Monthly Archives: March 2015

My last entry for EDS 111

Earlier during this course, we were asked to answer these:

What denotes effective teaching for you? Provide justification/s for your answer.
What do you think are the characteristics and skills that teachers should possess in order to become effective teachers? Why?
What is the role of teachers for you?

1. My earlier response was that, effective teaching should go beyond the ability to come up with creative lesson plans and submitting grades on time. For me, it means ensuring that students are given experiences both in and outside their courses that will allow them to achieve their intended learning outcomes. These desired learning outcomes may be the students’ immediate goals that are relative to their reason(s) for finishing the course or they may also come as experiences that students may look back at for guidance as they deal with life in general. For instance, more than the subject matter, I remember my teachers teaching me life- lessons that I value ’til this very day like being honest, fair, hardworking, patient, compassionate etc. These are the same values that I impart with my own daughter as she slowly goes through life and faces challenges and opportunities for the first time.
Like what was mentioned above, I strongly believe that effective teachers must be honest and fair. Heck, we all should be regardless of what our professions are. Honesty and fairness should serve as our guiding principles in whatever we do. Effective teachers must also be hardworking in the sense that they strive to be better and not be stuck in a rut especially in this day and age where technology plays a very important role in teaching and learning. Patient and compassionate, as they will most likely deal with different individuals who obviously have unique needs and learning styles. Therefore, an effective teacher must truly learn to take the time to know their students on a personal level to determine the best approach or approaches that will work for them. And, in doing so, the challenge to be creative is then put to the test.

I will always identify teachers as second parents whose primary role is to educate our minds and to nurture our whole being. They can be our friend, our mentor, our critic or anything else that we can imagine them to be as I know that teachers wear all sorts of hats in order to effectively communicate or reach out to their intended audience.

After having been exposed to the various teachings in this course, I realized that effective teaching involves a lot more than just “having the knowledge and skill sets in teaching” or “having the passion to teach”. Effective teaching instead requires a gamut of elements that create the whole package. For instance, when we talk about knowledge base, it is not as simple as knowing what to teach your students. Rather, knowledge itself is a complex element on its own. Knowledge can pertain to 1) subject matter content knowledge, (Koehler, 2011), which is the understanding of the central facts, concepts, theories and procedures in teaching the actual subject matter that is to be taught or learned. Knowledge can also pertain to 2) Pedagogical knowledge, (Koehler, 2011) which pertains to the understanding of the processes and practices of teaching and learning. It is the broad understanding of all the elements involved in student learning like lesson plan development, classroom management, student evaluation, teaching techniques or methods to be used in the classroom, understanding of diverse learners ( target audience) and their methods of learning or how they construct their own knowledge and acquire their own skills. Knowledge may also refer to 3) pedagogical content knowledge, which may involve the understanding of students’ prior knowledge, pedagogical techniques, knowledge of what makes concepts difficult to learn, knowledge of teaching strategies etc., or 4) curricular knowledge, which is the knowledge on the systematic and intended packaging of competencies that learners should acquire through organized learning experiences both in formal and non- formal setting. (see: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/strengthening education-system/quality-framework/core-resources/curriculum/)

This brings me to my point that effective teaching requires the understanding of a complex kind of knowledge that is combined with proper skills and disposition. This means that effective teaching does not only mean that you understand “what” to teach, but it involves an understanding of “who” you are to teach, “how” to teach, them, “when” it is appropriate to teach, and even the question of “why” you teach. Knowledge in short involves not just the teacher’s know-how of the subject matter, rather, it involves an understanding of the methods and strategies in teaching, the understanding of students–including their background (culture, ethnicity, race, tradition, etc. ), the understanding of students’ prior knowledge and experiences, as well as their strengths and limitations.

Also, effective teaching requires that teachers possess skills that will enable them to do their professional practice. Like what Charlotte Danielson (2007) discussed in Enhancing Professional Practice, teachers are expected to have the skills to 1) plan and prepare, which involves their knowledge of content and pedagogy, their knowledge of their students, selection of instructional materials and other resources to use, and designing of student assessments, 2) manage classroom environment which involves establishing a culture that promotes learning, respect and rapport with one another, managing students’ behaviors and classroom procedures, 3) provide instructions, which involves communicating with students, using questioning and discussion techniques, engaging students in learning and demonstrating flexibility and responsiveness, and lastly, 4) demonstrate professional responsibilities, which entails reflection on teaching, maintaining accurate records of students’ progress, communicating with families, participation in a professional community, showing professionalism and growing and developing professionally.

I also learned that effective teaching requires reflection. Reflection about one’s experiences is a cornerstone of professional competence. (York-Barr, Sommers, Ghere & Montie, 2006). It is through reflection that one can make rational choices, be open- minded and introspective and be willing to accept responsibility for decisions and actions. Without reflection, teachers will fail to facilitate learning and will not be able to achieve professional growth. Reflection is also important in effective teaching for it allows the review and reassessment of practice and procedures not just in classroom management but in an instructional environment as well.

