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EDS 111: Conclusion

This is my final journal entry for this course, but I feel like there is still so much more to learn that I could not possibly end it here.  This whole journal thing made me reflect not just about the lessons in this course but also about my life and the road that I am taking or will still have to take in the future.

My knowledge about the teaching profession before I took this course was very superficial. I thought then that as long as I have the information and the materials, then I’m good to go to teach a class. But I was wrong, as there are several other things that I must work on if I wanted to be effective in my practice, to influence lives, and create change, and not just blindly teach students. I learned that a teacher does not stand in front of the class just to impart knowledge but also to improve students’ attitude and perspectives in life. This is a big responsibility, but that is reality.

Cliché as it may sound, I think that teaching is a very noble profession. You need to work even outside regular office hours because you need to check exam papers, mark submissions, and monitor and evaluate students. The time that is supposedly allotted for yourself or for your family may be taken away from you because of these tasks. Further, teachers are even blamed when students do not learn when in fact, there are other factors that could contribute to such. Despite these, very big responsibilities, teachers are left with a meager salary and lots of liabilities to pay. Because of these realizations, I appreciate the efforts made by all teachers in the world in order to influence their students’ lives and hopefully to stir change.

As a person who seeks to become a teacher in the near future, I have been armed with necessary knowledge about teaching principles through EDS 111. This heightened my desire to continually learn to be able to teach effectively. I am sincerely hoping that someday, I’ll keep these learnings in use.

I would like to salute our Faculty-in-Charge, Teacher Roja Rivera, for being one of the most patient, responsive, and responsible teachers that I’ve had in my stay at UPOU. She is a role model for us aspiring teachers. Kudos Teacher! Congratulations, classmates!

 

 

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Module 3E: The More, The Better

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I would like to reflect on this module by interpreting this post’s title in several ways:

The more, the better. The more the teacher seek for professional development, the better. Learning is a lifelong process, cliché as it may seem. But that is just how it works. As long as we live, we will continue to acquire new information, learn new skills, or appreciate things in different perspectives depending on how we understand them. As for teachers, I believe that it is essential that they subject themselves in activities that will enable them to learn further for the benefit of the students that they teach or will teach. Teachers can enroll in advanced degrees or they can join training-workshops or seminars in order to update their knowledge and skills with the current trends and innovations. As mentioned, with this advancements, students will be able to learn more because of the efforts made by their teachers. However, not all educators are open to this because of financial and time constraints, their attitudes and beliefs, and the lack of support from their workplace as well as their families. The government can do so much by giving out support to the teachers so that they can pursue lifelong learning.

The more, the better. The more the teacher seek for scholarship of teaching and learning, the better. Students will always be the beneficiaries of a teacher’s efforts that is why a teacher’s concern for his/her students can make him/her question the effectiveness of his/her methods, strategies, and media being used. It is much better if the teacher will always think about student learning and how he/she can further improve the instruction to also improve the students. Research studies in this area must also be shared to the public so that they, too, can benefit from one’s best practices.

The more, the better. The more the teacher engage in professional learning communities, the better. When teachers as well as students are open to the exchange of ideas, arguments, and information, among others, it will foster a good academic relationship among them. Students will grow confidence in themselves and may strive hard to be able to share more to the group. They will be given a chance to express themselves and to share their take on things. Further, they will feel that they are not just the receiver but the source of information as well. As for the teachers, engaging in professional learning communities can allow them to collaborate with their co-teachers and peers. It can enable them to learn from their best practices which they can apply in their own classroom. Moreover, their open communication with their students will enable them to hear out their sentiments thereby making it easier to tailor fit classroom activities with the needs and interests of the students.

References:

Center for Engaged Learning (Producer). (2013, September 9). Key Characteristics of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning [Video file].

Center for Engaged Learning (Producer). (2013, August 16). Scholarship of Teaching and Learning vs. Scholarly Teaching [Video file].

Haigh, N. (2010). The Scholarship of Teaching & Learning: A practical introduction and critique. Auckland, NZ.

Roberts, S. & Pruitt, E. Z. (2009). The professional learning community: An overview (Chapter 1). In Schools as professional learning communities: Collaborative activities and strategies for professional development (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press, pp. 1-25

Soni, S. (2012). Lifelong learning – Education and training. FIG Working Week 2012, Rome, Italy.

