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The Road to a Better Education

EDS 111 – Final Sharing

Being a teacher is very noble.  A teacher has the moral responsibility to impart knowledge and information, instruct and guide others, and to cause change.  Other professionals like doctors or lawyers will not come about without teachers.  A teacher will not be a teacher without a teacher.  Thus, to be able to fulfill these duties, teachers should learn how to be effective.

Now, to be able to continue the nobility of the teaching profession, teachers should learn how to do that.  This is the realization that I had in this course.  Being a teacher does not only mean being expert in the subject matter.  It entails a lot more as the goal is to optimize student learning.  If some of my students do not do well or behave well, will being an expert in the subject matter enough?  No, because there are a lot more other things that the teacher should consider.  This is where the concepts and principles learned in this course comes in.  For example, check and balance can be done by practicing critical reflection.  The seven knowledge bases makes me as a future teacher aware of the importance of other aspects that I should look into and not just the content of what I teach.  The awareness for the need for creativity will aid me in encouraging interest and excitement in students.  The issue on diversity will guide me in maintaining respect and equality in class.  These are just some examples of how important learning these concepts/principles is.  It gives guidance in planning and creating instructions and keeps the teacher on track of the goal of teaching.

After realizing these insights, I should not stop there.  With these in mind, this early while still finishing my educational units, I should start envisioning what I will do as a teacher.  As a teacher, I should aim to produce students who are not just academically competent but also have developed skills that will be useful when they go out in the real world.  They should be ready in all aspects.  My goal should include producing students who are able to deal with problems and who are able to conduct themselves properly amidst difficulties and challenges.  For these to have, I should aim to create activities that will help students be independent, persistent, critical thinkers, problem solvers, emotionally stable, among others.

Though it will take some time until I become a full-pledged teacher and even when I will be able to practice scholarly teaching, I can start practicing how to be an effective teacher.  With the advancement of technology nowadays, I need to take advantage of the opportunity to learn.  I should add on to my knowledge what other people have studied and be critical in analyzing and selecting which of these learning will best help me in the future.

Being a teacher as mentioned entails effecting changes as well.  As a teacher, I should be open and be active in projects that will support better learning.  I should initiate changes in the teaching practice that I think is better.  For instance, the aim to produce a more student-centered type of education is something that I believe will be good so I should practice this in my own class in the future and encourage my colleagues to do the same.  Having a more well-structured and well-planned continuing professional development programs should be also be looked into as there is a need for teachers to continuously grow and learn.

Just like any other profession, the teaching profession should also be valued and given priority also when it comes to development.  Just as we value doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc., teachers are also I believe indispensable but unfortunately nowadays are not given that much importance.  As a future teacher then, I should help in maintaining the integrity of the teaching profession and do my best in achieving the goals I mentioned above.

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Understanding Effective Teaching Nowadays

EDS 111 – Module 6: Principles of Effective Teaching

What is needed to be a good teacher?  If I were to become one, what aspects do I have to make sure to keep on track?  Why do I have these questions?  Well because I believe being an expert in the subject matter and having very good teaching styles are not enough and does not stop there.  Other factors need to be considered so allow me to dwell on those below.

One challenge but what may also be considered as something to look forward to when I become a teacher is the diversity of students that I will handle.  Diversity may be in the form of race, gender, beliefs, etc., and this has a bearing on the kind of planning and creation of instructional designs that I will have to do.  In order for students to enjoy and have an interest in learning, they should be in a safe and non-discriminatory learning environment.  For this to happen, I should make sure that respect is always present in the class.  It is very important that as a model, I should have a good knowledge of the different culture, beliefs, history, etc., as only then can I design instructions for students to be aware, understand and maybe appreciate also their classmate’s culture, beliefs, etc.  Diversity does not have to be a blockade for learning but rather a means to expand our knowledge and be more aware of real-world situations.  However, it should be emphasized that it will not just be my responsibility as a teacher to develop a culturally responsive pedagogy but also it should go hand in hand with the institution that I will be working with and how they handle and arrange structures to support diversity and also the community’s involvement.

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In connection with diversity is the development of what is called inclusive, learning- friendly environment of ILFE.  This is a new term for me though the concept talks about something that I am aiming to do when I become a teacher.  It talks about that as a teacher, I should deal away from the traditional type of classroom.  For instance, I should avoid teaching facing the blackboard and my back is directed to my students.  In ILFE, a teacher should be warm, friendly and especially give attention to those who need it more.  I should arrange the students in diverse ways so that interactions with different students will be entertained.  The instructions, resources and evaluation should not just be based on standards.  Instead, I should be resourceful and creative so that there is a variety of material and activities done.  This kind of learning environment will benefit not just the students and teachers but also the parents and community as they take part also in the activities of the students.

