21st-Century Teaching, Learning and Leading: Bahrain School


Education_BH: Innovation and Excellence celebrates the remarkable innovations implemented in Bahrain’s schools and universities. We learned about these innovations, the process, the challenges, and the lessons learned from some of the leading educational institutions in the Kingdom. Read more in our latest issue.

An approach focusing on dynamic classrooms, flexible learning environments, and strategic data use for better outcomes, promoting inquiry-based learning, teamwork and real-world problem-solving skills in students.

21st-Century Teaching and Learning provides specific strategies for educators to ensure that all students acquire 21st-century skills and the Common Core State Standards. By incorporating a variety of strategies, educators create learning environments that promote the development of 21st-century skills in students, allowing them to deepen their knowledge of the content in the Common Core State Standards. Using 21st-century strategies, skills and the Common Core State Standards, teachers engage students in authentic real-world problems, inquiry and exploration, and application of meaningful learning.

Student-centred instruction is the intentional integration of innovative pedagogy which promotes inquiry-based learning through the effective use of differentiation strategies and technology to engage and empower learners. Inquiry-based learning is inherent in all of the student-centred strategies. In real inquiry, students follow a trail with their questions that leads to a search for resources and the discovery of answers, which ultimately leads to generating new questions, testing ideas, and drawing their conclusions. Real innovation is the drive for answers, new products, and solutions to problems.

How was the innovation planned?

Our first goal was to change the learning environment.  The learning environment which includes physical spaces, support systems, and the social-emotional climate, actively seeks the involvement of all stakeholders within the community, school, and classroom. It allows students to reason, solve problems, collaborate with others, and apply technology effectively.

The physical environment facilitates teaching and learning by providing equitable access to quality learning tools, technologies, and resources allowing the support and collaboration needed to integrate 21st-century skills into classroom practice.

When students are supported academically, socially, and emotionally, the classroom environment is more conducive to learning.

Students learn best in an environment that is academically challenging and engaging.

Leveraging a variety of support systems and resources meets individual learning needs and empowers students to become lifelong learners.

Data-driven decision-making (DDDM) is “a system of teaching and management practices that gets better information about students into the hands of classroom teachers” (McLeod, 2005). Using student data to address students’ learning needs better, through instructional decisions at the classroom, district, state, and national levels has the potential, when implemented well, to be useful for improving teaching and learning.

Differentiated Instruction is a student-centred approach encompassing a positive learning environment, quality curriculum, ongoing assessment and data, respectful/challenging tasks, and flexible grouping.

What were the challenges faced during implementation?

We have had to reconfigure classrooms to enable us to create classroom learning environments that are dynamic and flexible. The learning environment allows students to reason, solve problems, collaborate with others, and apply technology effectively. The purpose is to understand and utilise physical space, relationships, and academic rigour to increase student learning and their association of learning with the spaces and people around them.

We have created larger classrooms that accommodate an entire grade level. Within each hub, we have spaces and places throughout the classroom for small-group learning, whole-group learning, one-on-one instruction, flexible seating and a variety of mobile centres.

By having larger spaces, students and staff can continually reconfigure the room to meet the dynamic needs of learning for lessons and activities while being responsive to individual student needs. We faced some challenges during the implementation of creating these dynamic classroom spaces, but we have worked hard to provide an atmosphere that is conducive to the 21st-century concept.

Give us a brief assessment of your results.

We have currently reconfigured our grade 3, 4 and 5 classrooms, and we will continue to expand our 21st-century classroom to our early childhood grades in the coming years.

We have purchased new furniture and equipment that supports flexibility by having everything modular and mobile. We have seen great results amongst our students in grades 3, 4, and 5 in their ability to collaborate, communicate and develop strategies in problem-solving.

In hindsight, what were the most valuable lessons learned while implementing the innovation? Could things have been done differently?

This mindset is new to our educators and our parents. While students are very agile and quick to adapt, we have learned that our staff and parent population need additional support to see the value and opportunities presented to our students in a new classroom layout.

We also have to remember that the learning environment is not just about the classroom space.  Our teaching practices need to adapt and evolve to capitalise on the classroom space.  We are turning our attention to building professional development for our staff and giving them opportunities to be risk-takers and try new teaching techniques to leverage the changes we have already been able to build.  We are working to provide parents with meaningful opportunities to see our work in action and have a deeper understanding of goals and approaches to strengthening 21st-century learning for students and preparing them to be college and career-ready.

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