Photo credit: Link

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Module 3D: An Introvert’s Take on Reflective Teaching

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I guess being an introvert poses a lot of advantages as to the topic of reflection.  I mean, I am a type of person who likes to observe and think about things most of the time. I’m fond of replaying random memories in my mind and analyze how different people looks at the same situation in different perspectives. I believe that it is one line close to overthinking, and overthinking sometimes does damage to people, but that is how my mind works. It has become a part of my life that I think without curious reflection, I will not be who I am today. I still need to be polished in different aspects, but I can say that reflection has improved me in a lot of ways, including my relationships with people around me.

I haven’t realized, until upon going through the reading for this module, that reflection is a principle that is fostered in the field of teaching. To become a reflective teacher, I realized that I need to have the right mental attitude because the process on becoming one is taxing and complicated. One needs to be patient and conscious enough to ensure active reflection. One concept that is added to what I already know is the difference between reflection-in-process and reflection-on-process. I usually do the latter such that I reflect on my actions after I have done it. However, I realized that in teaching, it is more effective to employ the former because you get to adjust with your methods and strategies as you do them, and when you reflected that there is a need to. In this way, you get to consciously apply the theories that you have learned and maul over more appropriate ways of applying them.

It should not stop there; a reflective practitioner needs to make an effort to improve his/her ways through the use of research and consulting more experienced individuals in the field. He/She then could incorporate these to the activity being developed and then implement it next chance there is. I mean, I realized that this should be a cyclic process, so as for the activities and for the teacher to be polished more.

When I finally become a teacher or trainer in a traditional setting, I would be conscious enough with everything there is in the classroom: my methods and strategies, media being used, students’ reactions, my nuances, my non-verbal expressions, and other important things. I would ensure to put effort in my reflection in order to be a better practitioner of my profession.

References:

Grant, C., & Zeichner, K. On Becoming a Reflective Teacher. Retrieved November 07, 2015 from http://www.wou.edu/~girodm/foundations/Grant_and_Zeichner.pdf

OpenLearn. (2014). Learning to teach: Becoming a reflective practitioner. Available at http://www.open.edu/openlearn/education/learning-teach-becoming-reflective-practitioner/content-section-0

Scales, P. (2008). The reflective teacher. Teaching in the lifelong learning sector, 7 – 26. Maidenhead, Berkshire: Open University Press.

Image source: Link

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Module 3C: Let’s be creative!

When I was a student (well technically I’m still a student but I am referring to my elementary and high school days), I have always detested teachers who would want to make us do activities like role-playing, presentations, and other group collaborations whenever possible. I’m an introvert, so working with people not close to me is really a stressful task, and doing a lot of various activities frequently is also taxing. I thought, “Why do I need to do this activity when I can learn simply by reading or having a plain discussion?” That was me several years ago. But now, especially after going through this week’s readings, I realized that these are strategies of teachers to make class discussions more creative. And I, as a student, should be thankful because of the effort offered by my teachers.

Being a creative teacher requires a lot: effort, time, and other resources. He/She needs to think carefully what kind of activity to initiate that will ensure effective learning as well as artistry, originality, and innovation. A teacher needs to be able to connect key points of lessons to the activities performed, and should also consider students’ inputs and contributions to discussions.

I believe that when a teacher is creative, he/she can also harness creativity from the students. Their mindset is not to be satisfied on mediocre outputs and their actions will not remain complacent.  They will strive harder to fit well in the creative environment that their teacher has created. I also believe that eventually, students may internalize this creativity and apply this in their lives outside school.

However, teachers need to be careful in incorporating too much creativity in their teaching because people, especially students and their parents, might misinterpret this for indolence and irresponsibility. They might conclude that these kinds of teachers want to unload their tasks and pass them to students, and they are just sugarcoating it as a “class activity”. If this happens, teachers might feel judged and misinterpreted, which can affect their performance as a whole. That is why teachers need to be careful that objectives are presented before the activity and that they find time to synthesize everything afterwards.

My final note for this module is that I think, being a creative teacher is not easy in my case because of my lack in imagination and creative juices. Nevertheless, I will look back to how my teachers inspired us to learn more and think out of the box so that I, too, can be as creative as they are.

References:

Cremin, T. (2009). Creative teachers and creative teaching (Chapter 3). In Wilson, A. (Ed.). Creativity in Primary Education (2nd ed.). Southernhay East, Exeter: Learning Matters, pp. 36–46.