Now, mentioned above is the gearing away from traditional types of teaching and one way to do this is to be creative.  Especially in the world today, the onset of the 21st century opened the young generation to a lot more activities and possibilities.  As a teacher, I should also learn to adapt.  Yes, I may not have the talent for art but that should not stop me from being creative.  When I say creative, it means that I should be able to plan and create instructional designs that are new and original, able to use critical thinking, and practical or the applicability of the learning and ideas into real-world situations.  I know challenges will be there because anything that does not follow the norm will be questioned, but as a teacher, I should learn to take risks and be open.  The activities should develop their motivation and my feedback should be given in a such a way that they view it as a positive one.  Again, this is more possible with the help of all stakeholders.

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So, does it stop there?  When I am able to do all of the above, will I be a good teacher forever?  Just like any other profession, the answer would be no.  Learning is a continuous process and that is also true for teachers.  Thus, as a teacher, I should continuously reflect on my teaching.  I should aim to practice scholarly teaching.  This kind of teaching entails consulting the literature or colleagues on what are the appropriate information needed in teaching to have a good resultant learning.  However, there is another term that is introduced in this module and one that is of big importance for a teacher.  This is the scholarship of teaching and learning or SoTL which aims to understand how students learn effectively and how it is influenced by teaching.  By the use of appropriate media, this will then become part of the knowledge base in teaching and learning in higher education.  Teachers are encouraged to engage in SoTL because it is a sign of professionalism in that it is a professional’s role and responsibility and because it is a way to examine a teacher’s work and a way to influence the work of colleagues.

For me then, being a teacher entails patience and perseverance.  Finishing my units in education and hopefully passing the licensure exam one day should not stop my learning.  There have been a lot of studies and the accessibility of technology now makes it more possible for resources to be available both for students and teachers.  Students should not be the only ones who should be open and able to adapt.  Teachers too should do that and along with the passion for teaching is the continuous desire to find ways to improve student learning.

References:

Brown, A., Forde, T. & Richards, H.  (2004).  Addressing Diversity in Schools: Culturally Responsive Pedagogy.  Retrieved from http://www.niusileadscape.org/docs/FINAL_PRODUCTS/NCCRESt/practitioner_briefs/%95%20TEMPLATE/DRAFTS/AUTHOR%20revisions/annablis%20pracbrief%20templates/Diversity_Brief_highres.pdf

Martin, Lynn.  (2007).  Defining the Scholarship of Teaching versus Scholarly Teaching.  Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (46).  Retrieved from https://www.stlhe.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/STLHE-Newsletter-46-2007-Summer.pdf

Yearning for More Learning

EDS 111 – Module 5: Professional Development and Professional Learning Community

Being the teacher does not mean that you are the end-all of all knowledge.  There is the concept of humility which a teacher should possess in his practice.  What does this mean?  This means that in class, even if the teacher is the most knowledgeable of the subject matter at hand, he should not boast to know everything and that he cannot learn anything more so from the students.  Humility means admitting and knowing that one does not know something.

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In this day and age, there are a lot of changes, new technology, new discoveries, new concepts and the like.  As a professional, I am faced with the challenge of enhancing and updating my skills in my line of work to remain competitive with my colleagues especially those who are new and are equipped with up-to-date knowledge regarding my profession.  I believe this is the same for all professionals; teachers included.  Graduating as a teacher does not mean that learning stops but rather it is a continuous process in order to be an effective teacher.  Thus, reflecting on this module, I have come up with some insights on what I am supposed to do when I become one.

For one, it is very important that I be an observer and inquirer and not just a spectator.  To attain the goal of effective teaching, I should have the interest to do such and be inquisitive on the ways on how to do it.  Being a spectator will just lead to passively looking at something without interest and this will not fill my hunger to learn.  Another is to engage in constructive learning opportunities.  There are a lot of ways to do this which includes foremost, learning by reflecting on my practice.  The other ways to do such is to grab opportunities of learning which include sessions of continuous professional development.  There are a lot of these right now and I have to be careful in choosing one that will enhance my lifelong learning and not the limited or confined type.

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There are different kinds of CPDs.  Of these, I want to point out that teachers should aim to have the teacher learning orientation type which focuses on revitalizing and              re-imagining versus the traditional training approach which focuses on retooling and remodelling.  To give a bird’s eye view, the teaching learning orientation is more of the collaborative and transformative type, involving students in the learning process, not confined to existing and proven framework, and aims to make the teacher reflective, inquisitive, active and autonomous.  The traditional approach, on the other hand, is based on a limited approach, teaching teachers on confined and proven standards of teaching, treating teachers are passive participants, and just view teacher learning as a transmission from an expert.  Given such distinctions, I, as a teacher, would like to aim for the teacher learning orientation.  For me, it is more lifelong and the target of that is not just improving my teaching methods but rather the profession as a whole because it entails collaboration and the desire to seek solutions to problems that came about out of collaboration with students, colleagues and the community.  Thus, in choosing the right CPD, I have to see which ones will produce extension or new skills and knowledge, growth or development of a higher level of expertise, and renewal or the transformation of knowledge and practice.

