And I am Finally Done! :)

For your final entry in your eJournal, reflect deeply on how this course has:

a.  changed/enhanced/influenced the way you think about the teaching process and the profession of teaching in general; and

b. impacted you as a teacher/pre-service teacher/education professional.

Furthermore, ponder on:

  1. why you needed to study or why you studied the concepts/principles discussed the course,
  2. why you have to consider to apply (or not apply) these concepts and principles in your practice,
  3. the importance of what you have learned from the course,
  4. what you will do next after learning the various concepts and principles from the course,
  5. what your professional goals are now,
  6. how you will achieve your goals and objectives in your career and practice, and
  7. what changes you will make as an education professional.

 

This is my final entry for EDS 111, because I am finally done! I waited to finish everything before writing this blog post.

This course has definitely changed my idea of the teaching profession in general. I did not realize how much work went into teaching, and how frustrating the education system can be. I also feel that Philippine society does not give the teaching profession the respect it deserves.

As a teacher, this course has impacted me greatly. I taught at the University of the Philippines for seven years, and only realized later that I did not know how to teach. I was teaching the way I was taught, and science professors are not exactly known for best teaching practices. The first step to my awakening was a required Teaching Effectiveness Course. It ran for one week, and I learned how to make a proper syllabus, the importance of knowing my learners, and the use of active learning strategies. I enjoyed it so much that I enrolled in the Professional Teaching Certification program of the University of the Philippines Open University. Every class was useful and an eye-opener. This class, EDS 111, is the most practical and the most holistic for teaching. The modules integrate well together, and the basics for being an effective teacher are tackled. Anyone who applies the principles of this course will be successful both as a teacher and in life. If I had learned about deep reflection, the knowledge base, professional learning communities, contemporary teaching perspectives, creativity in teaching, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and diverse learners before I became a teacher, it would have helped me to become a much more effective teacher. But all is not lost as I still have future teaching experiences and future students. I have also used the principles in this module to help the teachers in our school where I am currently the curriculum development head.

I studied the concepts/principles discussed in the course because I believe they would help me become a better teacher. I want to become a better teacher not only professionally for my future students, but also for my son. I am contemplating homeschooling my child. Also, knowing the principles of teaching will help me support the teachers in the school where I work.

I need to think about applying the concepts and principles, however. I cannot just apply them haphazardly. I need to consider the context in which the the concepts and principles will be used. Applying them as a university teacher would be different from applying them as a preschool teacher, and also different from applying them as I homeschool my child. Each context brings with it its own specific needs and nuances. I need to consider these and reflect upon them to be able to apply the concepts and principles successfully.

What I have learned from the course is important to my teaching, career, and life. My next steps are to apply what I have learned. My professional goals are to continue being the curriculum development head of a progressive preschool, following it as it grows. The preschool now offers kinder, grade 1 and grade 2. I am happy to also teach in the school once I obtain my professional teaching license. I may pause my professional goals, however, if I do decide to homeschool my son.

As an education professional, I have many changes to make. I would like to continue developing the professional learning community at my workplace. I also plan to reflect more deeply upon my learnings and experiences in order to move forward in a positive direction in a more deliberate manner. Reflection will also allow me to discover more goals and how I can achieve them. I will continue to share my learnings with my colleagues, and learn from them as well.

After answering the questions for this final entry, I feel empowered and inspired to move on in my professional life. I am currently on leave to take care of my son, but I keep in touch with my workplace and am still able to make suggestions. I can also still prepare materials for the school directress to discuss with the teachers.

I am elated to finally finish this course. It feels surreal to type in my last entry and see all the other entries before it. I was able to finish all the requirements, and I’m very proud of myself! It took me one year to finish this course. I completed the assignment and finals through a difficult pregnancy, and I am very grateful for my groupmates for helping me stay on track. I was also able to complete the rest of the requirements despite taking care of my newborn son by myself while my husband goes to work. It has been a difficult journey, but it is over, and and it is very much worth it.