Henriksen, D., & Mishra, P. (2013). Learning from creative teachers. Educational Leadership, 70(5). Available at http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb13/vol70/num05/Learning-from-Creative-Teachers.aspx

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Module 3B: Taking in Teaching Skills

As an online teacher, or as a trainer, I always want my students/participants to get the best learning experience that they could get. I tend to think small of myself whenever I feel that I did not provide my students the knowledge and skills as well as the treatment that they deserve. I know that I cannot be perfect as a person or even as a teacher, but that does not stop me from thinking that I need to act upon everything that surrounds my students.

Module 3B made me realize that indeed, teachers need to consider a lot of factors in order to be an effective educator. First, instructional planning is a must to facilitate efficient delivery of content as well as considering student characteristics. I believe that when learning objectives, teaching strategies, and assessment are aligned, success in learning is inevitable. Further, having a well-defined and organized instructional plan can create a flexible teacher. This is because if he/she is abreast of the activities and learning goals for a specific session, sudden need for changes will not deter him/her. The teacher can still pursue with the teaching session since he/she is familiar with the content and activities in the plan. This poses an advantage because having an instructional plan can allow teachers to review and refresh lessons prior to the class itself.

In my opinion, the most challenging aspect of instructional planning is Deciding How to Teach because in this area, the teacher actually delivers the content and implement what is there in the instructional plan. Teaching is a performance so educators need to show that they are masters of their content and that they can teach them well. To help teachers in overcoming this challenge, they should be capacitated through seminars and trainings so as to share best practices among themselves.

Another thing that I learned in this module is that knowing one’ students is very essential in achieving an effective classroom management. Teachers need to know the personal as well as psychological needs of the students. He/She cannot generalize and blindly implement teaching approaches because in that case, teaching will not be as effective as when student characteristics and needs are considered. In terms of approaches, teachers can employ different techniques depending on the need of the class. I learned that most teachers still employ a traditional approach wherein strict discipline is imposed to students. I was inspired to take on a liberal progressive approach, in which I would like my students to take part in the decision making process inside the classroom. I want to make them as responsible as possible. But of course, this still depends on the level of students, because the latter is more applicable to adult learners, and not on children.

Student diversity is a reality inside the classroom. Students have different learning styles, abilities, attitudes, and cultural orientations. I learned that teachers need to treat each student as unique and do his/her best to address each of their leaning needs considering these differences. When this is done so, a positive student-teacher relationship can be formed. And in dealing with students, teachers need to have good interpersonal skills.

To cap it all, I know that educators need not be perfect, because there is no such thing as that in the first place. Even so, teachers can do so much to make learning as an effective, fun and memorable experience for themselves and most especially, for their students.

References:

Airasian, P. W., Engemann, J. F., and Gallagher, T. L. (2007). Instructional planning and assessment (Chapter 3). In Classroom assessment: Concepts and applications – First Canadian edition. Toronto, ON, Canada: McGraw-Hill Ryerson.

Algozzine, B. and Ysseldyke, J. (2006). What are the components of effective instruction (Chapter 1). In Effective instruction for students with special needs: A practical guide for every teacher. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press.

Cruickshank, D. R., Metcalf, K. K., & Jenkins, D. B. (2009). Teaching diverse students (Chapter 3). In The act of teaching. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Jones, Vern. (2015). Understanding effective classroom management (Chapter 1). In Practical classroom management (2nd ed.). Boston: Pearson, pp 1 -16

Scarlett, W. G., Ponte, I. C., & Singh, J. P. (2009). Building positive teacher – student relationships (Chapter 3). In Approaches to behavior and classroom management. SAGE Publications.)

 

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Module 3A: On Knowledge Base and TPACK

The module for this week discussed about the knowledge base of teachers as well as the concept of Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge. Before studying the modules, my mind is closed to thinking that the most important thing educators must focus on is their expertise or the content of their lessons. While this may be true, knowledge should not be limited to content alone, as there are also other categories of knowledge that a teacher must learn.

As an online trainer to Japanese students, I get to experience using various technologies to effectively teach English lessons to them. First off, I familiarized myself with the features of the video conferencing software, Skype. It was not difficult since I already had an experience using this application. However, using it for the actual class is a bit challenging especially when students want to share their outputs with me through the share screen feature. Also, some students are not familiar with the usage of Skype, thus I also need to give them instructions so that we can proceed with our lesson.