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It should always be put in mind that teachers are seen as models and the way to inspire students to aim for achievement is to be a model that is holistic and this can only be done by continuously learning.  I have read and watched that nowadays, there is the existence of professional learning communities wherein these are defined as groups of educators that regularly meet to share expertise and work collaboratively to address teaching issues and ways to improve the performance of students.  This is a very comforting idea in that not only have we shied away from the one-size-fits-all instruction but also that it is good that students are now considered as parts of the learning process and not just receivers of knowledge.  This shift allowed the development of such strategies to pinpoint the problems of education and helping each other so that optimum learning can happen.  As of now, there are challenges to this concept like time constraints of participants and improper implementation, but in the future, I think I would like to be a part of it.  I like their belief that “Every teacher is your teacher and every student is your student”.

To sum it up, it should be recognized that teacher learning is one important component of good education.  For students to achieve their goals, they should have teachers who are confident in their practice and empowered enough to know that they can deliver essential and updated knowledge and skills to students.  So, by the time I finish and be called a teacher, there will be new concepts already thus I should maintain open mindedness and be receptive to changes and learning.

 

References:

Darling-Hammond, Linda.  (1999, May 1).  Teacher Learning That Supports Student Learning: What Teachers Need to Know.  Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/teacher-learning-supports-student-learning

Sachs, Judyth.  Learning to improve or improving learning: the dilemma of teacher continuing professional development.  Retrieved from http://www.fm-kp.si/zalozba/ISBN/978-961-6573-65-8/009-020.pdf

Being Open to New Perspectives

EDS 111 – Module 4: Teaching Perspectives and Approaches

The teacher is seen as the authority in class.  Traditionally, classrooms are teacher centered, that is, the teacher is the source of knowledge, doing most of the talking, spoon feeding students and just transferring knowledge to students.  Along with knowledge is the culture, principles and beliefs of the teacher that should be imposed.  Over time, different perspectives have arisen which in a nutshell views students to not merely be passive participants in the learning process but rather are active collaborators in learning.  Is this good and feasible or are just idealistic perspectives?

Having my education in the ‘80s and ‘90s, my education can be described as belonging to the traditional type of teaching.  This made me develop attitudes and behaviors to help me survive and finish my education.  This entails behaviors to cope up with summative assessments and viewing and relying on my teachers as the source of knowledge as another factor then was the lack of technology compared to the present time.  I viewed assessments done by my teachers as tests to assess my memory and viewed learning as having passing grades.  After college, I did not know what to do.  Well, as one can see, this is not an ideal way of teaching and learning.

Now, times have changed.  Resources in this module provided a basis to change my way of looking at teaching and learning.  It widened my thinking on what can be called a more productive way of teaching and learning.  As stated above, my not knowing what to do after college made me realize if the education I had contributed to this uncertainty.  Well, maybe as if analyzed, I became dependent on my teacher for my learning.  I adapted myself on the way of teaching that was given to me and was not really able to think for myself what I am capable of doing and what I really want to do.

Going through this module, I realized that there is more to teaching and learning other than knowing all the facts about the different disciplines.  It dawned on me that school should not just impart knowledge but also the skills, behaviors and attitudes one needs to deal with real-like problems and situations.  I went through what one might call as “learning the hard way” in terms of being unprepared to face the real life in terms of working and dealing with everyday life.  This is the reason why I think my learning in this module will be a big help when I become an educator one day.

Change is hard and there will be a lot of challenges to face transitioning from traditional to contemporary ways of teaching.  However, the main goal should be not to finish the syllabus or the course guide but more on making sure that students learn what they need to to prepare them for the future.  The perspective of making the student the center is the guide that I would want to keep in mind always.  I think having this in mind, I will be able to design instructions that take into consideration the differences in the learners that will be given to me and to create activities to promote active engagement.  It is by this guideline that I will be able to play more roles other than just a lecturer, that is, I can be a learning coach, a guide or a collaborator, among others.  I can help students personalize their learning and help them be more accountable for their learning.  This perspective also made me realize that in helping learners to know how to learn, I also will have to continuously learn.

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To sum it up, the quote “no man is an island” can be applied even here in education.  To be an effective teacher, I should make sure that my students have a deeper learning.  To be good at what I do, I should be open to change and to other perspectives and be able to choose which one will I think will help me in achieving my goals to produce students with real-life and life-long learning.  There is the propensity to stay within my comfort zone especially if a teaching style worked once or twice but if I aim to be an effective teacher, I should always be alert to not fall for challenges including the one-size-fits-all teaching method tendency.  This is where collaboration with colleagues, students and the community is very important as it will improve my creativity and innovation.  Being open to technology and communication can aid me in being an effective teacher and effecting optimum learning.  All in all, these new perspectives are both an eye opener and a validation of what I believe will work to achieve my goal to help students succeed.