Thank you very much, Teacher Roja! I truly appreciate the amount of work you put in the course, and I admire the way you practice what you preach. Rest assured that I have learned from the modules, and will be applying the principles and concepts not just in my career but also in my life. 🙂

 

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Module 6: Principles of Effective Teaching

The lessons in Module 6 are very important. I appreciate how the diversity of learners is emphasized (UNESCO, 2015). Learners differ so much in terms of social and cultural background, capabilities, abilities, personalities, and gender identities. Yet not all of these differences are acknowledged by school curricula. It truly is time to recognize that different learners learn differently, and certain learners are an at advantage simply because they come from a similar background as the teacher.

When I was still teaching, I tried hard to be respectful of everyone regardless of appearance, beliefs, and culture. I think I succeeded in making everyone feel welcome in my classroom. However, I never went the extra step of getting to know my students better. If I did, I would have learned how to teach them in more effective ways. I would have given examples in class that everyone could relate to, and not just those who had similar experiences as myself. It is sad to realize that I could have unintentionally made students feel left out because I was not sensitive enough to celebrate their differences. When I start teaching again, I will do my best to get to know my students as individuals, and find out more about those whose backgrounds I am not familiar with. I will be more conscious of the differences between my students in order to ensure that everyone feels safe and equally important in my classroom.

I really liked the video by the American Psychological Association (2016) regarding creativity. I learned much from it, and helped me realize that creativity is something that needs to be taught and cultivated in every subject, and not just music and the arts. It was encouraging to find out that everyone can be creative, and that simply finding solutions to problems is already being creative. I am excited to try my hand in using creative methods to teach, particularly problem-based learning. It will be particularly exciting to use problem-based learning in preschool. I am fortunate in that the school owner is very supportive about new ways of teaching in learning. Other teachers are not as fortunate, and it can be very difficult to be creative if one is expected to just follow a syllabus down to the letter. I can also imagine that parents might be apprehensive about problem-based learning because they may feel that their children are not learning the way the parents were taught. As more teachers use problem-based learning, however, hopefully it will be more accepted and considered a normal way of teaching.

Scholarship of teaching is using scholarly literature (i.e. other people’s research) to inform and improve one’s teaching practice. The scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) is applying the scientific method to one’s own teaching, beginning with inquiry and ending with a publication based on an analysis of the results of inquiry (CELatElon, 2013). Both are very significant to a teacher’s professional development and effective teaching. Scholarly teaching allows a teacher to go deep into the literature and the theories behind principles and practices, as well as find out what worked for other teachers and students. This way, the knowledge base (Shulman 1987) is expanded, and effective techniques from the literature may be applied. For SoTL, the knowledge base is also expanded. However, the knowledge is directly gathered from and applied to his/her particular case. This makes the knowledge more meaningful for the teacher. To be able to do this, a teacher must reflect deeply about his class. This leads to effective teaching because the teacher is doing research particularly to find out what works best for his class.

I think it would be good for basic and secondary educators to have SoTL. However, I am not sure if their schedules will allow it, as it might not be part of their job description. Also, since basic and secondary teachers think about the students in a holistic manner, their focus is not usually on research. It could be particularly difficult for basic and secondary teachers to write for publications. Perhaps they would also need some training to do SoTL. However, if the teachers are able to do it, that would be very good for the teachers, their students, schools and scholarship.

Teachers’ efforts for SoTL can be cultivated and supported across educational levels by having policies that encourage SoTL. One can motivate teachers by having incentives for publications, having workshops, and increasing salaries (as SoTL would be more work). Schools can also hire more teachers to unburden overworked teachers and give them enough time to do SoTL.

I think I would consider doing SoTL in my teaching practice, but not yet. I still haven’t taught my own preschool class yet. I can start by having a professional development journal so I can reflect and come up with inquiries once I start teaching. I also need to explore SoTL a bit more. I wonder if there are journals dedicated to SoTL. I would need to read a few articles that came out of SoTL practices before I can dive into it. I do think it is a good idea and that it would be very helpful not just for my class but also for the classes of teachers who would read about my work.