Another important learning for me is that of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). I am a firm believer of collaborative learning and SoTL for me is a validation that effective teaching is a “group” effort amongst all educators. The idea that effective teachers must always stay hungry for knowledge puts emphasis on the need for continuous reflection and professional growth, while the need to make public new learning and discoveries highlights the roles of effective teachers as catalyst for change and development in their students’ lives and the society.

2. on TPI

When I first did TPI, my results indicated that my dominant perspectives were transmission (39), apprenticeship (36) and nurturing (35). And, my initial reaction was that the results were spot-on. This is because I have always viewed teaching primarily as the transfer of knowledge from teacher to student while all other aspects are secondary. However, after having gone through intensive reading and learning of the various components of effective teaching and after having done TPI the second time, my results now indicate that my dominant perspectives are nurturing (41), developmental (39) and a tie between apprenticeship and social reform (37), whereas my minor perspective now is transmission (36). I suppose that this only goes to show that although I value the importance of knowledge, I am now more open to the idea that knowledge is not the sole primary component that makes up an effective teacher. If anything, my TPI results only prove that I am capable of finding a balance between caring for my students while challenging them to learn, and that I can promote an environment of trust, encouragement and support where challenging but reasonable goals can be set and where self- efficacy will never be sacrificed in favor of academic achievement. As for my developmental perspective, my take on this, after having had the experience of learning this course, is that I should continue to change how I think as a learner and not just see learning as an acquisition of facts, concepts and theories. Rather, I should develop a more complex and sophisticated way of reasoning and solving problems and must always be open to changing the old ways to give way to new knowledge and experience.

3. My realization is that I am not even close to becoming half of what an effective teacher is. I have realized that I have a long way to go in terms of my knowledge. I strongly feel that graduating from a four- year course was just the first step into what I truly want to be. This proves that learning is a continuous process and that I should always find the time and courage to learn more and that I must never feel content with what I already know because the truth of the matter is, there is so much more to learn. As an aspiring teacher, I have realized that for my sake and for my students’ sake, I must always strive to go further with my education and that is where UPOU plays an important role. Despite the many challenges and stumbling blocks, I consider myself fortunate to be given this opportunity to learn. And, with the objective of making a positive difference in my students’ lives, I will make sure not to give up and instead be motivated to succeed despite the odds.
Also, I realized that to be an effective teacher, it is not enough that I have the passion to teach. I must develop all those characteristics mentioned above for me to truly inspire and motivate my students. I must also put into good use my discovery of my dominant teaching perspectives and strengthen the minor ones. This, however, means that I will not put priority only on one or two perspectives, rather, I will make the most out of all the perspectives that I have in order for me to have a holistic approach on teaching. I also realized that not only am I supposed to understand better how my (future) students can best think and reason about the content that I will teach them but I must also learn how to awaken my students’ values and ideologies that may help them take a more active role in the improvement of their lives, and most especially the improvement of their society or community.

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No Man is an Island

Perhaps the most striking lesson that I learned from reading module 3E is that nobody should feel that he/ she is alone. I, for one hate the feeling of being alone which is why I do not understand why some people feel that being isolated, especially in a learning environment, can be more beneficial than working with others. Personally, I can enumerate several reasons why collaborative learning is better.

1. Have you heard of the saying, “Two heads are better than one.” Not to be taken in the literal sense, this simply means that more ideas to a question, problem or learning situation may be devised or thought about if people put their heads together. The exchange of ideas can certainly bring educators/ learners to dig deeper into their knowledge, skills, experiences and expertise in order to come up and share what they believe is the best choice or solution to their problem or learning situation.
2. The practice of taking turns when sharing ones thoughts also helps educators/ students to learn an important skill, which is listening, and value, which is respect. A skill/ value that you may not necessarily learn, given that when you work alone, you just listen to yourself and no one else. So, basically, you only value your own take on things and will not be able to determine the best option since no other person will critique your work.
3. Also, working collaboratively teaches educators/ learners to compromise and accept the reality that sometimes better ideas may come from someone else. This enables them to be more accepting and open to new approaches and strategies instead of relying on traditional methods, even when there is that knowledge that these methods are not as effective as they should be in a given learning situation.
4. Collaboration promotes a happier learning environment. I believe that when educators/ learners expose their concern and situations on learning, they do not show that they are weak, rather, they allow others to see that they do not know everything but are willing to learn with the help from the people around them. It is through collaboration that individuals get to know each other better making the school or workplace a happier place for learning, and when individuals are happy they tend to be more productive.
5. Collaboration is for moving forward– in short, progress. I would like to think that the reason why educators/ learners share their ideas, expertise, materials, methods and strategies is so that they can affect more people along the way. Their agenda is to ensure that others learn, so keeping all the information to yourself is really not about serving others but serving yourself. In this case, one must again reflect on why he/she is teaching in the first place because perhaps a change of profession is what he/ she needs.
6. Collaboration encourages educators/ learners to feel valued. I say this because I find that people feel a certain pride if they know that they have contributed to another person’s success, which is why when individuals collaborate and when others see the importance of the person’s input in solving a problem, he/she feels good about his contribution to the group, community or workplace.
7. Lastly, collaboration allows for diversity to shine. Since all educators/ learners are unique, they must use their uniqueness to everyone’s advantage. For instance, when creating a project, learners must use their individual strength in order to come up with a more meaningful output. Otherwise, when all the members know exactly the same thing and can do things exactly the same way, their output may lack substance because they are not able to expose each other to alternatives or options given that they have similar skills and knowledge.

