adding to their understanding. 

You can use multiple videos for the lesson as students are used to watching shorter videos and swiping to the next one. You could also embed the TikTok videos into a longer lesson, adding questions through an edtech tool such as Slido to ensure that students are keeping up with the content as you move forward to the next topic. 

2. New Engagement Trick: Embrace AI  

AI is all the rage. And while there are inherent flaws that should be addressed, there are opportunities to use AI to peak students’ interest. 

Now, we know that when we went through our teacher education programs, AI was not talked about in education, if at all, so we may not know where to start. Approach AI in similar ways that you did with mobile devices in the classroom that went from being banned in many schools to a requirement for BYOD classrooms. Students will be excited to have the chance to use AI in the classroom as opposed to being given a statement about how they are not to use it. 

Using AI as an engagement tool can also provide a way to introduce students to responsible and ethical practices with it. Check out this sample ChatGPT lesson plan as you develop AI pedagogical practices around trying it in your class. 

3. New Assessment Trick: Try Podcasting  

What if students shared their learning through podcasting? Many of the athletes and movie stars who students follow on social networking sites have podcasts. One great thing about podcasts is that information is provided on a topic, and in many cases, in detail. 

Instead of the traditional assessment for learning such as a paper or test, have students develop a podcast in which they can demonstrate their learning in a creative format. You as the teacher could be the host and have students on as your guests, or students can develop their own podcast and have one another as a guest. VoiceThread may be a neat tool to try to record the podcast to get started. 

Having a routine is great and consistency is key to an organized classroom. At the same time, it is good to change things around sometimes and introduce students to new ways of learning. As veteran teachers, we are often committed to lifelong learning for ourselves too, so as we elevate our own teaching, we can learn as well with students using edtech tools to support the process.

Dr. Stephanie Smith Budhai is an associate clinical professor in the department of Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum at Drexel University, in Pennsylvania. She holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies and K-12 teaching certifications in Technology Education, Instructional Technology and Business, Computers, Information Technology, Special Education and Elementary Education. She is also the 2021 Emerging Leader for the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE) and the 2017 ISTE Awardee for Excellence in Teacher Education. Dr. Smith Budhai is a Nearpod, and VoiceThread Certified Educator.  Dr. Smith Budhai has more than a decade of online teaching experience, and has published myriad books, articles, and invited editorials surrounding the use of technology and online learning in education. Her publications include: 

- Leveraging Digital Tools to Assess Student Learning 

- Increasing Engagement in Online Learning: Quick Reference Guide

- Culturally Responsive Teaching Online and In-Person: An Action Planner for Dynamic Equitable Learning Environments 

- Teaching the 4Cs with Technology

- Best Practices in Engaging Online Learners through Active and Experiential Learning Strategies

- Nurturing Young Innovators: Cultivating Creativity in the Classroom, Home and Community