References:

  1. American Psychological Association. (2016, February 22). Creativity in the classroom [Video file].
  2. CELatElon. (2013, August 16). Scholarship of teaching and learning vs.scholarly teaching [Video file].
  3. 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.
  4. Shulman, L.S. (1987). Knowledge and teaching: Foundations of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57, 1-21.
  5. UNESCO. (2015). Embracing diversity: A toolkit for creating inclusive, learning-friendly environment. Paris, France: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Module 5: Professional Development and Professional Learning Community

I posted the following after watching the video (Edutopia, 2009) for this module:

I enjoyed watching the video and found myself agreeing with its points. Teachers definitely must have the passion for their subject matter, for teaching, and also for learning. I think the most important thing a teacher can impart to his/her student is a love for learning, because this will motivate the student to learn more and more. I also like the way the teachers are encouraged to continue to learn about how to teach. Having a Dean of Instruction is a good idea so teachers can get regular feedback about how they teach. Teachers do indeed need a lot of support as they navigate their profession, especially in the first five years.

As part of my reflection, I would like to hunt for assumptions in my post.

Assumption 1: I had a causal assumption that having a Dean of Instruction will allow teachers to get regular feedback about how they teach. This assumes that the Dean of Instruction will do his job properly. Unfortunately, the dean might have favorite teachers, be unjust in giving feedback, or consider “every five years” a regular occurrence. Having a Dean of Instruction will not automatically provide teachers with the type of feedback they need at the frequency at which they need it.

Assumption 2: I had a paradigmatic assumption that teachers must have passion for their subject matter. This is something I feel is just is. Why would teachers teach something they are not passionate about? After thinking about it, there are plenty of reasons. First, maybe they didn’t even want to be a teacher in the first place. Perhaps there was pressure from parents or a lack of resources to pursue more expensive professions like medicine. Second, maybe the teacher who was teaching a certain subject suddenly left the school, and so there was no choice but to have someone not passionate about the subject teach it. Third, maybe there are subjects that all teachers teach, such as homeroom.

Assumption 3: Another paradigmatic assumption I had was that teachers must have a passion for teaching. I just realized that I know quite a few teachers who are not passionate about teaching. They are science professors who enjoy research. As university professors, however, they also need to teach. I know at least five teachers who do not enjoy teaching and are even contemplating leaving the university to find research-only jobs.

It is good for teachers to be lifelong learners that share the passion for learning with their students in an infectious way (Costa, 2008). Teachers do need to continue to improve their craft and reflect in order to be the best they can be because there is always room for improvement. New technologies, research and paradigms are being discovered and studied everyday. It is important to remember that teaching is not meant to be a technical job. It is a living, breathing profession that turns stale without the constant feeding of new ideas that stem from changes in societies throughout generations.

One of the best ways to ensure lifelong learning is the professional learning community (Hord, 1997). I first learned about the professional learning community (PLC) when I took EDS 111 previously. The reference then was Roberts and Pruitt (2009), which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. It came with a workplace assessment and tips on how to begin a PLC. With the blessing of my supervisor, I immediately asked all the teachers and staff to complete the assessment in our workplace, and began a PLC. The teachers and staff were very responsive to the PLC, and I’m happy to note that is was successful in the sense that the teachers really worked together to find and resolve issues, discussed the students and their problems, and create lesson plans specifically tailored for the students. This was easy to do, however, because there were only three teachers in a small preschool. Nevertheless, the school has grown to have five teachers, and has also been accredited to teach kindergarten, first grade, and second grade. It is my hope that all schools will have professional learning communities for their teachers. I know this is difficult and will meet resistance, but one can begin even with just one more colleague.

References:

  1. Costa, A. (2008). Teachers as continuous learners. Teachers Matter, 8-10.
  2. Edutopia. (2009). An introduction to teacher development. [Video file]
  3. Hord, S. M. (1997). Professional learning communities: Communities of continuous inquiry and improvement.
  4. 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.