Reference:

Peterson, P. & Wilson, Suzanne.  (2006, July).  Theories of Learning and Teaching What Do They Mean for Educators?  Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED495823.pdf

Scott, Cynthia Luna.  (2015, December 15).  The Futures of Learning 3: What Kind of Pedagogies for the 21st Century?  Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002431/243126e.pdf

Expanding the Knowledge Needed for Teaching

Module 3: Knowledge Base of Teaching

I remember when I was in elementary, I looked up to my teachers especially those who were able to answer all the questions given to them.  It’s like they know even the tiniest bit of detail of the topic at hand.  From this, I can say that my idea of a good teacher then is someone who knows everything about the subject matter.  When I reached high school, I observed that students are more varied in terms of their attitudes and behaviors.  The students have a bigger voice and are more active in making known their viewpoints.  Because of this, teachers should be able to handle them in such a way that they can be heard but at the same time maintain their respect to the teachers.  As a teacher, one has to have good classroom management skills and teaching strategies that can adapt and fit the learners that they have.  My definition of effective teaching has expanded.  When I reached college, I can say that I was more conscious then of my studies compared to previous years.  I knew that it was time to be serious about my studies as my future will depend on it.  I became aware of the curriculum of my school, the goals of my course and how my teachers taught me.  I became critical in observing who among my teachers were using effective styles, who among them teach in accordance with the curriculum and the course objectives, etc.  Now, after reading this module, it dawned on me that my realizations before regarding what an effective teacher is have basis.  Allow me to discuss it below.

This module made me aware that there are what are called knowledge bases.  It was wrong for me to define an effective teacher as only having expertise in the subject matter or content knowledge.  There are knowledge bases that a teacher should have.  My observation in high school regarding a teacher being able to use different styles in teaching because of the different characteristics or kinds of students is referring to the general pedagogical knowledge and knowledge of learners respectively.  In high school also, though it was more obvious for me in college, my teachers taught me according to the set syllabus or course guide for my course and in accordance to the requirements of my course of Bachelor of Science Major in Biology.  These are in accordance to other categories of knowledge base that a teacher should have namely curriculum knowledge and knowledge of educational ends, purposes and values.  I also commend some of my teachers before who value the cultural diversity of the students or the fact that students come from different communities.  Amidst the trend of going with the flow of being westernized, these teachers made use of what they know about these cultural differences and social groupings to design instructions to help us in our learning (knowledge of educational contexts).  This also entailed their use of different techniques like reporting, group discussion, field trips to impart the subject matter (pedagogical content knowledge).

Moving forward, as a future educator, I should make sure that I will be able to have these knowledge bases.  The common knowledge that a teacher should only have content knowledge, effective classroom management skills and good teaching styles should be modified and include the other knowledge bases discussed above.  Then, having these knowledge bases, I should learn how to make use of these to reason out and decide what I am supposed to do to effect optimum learning.  Having a lot of knowledge is not enough.  The challenge will then be how to use this knowledge for effective teaching.  As a future teacher then, I should understand the concept of pedagogical reasoning and action.  This is a cycle that should be followed by a teacher to achieve the educational goals.  The cycle includes comprehension, transformation, instruction, evaluation, reflection and which then leads to new comprehension.

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I have heard a lot of times that being a teacher is not that easy yet the fulfillment a teacher receives when seeing that his students learned from him is incomparable.  A teacher continuously learns so that optimum learning of students can be attained.  The concepts given above are very helpful to be an effective teacher and alongside that is the attitude of being open to learning and to change.  Take for example the use of technology nowadays to aid in teaching.  No matter how traditional a teacher wants to be, I believe that one trait that a teacher should have now is flexibility.  Besides, teachers are given the right to reason out and be able to select what he thinks will be most suited in his line of teaching.  Nowadays, it has been shown that the use of the TPACK framework (technology, pedagogy and content knowledge) has been very positive.  There is no doubt that there will be other frameworks or strategies that will discovered in the future.  As a future teacher then, I am claiming now that I will practice open-mindedness, critical thinking, reflection and dedication among others.  There are a lot of things that I am learning now that I believe can help me be an effective teacher in the future and hopefully I can be one someday.

References:

Mkoehler.  (2012, September 24).  TPACK Explained.  Retrieved from http://matt-koehler.com/tpack2/tpack-explained/

Strom, Sharon.  (1991).  The Knowledge Base for Teaching. ERIC Digest.  Retrieved from https://www.ericdigests.org/pre-9219/base.htm