I can get better at almost everything. You can get better at your practice, regardless of your teaching style. I know I often come across as dogmatic with regards to
Problem-Based Learning (see Fig. 1), but really, it’s all about steady improvement, irregardless of your teaching style. My personal preference is inquiry and complex task oriented groupwork 100% of the time (even if I fall short), but yours might be different. You can get better at it. You can improve it.
Like to do inquiry learning? You can improve that.
Like to utilize real-world tasks? You can get better at it.
Like to do Project-Based Learning? 3 Acts? AnyQs? You can improve at that. And you can improve the stuff provided to students: better projects, more compelling videos and pictures,
Like to use a textbook? There are ways of improving its use.
Shoot, like to do worksheets? I know that’s allegedly a bad word but man, some of the worksheets – YES, WORKSHEETS – that Sam (@samjshah) and Jeff (@devaron3) have put together put most PrBL lessons to shame (or are included in PrBL-ish lessons!).
Whatever you find compelling, you can get better at. And, you can mix-and-match, depending on the day/week/content area.
Except math instructional software.
I’ve always had a problem with instructional software and I think I’ve found the root cause: you can’t make it better or adjust it to your students’ interests or curiosities. Sure, you can adjust it according to their needs, most, like ALEKS, Cognitive Tutor, and Khan Academy can be adaptive to do that for you, but not according to students’ interest or curiosities. You can’t change on the fly. And districts spend so much on this software, or invest in so much PD in this software, that you, the teacher, kind of have to use it. Maybe this isn’t news to you but to me – who has had the pleasure of working with teachers who use such software expertly – it was an “aha” moment.
I’m not suggesting these tools have no use. But that their use is quite limited by nature. ALEKS can determine and teach a lot of things about and to a student, but it can’t determine what the student finds compelling about math. And that’s kind of the whole ballgame.