 

Module 4: Contemporary Teaching Perspectives and Approaches

I appreciated the contemporary teaching perspectives and approaches in this module, especially the benchmarks for learning and teaching discussed by Wilson and Peterson (2006). I agree that it is important to keep students as engaged and active as possible in order to motivate them to do their best in school. As a student myself, I wish all my teachers in elementary and high school used these benchmarks. I would have enjoyed school more. I do recall though that in high school, we had an optional leadership class. The class was at 7:30 am on Wednesdays, an hour earlier than the normal school day start at 8:30. Anyone who wanted to be in the class was welcome to do so. We worked in groups to organize extra-curricular activities in the school such as school dances, fun runs, talent shows, and raffles. While there were some set projects, we were free to suggest our own projects as well. It was a very engaging class, and we learned so much about ourselves and how to run projects.

I feel that our leadership class as described above is a good example of contemporary teaching perspectives and approaches. It can be used as a trial class in schools that would like to make the shift. It is a good trial class because it is optional, and so students who enroll in it want to be there. Also, it is not graded, so there is less risk for the students. Teachers might not like the extra work, however, so they might need to be compensated. Having such a class will allow the students to be more involved in the community as well.

As a teacher, one of the classes I thoroughly enjoyed teaching was one wherein I used the format proposed by Sorrano (2010), wherein each class becomes a group discussion. The discussion facilitator is randomly selected at the start of every class, so all the students must have prepared by reading prescribed resources beforehand. The topics of discussion also depend on the students as long as the topic is gleaned from the readings. I purposely wanted the students to take charge of their learning and give them as much freedom as possible, acting mostly as a guide. When I shared the format with colleagues, they appreciated it well. However, not all my colleagues were willing to implement it. It is risky because the students might choose to discuss a topic that the teacher is not familiar with. But that should not be a problem. This happened in my class, and it turns out that one of the students had a wealth of knowledge on the topic. I was happy to let her lead the discussion and share her insights. She enjoyed doing so as well, and her confidence was boosted.

I especially appreciated Yoder’s (2014) focus on social-emotional learning. Social-emotional learning is so crucial, yet so neglected. Emotional intelligence, adaptability, and resilience help a person deal with the stresses and pressures of life. Knowing how to manage one’s emotions and having people who you know will support you keep a person afloat when things get tough. You can be the most knowledgeable and skilled person on the planet. Yet if you don’t know how to manage your emotions, it will be difficult for you to be at peace with yourself and others.

Reflection on My Reflections

I am happy to see that I was able to use the different lenses in my reflection. Hunting for assumptions comes next. One prescriptive assumption is that just because I enjoyed my leadership class, all of my fellow students did as well, and so will future students of the class. The context of the class may have worked in my situation, but it won’t necessarily work for others. Not everyone can go to school one hour earlier. Also, students who worked in groups with dominating groupmates may not have been able to voice out their opinions. From what I recall, the teachers of the class did nothing to address the diversity of learners, and some students may have been bullied by their groupmates. On another note, the class probably worked because the social atmosphere allowed for it to do so. If teachers were not encouraging and supportive of students’ ideas, the class would not have worked. If teachers were supportive, yet the administration was restrictive about providing logistical and financial support, the class might not have worked as well.

Task 6 – Activity 4 Part 2

Go back to your post in Activity 4 Part 1 and think about the following questions:

1. How would you describe your teaching perspectives prior to your reading of the module resources? How would you compare your prior conceptions about learning and teaching to the ideas discussed in the resources of this module? What factors influenced your conceptions about teaching and learning?

My initial thoughts were as follows:

Teaching and learning are two different, yet related, concepts. For me, teaching is about imparting knowledge, skills and values to another. It doesn’t have to be from a person of authority. I believe children can teach us just as much as we can teach children. Teaching is more than just a transfer of knowledge. It has to do also with how to deal with the knowledge you are imparting, how to apply it, and the ethics and values that come with it. For example, you don’t just teach a child that fire gives off light when there is a power outage. You teach the child to light a match (age-appropriately, of course), then light a candle to be able to have a flame. Then, you also teach the child that the flame can be dangerous, and that is why you put the candle in a jar or a candle holder. And, you also tell the child the proper and improper uses of fire. To be effective, though, one has to know the child and how best to teach him/her. The student must also trust the teacher and be open to learning.