Having said all these, I respect that there are times that we, as learners, want to be left alone, say, to concentrate while working on something. But, I personally feel that when there’s an opportunity to learn from others or to share what you, yourself, know, we should not think twice about doing so because these opportunities not only allow us to expand our knowledge and skill sets, but more importantly, it allows us to have an impact on other people’s lives– which is a great blessing.

My Own Reflection

I would have to admit that when I was younger, I did not really care much about what other people think of me, because as a child I had other fun things that I focused on which to me were far more important than worrying about what others say about me. But, as I grew older, that perception changed. I became aware of how I would want others to ‘see’ me, and for reasons that I did not understand then, I wanted to belong or be a part of something. This was probably the reason why I gave so much importance to how people ‘see’ me. There were times that I would enjoy listening to the nice things that people say I am, like when they say that I am easy going, fun to be with, a good listener/ speaker, a leader and so on and so forth. However, there were also times when I had been told differently. Some perceived my being a leader as being bossy and wanting things to be done my way. In cases when people think ‘differently’ of you, you can not help but reflect or look really hard on whether what other people ‘see’ and say about you is true or not. Reflection allows you to examine yourself and formulate your own questions on why you think people see you the way that they do. It makes you look thoughtfully on whether what they say is based on something that has merits, and if so, you then think of options on how to change– not for them but for your own self- improvement.

And now that I am an adult with my own knowledge, experiences, beliefs and principles, my reflection of myself is used for the same reason– to make myself better primarily for the benefit of the people around me. As a wife and mother, I reflect on my thoughts and actions in order to create and maintain a positive and nurturing relationship with my husband and daughter. As a daughter, I reflect on the ways that my parents have raised me and used those wonderful memories of my childhood to give back to them. And, as a teacher hopeful, I would like to reflect on the many shared ideas, knowledge and practices so that I may one day be responsible in encouraging the next generation of hopefuls to reflect on their own perceptions of themselves in order to find their self- worth.

My awakening on creativity.

I have never looked at the word creativity in a complex way than when I first started reading the materials presented in Module 3C. Creativity in teaching, as I have learned, involves different factors which are composed of intellectual skills, knowledge, thinking styles, personality, motivation, environment and confluence. Intellectual skills are further divided into three aspects which are, 1) the ability to see problems in new ways and escaping the limits of conventional thinking (synthetic skills), 2) the ability to recognize which ideas are worth pursuing (analytic skills), and 3) the ability to sell your ideas to others (practical- contextual skill). Apparently, one skill alone is not enough, as creativity requires that it should be recognized and accepted by others and that for ideas to flourish, one must not conform to the standard way of thinking, and instead put in time to think for new and innovative ways to process a problem or a situation.

I also learned that in order to be creative, one must have enough know how about the subject or field that he is to teach, because the lack of one’s knowledge may set limitations to his own potential in expressing his creative works. The same is true with one’s thinking styles. There are various decisions about how to use the skills that are available to an individual and these decisions can be developed in order to generate new ideas and sell these ideas to others. A few of these decisions that can develop creativity are as follows: taking sensible risks, redefining problems, identifying and overcoming obstacles, allowing for mistakes to take place, encouraging collaboration and a lot more. Consequently, these characteristics define the personality of a creative thinker too. He is an individual who takes risks and stands up for what he believes in regardless of what other people think. A person who overcomes his hurdles and makes every mistake a learning experience. Someone who loves to think and create ideas with other people and finds true value in what others can give and will always have interesting ways of looking at problems and coming up with even more brilliant solutions.

A creative thinker also finds motivation in the work that he does and does not wait for external rewards such as praises and accolades just to keep him going. He finds that his motivation comes from his desire to perform the best way that he can, and he also knows that this is possible with an environment that is supportive and welcomes unorthodox ideas and views.

Lastly, a creative thinker is one who can withstand people’s anxiety over things that they cannot initially understand. He does not lose hope when society does not see pass status quo, but instead he shepherds them into realizing the importance of proposed ideas until they are able to recognize their value.