This experience that I shared to you implies that a teacher’s knowledge must encompass, aside from content, principle and strategies in managing the [virtual] classroom, the characteristics of the learners, as well as the management of the whole educational system, among others. This will allow him/her to harmonize everything and deliver quality education to students. In the example, it is pertinent that I know how to use the technology/online platform to ensure that our class can maximize academic instruction. It is also of equal importance that I know the ability and level of understanding of my students, as well as their attitudes towards the class, so that I can adjust to them.

I believe that there are various sources of knowledge for teachers, be it references, colleagues, research findings, media, and even their own observation. Therefore, the ways on how to improve and expand their knowledge base is also numerous. For one, teachers can attend conferences and seminars, conduct research studies, and collaborate with their colleagues in order to continually progress in their field.

As with the issue of technological knowledge to be used in coherence with pedagogical and content knowledge, not all teachers are receptive with the new educational technologies introduced to them. Some are even afraid to use them because they might end up unsuccessful in the pursuit of their teaching goals. Thus, the educational institution, together with the government, must exert efforts to encourage educators in utilizing various technologies for teaching. They must extend adequate financial and moral support to inspire teachers to be better in their profession.

References:

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054. doi: 10.1111/j.1467- 9620.2006.00684.x.

Shulman, L.S. (1987). Knowledge and teaching: Foundations of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57, 1-21

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Module 2: Tackling Teacher Professionalism

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This week’s module served as an eye-opener for me because my impression about teacher professionalism is not as profound as it ought to be. Prior to reading the materials, I think of it as how teachers conduct themselves in front of their class and how they abide to ethical and moral standards. The readings sort of slapped me in the face and said, “Hey you, wake up, it’s not as easy as it seems to be.”’ Well I admit, it does not seem easy but I believe that that understanding is so much easier compared to what teacher professionalism truly means.

Teacher professionalism goes beyond the walls of the classroom. I learned that as time went by, certain social, economic, and political changes affected how people consider teaching as a profession. There was a time when teachers possess the discretion on what and how their students learn. However, time came when parents gained the right to interfere with their children’s learning. Their opinions on matters that are supposed to be handled by the teachers were given much importance. Teachers are compelled to listen to what the parents are saying and consider them in his/her methodologies and techniques. I guess that this is frustrating on the part of the educators because they are the ones who studied for several years to be expertd in their field, and yet, they have to adequately cater for the parent’s feedback. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that the latter’s opinions are also important, but the responsibility should still be given to the teachers.

Another interesting issue is the teaching profession being denied to be called an expert profession because of the unclear knowledge base compared to engineers and doctors. Reflective practice is then seen as a phenomenon that can make the profession be considered as a real profession rather than a para-profession. Teachers derive significant amount of knowledge from their wealth of experiences when they transmit learning to their students. In connection, educators also need to establish satisfactory performance and quality in teaching and they need to meet certain criteria and standards set forth by an external regulating body. This issues, though just a part of a whole, are enough to conclude that teacher professionalism is indeed very challenging.

Allow me to also say some things about theorizing practices in this context. For a year now, I have worked in a University (not as a teacher, though) and witnessed how publication of journal articles, writing of books, and presentation of studies in conferences, among others, can help increase the ranks of faculty members. This suggests that these methods of “preserving” and “storing” knowledge and experiences in practice are given importance. Future generations of educators and other academic professionals can therefore make use of these studies. When an information is shared to the public or is made available for the whole system, then that can boost professionalism. On another matter, collective autonomy was also emphasized in this module. This suggests that the power of teachers’ professional organization over the crafting of rules and standards on the personal conduct of the teachers in the schools that they work in can be considered an essential part of the profession’s independence.

To conclude this post, let me give you what I exactly said in one of the fora for this topic: “Authorities and regulating bodies may keep on imposing rules to the professionalism of teachers, so long as appropriate wage and satisfying benefits are given to them. Teachers abroad are able to get this but the situation is not the same in our country. Educators need to comply with certain standards while keeping the ends meet for their respective families. What I mean is that it’s very challenging to keep up to the profession; but wouldn’t it be much easier if they do that while they receive what they really deserve?”

References:

Gamble J. (2010). Teacher professionalism: a literature review. Johannesburg: JET

Whitty, G. & Wisby, E. (2006). Moving beyond recent education reform – and towards a democratic professionalism. Hitotsubashi Journal of Social Studies, 38(1): 43-61.