In terms of learning, I see learning as gaining something intangible that you did not have before. It may have been taught by a teacher, by experience, or by observing another’s experience. Learning has to be long-term though. I don’t see it as learning if you cannot remember it and cannot use it when you need to. For example, if the child forgets how to light a match, he/she cannot use a candle when it is dark. The child did not really learn how to light the match because it was forgotten. Learning is something that sticks in a person’s brain. Hopefully, the knowledge, skill, or value learned will be useful and constructive for the person. Sometimes, people learn bad habits such as smoking. But, fortunately, bad habits can also be unlearned.

I had already taken education classes previously, and so not all the perspectives are new to me. However, looking  at what I wrote, it was written from a teacher-centered approach. Also, even if it included values, it did not mention teaching social emotional learning alongside content. The factors that influenced me were my own personal experience, the emphasis on knowledge, skills and values in my workplace, and my EDS 103 class with Teacher Malou.

2. Have your perspectives’ changed after studying the module resources? How or how not?

Yes, my perspectives have changed. I now see teaching and my students more holistically. They need to know not just content, but 21st century skills in order to succeed and be happy. I also see the importance of having student-led learning instead of just using active learning strategies. Active learning strategies, although engaging for students, can be teacher-led.

3. How willing or open are you in challenging your prior conceptions about teaching and learning, and applying contemporary teaching perspectives and approaches that would better serve the need of the students for more holistic and active learning?

I am quite open. I enjoy a challenge and fortunately have autonomy in my teaching. I know that it will take a large amount of hard work and effort, but I believe it is worth it. Applying contemporary teaching perspectives and approaches will not only improve my teaching. The students will also appreciate being more involved, and I may influence my colleagues based on my example. Using contemporary teaching perspectives and approaches throughout an entire school will raise the quality of education in the school and produce more socially aware youth with the confidence and creativity to tackle social problems.

4. Which among the contemporary teaching perspectives and approaches discussed in this module resonates with you? Why?

Problem-based learning resonates most with me, because I feel that it is the most effective way to teach real-world problems and solutions. My brother teaches a marketing class, and I learned this strategy from him. Instead of just lecturing on theory, he had the class do team-building exercises and a lot of reflection on their strengths and core values. He then gave them problems to solve using marketing. The students spent the semester working together to help keep a preschool afloat by marketing to parents, raise funds for scholarships and cancer patients. The projects were all very successful, and the students learned not only marketing principles, but how to work with each other, gain confidence, and get to know themselves better.

5. Knowing your inclination for specific teaching perspectives, how can you ensure that you will not fall into the trap of a one-size-fits-all teaching and that you will observe the teaching principles as intellectual and varied work – “adopting appropriate teaching roles to support learning goals” (Eberly Center, 2015)?

The best way to do this is by keeping a professional development journal as suggested by Scales (2008). As long as I keep reflecting, I will most likely stay on the path of growth, openness, and lifelong learning rather than stagnancy.

References:

  1. Scales, P. (2008). The reflective teacher. Teaching in the lifelong learning sector, 7-26. Maidenhead, Berkshire: Open University Press.
  2. Sorrano, P. (2010). Improving student discussions in graduate and undergraduate courses: transforming the discussion leader. Journal of Natural Resources & Life Sciences Education, 39: 84-91.
  3. Wilson, S. M., & Peterson, P. L. (2006). Theories of learning and teaching: What do they mean for educators?. Washington, DC: National Education Association.
  4. Yoder, N. (2014). Teaching the whole child: instructional practices that support social-emotional learning in three teacher evaluation frameworks. Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research.

