Teach Forward And Help Students Learn The Skills of Tomorrow

Roots are the strength of trees. The stronger the roots, the more powerful and healthy the trees. Their roots keep them grounded and strong through every triumph and obstacle.

Our students also need a firm, predictable foundation, and as the arborists, we must help them achieve it. This means keeping up with the changes in our world—including technological advances and innovation—so that we can teach them forward, and prepare them for the future.

Teaching Forward Encourages Change

Change can be a beautiful thing, depending on your outlook. When it comes to teaching students, the changing technology creates a world of new opportunities. That means we need to change how we teach to better suit their needs and their futures.

Our students are living in a world that is foreign to us in so many ways. They face information overload on a daily basis and have the answers to their questions available to them within seconds of searching.

Teaching with a forward-thinking mindset means being open to all of that, and being more interested in having our students think for themselves, rather than asking them something they can figure out with a quick internet search.

Instead of giving information, we need to provide wisdom and sharpen their skills. We need to teach them to think critically and solve problems. We’re helping them develop roots of good citizenship, trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, and fairness. To do that, we have to think bigger and progress into the future.

Teach Forward Through Engagement

Military generals would never go into battle without a detailed plan. They would account for every minute of movement and put backup plans in place in order to carry out their missions successfully. If something in the plan changes, the best generals are able to adapt.

As teachers, we can engage our students in the same way by planning our “missions” carefully and learning to adapt to students' needs—or teaching forward. When our students are engaged in their learning, they will find ways to break the barriers they often believe are in their way, and will learn to be more self-sufficient.

uNforgettable teachers embrace the way modern students learn and find ways to let them create experiences that are relevant to them. The results may surprise you.

Let Them Create

Every student we teach is filled with brilliance just waiting to be uNleashed. When we give them the opportunity to demonstrate it, amazing things can happen. uNforgettable teachers teach forward by handing over the reins from time to time and allowing students the chance to demonstrate their brilliance in relevant ways.

A class YouTube channel or a class podcast are the perfect platforms for allowing students to demonstrate what they have learned and share it with the world. It would show them that their knowledge is important and interesting to people around the world, and offer them a valid way of demonstrating what they have learned.

Students may also gain a deeper understanding about a topic you’ve covered in class by doing an audio interview with an expert (in many cases, one of their teachers). Once they create a video that goes live or a podcast that is on the airwaves, they can start to see the value in their learning. They will see their own brilliance in action, and will have connected their learning to something in the real world.

  1. Create an Ask the Student Channel or Podcast. Plan for students to answer questions that are common during specific units of study. Provide them with the questions and give them time to come up with the answers. You will find that students can explain concepts to their peers more effectively than we ever could.

  2. Create a Class Video Blog. Encourage students to vlog about what they are learning in class or their experiences in school. Their messages might open our eyes to what they need.
  3. Create an Interview-Based Podcast. Schedule time with other teachers in the building, the principal, or any staff, and let students ask them relevant questions. This can give teachers an opportunity to build relationships with their students outside of the classroom, and will give students a chance to delve deeper into concepts with their teachers.

Create Innovative Thinking

The future will be filled with entrepreneurs who will shape our world with their creativity and ideas, and those entrepreneurs might be sitting in your class right now. To get them on the right path, we must nourish and celebrate their skills and talents, and be forward-thinking enough to recognize their brilliance.

Teach forward by creating simple challenges that show them the value of hard work and determination—to spark their creativity and get them thinking for themselves.

  • The product challenge. Implement an Innovation Friday where you set up a challenge and inspire students to come up with the best ideas. Give them an everyday product to focus on, and ask them to make it better. Allow them two minutes to sell their idea through an elevator pitch, and then determine a winner.

  • The lesson challenge. We often teach concepts that our students find difficult to grasp. Create concept cards with topics they have learned in the past. Pass them out and have the students think of new ways to teach those concepts, then have them present the new teaching unit to the class.

  • The business challenge. Have students turn a concept that you have taught them into a business. Let them create the plan for what the business would look like, how they would make money, and who their customers would be. Give them time to pitch the idea in a Shark Tank type of setting, and then determine who you would invest in.

Giving our students a chance to create things based on what they know will engage them and give them an experience they will remember. It will teach them critical thinking skills and give them problem-solving opportunities that they will need in the future.

When we teach our students to innovate and allow them to embrace failure along the way, they will grow and succeed. Imagine if students walked into our classrooms and stepped into experiences they would remember forever. Innovative teachers remain in the minds of students forever, because they are often the ones who inspire the biggest experiences and ideas. 

Portions of this article were excerpted from uNforgettable.


Main post image by Arthur Krijgsman from Pexels

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