Growing up, I observed teachers all around me and couldn’t help but notice that all their creativity and innovation eventually led back to the textbook. As students, everything boiled down to the notebook and how we reproduced their content in our exams. Creativity and innovation were regarded with suspicion and choices were very limited.
Fortunately for teachers, that has changed in the last two decades. Teachers today have so much choice vis-a-vis teaching methods. Contemporary teaching practices enable teachers to experiment and ensure that all the students learn and engage with the curriculum. Learning differences have been accepted and teachers are encouraged to break free of the textbook, challenge traditional classroom models and innovate.
The introduction of Internet in classrooms was the first step towards this positive change. A change that has been completed with the introduction of tablets and smart phones in classrooms. If used well, tablets and smart phones are so much more than simple gadgets. They are research tools that enable easy access to knowledge and also an efficient tool for collaboration.
The wide variety of applications available on the Web today have opened a vast arena of possibilities for teachers. All we have to do is choose and implement wisely to ensure effective learning. Add to this the power of social media which provides a backchannel for timid students to reach out to teachers and classmates with their problems and provides an ideal platform for debates, leading to a more engaged class.
The biggest advantage that teachers have today though are not the tools or applications. It’s the freedom of choice. The freedom to go beyond the textbook and flip the classroom, creating an ideal atmosphere for learning. The more a teacher innovates, the better the students learn reinforcing the teacher’s motivation and setting into motion a cycle of mutual growth and learning.
With all this a teacher need no longer rein in her creativity. As I said, it’s a good time to be a teacher.