Module 3: The Knowledge Base of Teaching

Knowledge Base

Teaching is the process of imparting or enforcing new knowledge, skills and values from a teacher to a student. In order to do this effectively, a teacher must have a solid knowledge base with component parts (Shulman 1987). A teacher should know what he/she is teaching (content knowledge), how to teach (pedagogical knowledge), and how to teach a particular subject (pedagogical content knowledge). In order to be more effective, teachers should also know the context in which the learning is happening (educational context knowledge) . These include knowing the curriculum in which the lesson is embedded (curricular knowledge), the level, personality and learning styles of the student (knowledge of learners), and the history and purposes of education (knowledge of educational ends, purposes and values). When teachers have the above-described knowledge base, and are trained on how to use this knowledge base, teaching becomes much more effective. This is because the teaching is not only based on a solid grasp of the content and how to teach it, but also becomes tailored to the specific needs of the learner and is placed in the proper context.

One way I can apply this is in teaching photosynthesis to introductory biology students, I must know the process of photosynthesis very well, how to get the attention of students and handle a classroom, how photosynthesis is taught effectively (e.g. address common misconceptions about it), why the students need to know about photosynthesis and how it fits into their degree program, information about the students (such as their course, their age, and educational background), how the general climate of the university and society affects the learning of the students, and how teaching them will help them to become productive members of society. Knowing all of the above, I can teach the students much more effectively than if I knew only the process of photosynthesis.

Shulman (1987) enumerated what he called the four major sources of the teaching knowledge base: scholarship in content disciplines, educational materials and structures, formal educational scholarship, and wisdom of practice itself. Teachers can draw from any of these four areas in order to develop and foster their teaching knowledge base. In other words, teachers should stay up-to-date with the subject area they are teaching, in terms of content and how to teach that content. Furthermore, teachers should also stay up-to-date with advances in the field of education itself. A teacher must also keep teaching and reflecting upon their methods, styles and strategies in order to gain wisdom in teaching. Going through the steps of the Model of Pedagogical Reasoning and Action will also guide a teacher into building his/her knowledge base.

Frankly, the enormity of the knowledge base is intimidating! To do this for every single lesson seems overwhelming. However, I think it is a learning curve that is steep only at the beginning and will get easier through time. Investing the time and effort to achieve the knowledge base will definitely be worth it when one sees the students flourish. This would be especially rewarding in low income areas. Students who are disadvantaged to begin need knowledgeable teachers to guide and inspire them to better their situations.

Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK)

Teachers can develop their TPACK by developing the component parts of TPACK. For one to be able to successfully integrate technology, content and pedagogy, one must have basic knowledge of all three. These components may be developed independently from one another. However, the intersections of the three must be developed as well for the knowledge to truly be considered as TPACK. An example of TPACK would be knowing how to use a 3D film (technology) to allow students to take a tour of the cell (pedagogy) in order to learn the parts of a cell (content). The point is to look at the content that needs to be taught and think about how the students might learn it best based on the available technology (Mishra & Koehler, 2006).

One of my thoughts is how teachers can develop lessons using TPACK. Teachers are often tired and work beyond office hours just to keep up with their lessons and their students. To have to be up-to-date with technology, learn new ways of teaching and overhaul lesson plans is time-consuming and stressful. Furthermore, TPACK is not usually explicitly a priority of education institutions, and it may be difficult to obtain the needed technologies. For these reasons, some teachers may not too open about learning and incorporating TPACK into their teaching. One also has to be creative in order to integrate the three components of TPACK, as technology training seldom includes how to use the technology for educational purposes (Mishra and Koehler 2006). Thus, teachers need to be motivated to learn and apply TPACK. One way is to incorporate TPACK into training sessions when introducing new technology to teachers. The teachers must be able to see how to use it properly so that they can get excited about it and want to use it in their classrooms. One way to do this is by involving teachers in Learning Technology by Design projects so that they can experience TPACK and what it can offer first-hand. Sometimes teachers just need to see something work before they will invest time and energy to do it themselves. When I was teaching college students, our university developed an online virtual learning environment, wherein I could upload my lectures, link to videos and supplementary materials, and have students submit their work online. I used this virtual environment and encouraged my colleagues to do so. At first, they were apprehensive, but when I demonstrated how it could detect plagiarism in assignments submitted by students, many of them started using it as well.

