Illustration by Edpuzzle Staff
2020 has had a lot of its own unique buzzwords. From asynchronous learning to hybrid classrooms, these words have probably made your head spin for the past 9 months and we promise not to bring them up again.
While this year was by far ideal for teachers, it did bring up important topics to consider. Sure, lots of these ideas aren’t new, but they do emphasize areas in education that deserve more attention and prioritization.
So let’s start off this next year right! We’ve put together a list of six buzzwords that are popping up and will influence our style of teaching in 2021 and beyond.
1. Whole child education
The way we talk about a balanced diet is the same way we need to talk about education. When we feed our minds with a variety of things, we learn better.
The need for a whole child approach became clear when the unstable and grueling nature of remote learning began to take a toll on students’ mental health.
Whole child education emphasizes growth beyond just academics. It ensures that students are acquiring skills that help their social and emotional, physical, and identity development.
What can this look like exactly? It could mean incorporating things like mindfulness into your classroom or simply working on strengthening relationships with your students and their families.
Including more whole child approaches can even have positive effects on the teacher, and as we all know, a healthy teacher is a happy teacher. Practice what you preach, right?
2. Data-driven teaching
Data has a bad rap in education. The general understanding is that it turns students into a statistic based on arbitrary measures and test scores.
The type of data-driven teaching we’re suggesting allows teachers to pinpoint exactly what students know and don’t know. Teachers can then take this information and use it to plan teaching (or reteaching in some cases) for individual students.
If you’re looking for an easy way to dip your toe into data-driven teaching, you can start by looking at Edpuzzle’s analytics. Besides seeing who got which questions correct in your video, you can check “Total Time Spent” in your Edpuzzle Gradebook.
This data point shows you how much time each student spent watching your video lesson. If a student’s “Total Time Spent” is higher, you could assume that they had trouble understanding the topic and made more effort to rewatch certain parts of the videos.
This information helps you decide what topic to cover next, which small groups to gather for extra support, and so much more! Doesn’t data sound exciting now?
3. Mastery-based grading
If the remote learning experience has made anything clear, it’s that traditional grading needs a makeover and this is the best time to do it.
According to educational consultant Sheldon L. Eakins, “If we’re grading right now, we’re grading privilege.” Not every student has access to their own laptop, a printer, or an adult able to help them with homework. Grades therefore, are not a fair or accurate representation of learning opportunities.
That’s why buzzwords like mastery-based grading are so refreshing! This instructional approach says that students need to show a certain level of competence with a task before moving on to the next topic.
The Modern Classrooms Project organization recommends that you start assessing mastery by focusing on the smaller foundational skills that make up complicated tasks.
Once students need to learn more complex skills, they’ll be able to concentrate their attention just on the more advanced parts of a task because they’ve already mastered the foundational pieces.
The benefits of mastery-based grading are clear. When students are more focused on what they’re learning instead of grades, they’ll not only master more content but also feel less stress and less negativity towards learning. Now this is a buzzword we can get behind.
4. Outdoor learning
While this buzzword was mostly brought back out of necessity, it’s becoming a crucial part of many teachers’ toolboxes (or tool belts in some cases).
Outdoor learning can happen across subjects or grade levels, and doesn’t require access to gardens or parks. Embrace the outdoors as a second classroom, where students can compliment the foundational skills they are being taught with connections to the real world.
The opportunity to go outside is sure to motivate your students about a topic. As a teacher interviewed by KQED sees it, “I always feel like a kid is going to come to school if they know that their writing teacher is going to be showing them something weird outside so that they can write about it.”
The curiosity sparked by outdoor learning can also help moderate students’ anxiety levels. So even when social distancing is no longer required (crosses fingers), it’s still a good idea to take your students outside to keep them both mentally and physically healthy.
While not necessarily an education buzzword itself, anti-racism has become a larger part of the global conversation of how we treat others. And, isn’t treating others with respect something we try to teach as early as kindergarten?
According to Jamilah Pitts, an advisor for the Teaching Tolerance organization,
“Anti-racist education...cannot be packaged or prescribed, arranged into a checklist, rubric or formula. Anti-racist educators understand that anti-racist work begins with the self. They begin by grappling with their beliefs, mindsets, philosophies and biases about the world, education and their students.”
Anti-racism should first be digested and understood by teachers themselves. Consider giving your staff/co-workers an opportunity to learn about their own prejudices through professional development opportunities.
Once teachers have addressed their own prejudices, they can then start to tackle the ones that exist within their classrooms. Whether it’s through articles or videos about anti-racism, students can and should be sharing their experiences and leading the conversation on being anti-racist.
As educators, we have a responsibility to not just be a part of this conversation but to lead the way forward. The choices we make with our anti-racist curriculum can have a big impact on our students’ futures.
6. Self-paced classroom
If you ever felt rushed to learn things as a student, it’s probably because you were made to keep up with a curriculum that assumed learning has to happen within a determined amount of time.
In a self-paced classroom, students get to set the pace at which they learn a topic. This can only happen when teachers address the elephant in the room and eliminate the lecture as their primary mode of instruction.
Instead of lecturing, teachers create their own instructional videos that students watch at their own pace. These videos can even be put through Edpuzzle so teachers can engage students with questions and notes to support students’ understanding.
Interested in running a self-paced classroom? We’ve partnered with the Modern Classrooms Project to offer a free Self-Paced Classroom course on Edpuzzle. In it, you’ll learn how self-pacing creates the perfect environment with which to give your students more personalized instruction.
If you enjoy the course, make sure to check out the Modern Classrooms Project model to round out your knowledge of self-pacing. This model recommends that you pair teacher-created videos and self-pacing with mastery-based grading. Yes, you heard that correctly. Two buzzwords in one model!
So, ready for a fresh start? Decide which buzzwords peak your interest and try them out. 2021 won’t know what hit it!