Flatter (Flattening) Classrooms, Simpler Pedagogies and Engaging Minds

Posted: October 29, 2018

As a young teacher who teaches a ‘subject’ to a generation with diminishing attention spans, who are quite speculative while being inquisitive and like variety, I have to take care in designing interesting courses in Communication for multiple MBA programs at our university.

This article is a short idea about my perspective on education and the classroom environment.

I love the idea of surrounding myself with excellence whether be it experts in pedagogy, school technology, good cooks, and master gardeners. The idea is – excellence breeds excellence and though it doesn’t happen through osmosis; somehow the mere idea of being in the presence of excellence transcends and I start exhibiting behaviors that suggest I’m getting a bit more capable of the task at hand.

The people I interact with in any classroom are takers and givers. They are at the start, middle and end of any learning process. They may initiate an entirely new learning process. Every day I have so much more to add to my current learning process. They are smart, creative thinking people and I’m surrounding myself with them because I have so much to learn.

Facilitating easy communication and expression will be the step to a rich learning and teaching experience. For example, the first step to flattening a classroom is to remove the physical barriers within the classroom itself, so that the student classroom is a large community, interacting and collaborating with one another. This I do, by using a large classroom, movable chairs and encouraging team games in which they need to move, talk and form ‘zones’ of communication. They learn intra-personal, interpersonal, small and large group communication through cases and activities. Who needs books and multiple lectures? I introduce the topic,  explain through an example and they learn the same through multiple levels of activities.

We try the introduction of flipped learning, peer-led learning and other methods beyond the lecture.

The whole aim of a teacher, I feel is to show them how to, and let them try. The minute, I hold their hand and teach them how to (do it), I will kill their ingenuity and creativity.  In the process, I also learn new ideas, methods and move out of methods that are pedagogically straitjacketed and help sustainable learning.

Therefore in my sessions, respect for all is a mandate -rules are for basic integrity, restrictions that curb communication are a no-no. Questions are welcome at any point of time, co-creation of activities has been introduced, wherein groups of students work with me to create tasks for their peers, and evaluate a part of it too and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

The book, Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds, is an inspiration and is well worth a read. It has everything you wanted to know about flattening the classroom and more.

-Sumitra Balkrishnan (Mishra)

Image Source – Pexels

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