On a larger scale, the Department of Education (DepEd) and school administrators should run a survey about TPACK as done by Mishra and Koehler (2006) to get an idea of how it is currently used and applied in schools. Based on the results of the survey, DepEd can come up with goals on how to use TPACK and how to incorporate it into the curricula of schools. It would also be good for DepEd to have a TPACK committee that keeps up-to-date with new technologies and how these are used for teaching. The budget of a school, of course, is also crucial, as technology is usually expensive. DepEd could also use technologies within the department, such as by having a social media presence on Facebook or Twitter, in order to foster an environment that promotes technological advances. It is also very important for DepEd to hold training sessions in TPACK, particularly like the Learning Technology by Design workshops described by Mishra and Koehler (2006).

Reflection on My Reflections

I feel that my reflection is full of prescriptive and causal assumptions. I am suggesting ways of doing things in a manner that appears to be prescriptive. Of course, different schools have different contexts, and so my suggestions might not be applicable to all. Also, I am using mostly the autobiographical lens. It would be better to use the other three lenses as well to gain more insights on my reflection.

References:

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

Module 2: Teacher Professionalism

Before reading the resources, I defined “teacher professionalism” as follows:

For me, teacher professionalism is how a teacher conducts himself/herself in a professional manner. This would be in terms of ethics, values, and attitudes. Furthermore, a professional teacher would have a teaching license and be a productive member of society.

My definition is definitely different from the traditional definition. Based on Millerson (1964) as cited in Whitty & Wisby (2006), to be a profession, an occupation must “use skills based on theoretical knowledge”, have “those skills certified by examination”, have “a code of professional conduct oriented towards the ‘public good’” and “a powerful professional organisation.” My definition only considered one of the four parts of the traditional definition. In the traditional definition, the teaching profession is also largely determined by the state and the teachers. Democratic professionalism, on the other hand, considers a wider scope and makes the profession accountable to all stakeholders, including students, parents and community members. The point of including all stakeholders is to be able to incorporate the needs of society into education and move toward social progress more effectively. Democratic professionalism is similar to my definition because I placed an emphasis on the greater good as well. Transformative professionalism, another perspective espoused by Sachs (2003) as cited by Demirkasimoglu (2010), is similar to democratic professionalism in that it is inclusive, egalitarian, and strives to move toward social progress. It also espouses a public ethics code, informed inquiry, self-regulation and building a knowledge base. I did not quite get to the level of transformative professionalism in my definition. I think the transformative professionalism is idealistic and difficult to attain at a large scale. However, it is an excellent direction moving forward. Even if it might not be attained at a large scale, seeking to attain it at a professional level would still be fruitful.

After studying the resources in Module 2, my definition of teacher professionalism has definitely changed. My understanding was very limited earlier. I did not realize the struggle that teachers need to go through to have teaching professionalized, and that there are many facets of professionalim. Even if teaching is now recognized as a profession, for some people it is still a semi-profession because of the lack of autonomy and supposedly underdeveloped theoretical base (Demirkasimoglu, 2010).  I echo the definition of Gamble (2010) when she mentioned three components of professionalism: (1) “level  of  abstraction  of  a  profession’s  knowledge  base  in  order  to  claim  professional jurisdiction and defend it against competition or subordination,” (2) “collective autonomy” and (3)  “accountability.” My previous definition, which centered on ethics, attitudes and values, only dealt with components (2) and (3). Thus, to my definition was added component (1).

It was mentioned that teacher professionalism has not been defined adequately and is still debatable. It appears that the focuses on defining and conceptualizing the nature of professionalism are, “the respectability status of the occupation”, improvement of service quality, “achievement of the highest standards”, “self-control” and “professional autonomy”.  (Demirkasimoğlu 2010). My concept  of teacher professionalism tends to agree with this in the sense that teachers, in general, should be respectable, work toward improving the craft, hold high ethical and moral standards, and have professional autonomy (I understand this as collective autonomy as defined by Gamble (2010)).

