What are Your Pedagogical Principles Based on How Students Learn

At the core, the shift to modern education is a shift in how people learn. So, one of the most important things you can do to prepare for the journey is to define what those changes will look like. BUT, there is a key distinction here. In the traditional paradigm, changing pedagogy has traditionally meant telling teachers how to teach. It has meant creating standard curriculum, scope and sequence, and mandatory checklists for teaching practice. This approach is top-down. It disempowers and disengages teachers, prevents personalization, and nips innovation in the bud. So, in the shift to modern education, there is no “telling teachers how to teach.” Instead, leaders and teachers work together (often with students and families and partners) to create guidelines about what learning and teaching can look like. These aren’t rules. They aren’t checklists. They aren’t expectations for what page every 8th grade science teacher should be on on any given day. These are a set of characteristics, principles, and expectations that help teachers envision what good pedagogy looks like and bring that pedagogy to life in ways that respond to their students’ needs. Doing this lays a critical foundation for the road ahead. Here some things to think about as you dive in.

First, identify who you will engage in the process. Consider whose expertise is vital and whose buy-in is essential. Next, think about the bodies of research and knowledge you will use to shape pedagogical principles. Think about the learning sciences, universal design, and evidence-based equity principles. Think about what it means to be culturally responsive to your community. And then finally, think about the how. How will you communicate pedagogical principles to different audiences? You will want to make them clear and compelling. You will want people to understand what these principles mean for them. How will you help people – especially teachers and students – develop new knowledge and skill to meet new expectations? And finally, how will you test and continually refine these principles? How will you evaluate what is working and what is not? How will you adjust and refine?

Questions to Consider

  • What does pedagogy look like in your school or district today? What are expectations for learning and teaching? How are these communicated and maintained?
  • How have pedagogical changes happened in the past? What lessons can you learn from previous efforts to shift instruction in your school or district?
  • Who will you engage in the process of defining pedagogical principles?
  • What bodies of research and knowledge will you use?
  • How will you communicate changes? Develop capacity? Evaluate efficacy?