Thus, for me, teacher professionalism is a process wherein an aspiring teacher learns the tools of the trade (the craft), which are based on both theory and practice. He/she becomes a professional teacher when he/she can prove that he/she has the knowledge and skills necessary to perform the duties of a teacher, keeping in mind ethics and the common good of society and moving to transform societal norms, expectations and practices. This is the kind of professional educator I would like to be.

Reflection on My Reflection

Reading my new definition of teacher professionalism makes me realize that I am looking at professionalism from the lens of the teacher, the colleagues, and literature. There is nothing through the lens of the students. What would students say when asked what teacher professionalism is? I think students would say that a professional teacher is one who treats students fairly, is knowledgeable about the subject matter, prepares for class, and acts professionally in terms of dealing with students and being on time for class.

One assumption that I found in my new definition is that a teacher can prove that he/she has the knowledge and skills necessary to perform the duties of a teacher. I think this is a causal assumption in the sense that if the teacher has it, he/she must be able to prove it. I think that is not necessarily the case. How can one prove this? Who decides if the proof is enough? It would be better for me to remove “proof” from the definition and say “when he/she can prove that he/she has the knowledge and skills” instead.

References:

  1. Demirkasımoğlu, N. (2010). Defining “Teacher Professionalism” from different perspectives. Procedia- Social and Behavioral Sciences9, 2047-2051.
  2. Gamble J. (2010). Teacher professionalism: a literature review. Johannesburg: JET
  3. Whitty, G. & Wisby, E. (2006).  Moving beyond recent education reform – and towards a democratic professionalism. Hitotsubashi Journal of Social Studies, 38(1): 43-61.

 

Module 1: Reflective Teaching Practice

At the start of this module, my thoughts on reflection were as follows:

To me, reflection means to look within myself and see the reasons for my actions. It allows me to understand myself more and move toward goals that would be aligned with my passions and values. Reflection is done by thinking about my thoughts, feelings, and actions as objectively as possible. It is important to see how I impact others, and how I could do things in a better way. I believe incorporating reflection in the teaching practice is very important. A teacher impacts students in many ways, and so one must be mindful of his actions.

After doing the tasks in this module, I can say that my thoughts about reflection have definitely expanded. I also realized that I made a lot of assumptions during my reflection! If I were to revise my initial statement, it would be as follows:

To me, reflection means to look within myself and see the reasons for my actions. It allows me to understand myself more and move toward goals that would be aligned with my passions and values. Reflection is done by thinking about my thoughts, feelings, and actions as objectively as possible. It is important to see how I impact others, and how I could do things in a better way. To reflect more thoroughly, using Gibbs’ cycle of reflection would help create a structure for reflection. Having a journal dedicated to professional development and reflecting on a regular schedule would be most fruitful. During reflection, one should be critical, hunt for assumptions and consider the perspectives of others. I believe incorporating reflection in teaching practice is very important. A teacher impacts students in many ways, and so one must be mindful of his actions. Reflection also helps a teacher to take charge of his own professional development and not just go with the tide, thus improving teaching practice in ways that are relevant to students and the community. This does not stay within the classroom but expands to social and political contexts as well.

I must admit that while I think of myself as a reflective person, I’ve never thought about reflection itself. I never thought about the theories behind it or the steps and advantages of reflecting. I especially did not realize the importance of reflection for teaching. The readings particularly mentioned that the only way you can grow as a teacher is to reflect, and I found myself agreeing with them. Reflection is how we know who we are (Scales, 2008). I especially did not realize that hunting for assumptions and using different lenses are crucial in reflection (Brookfield, 1995a; Brookfield, 1995b).

The most significant learning I have gained is the reflection I did within myself after reading the module. I took a short break and thought about my life, and I realized that reflection had indeed helped me in my personal life and career. When I feel lost, I tend to turn inward and think about things. I now realize that I would go through the steps of reflection, ending with figuring out what I had learned and what I need to do based on that new knowledge. I now see the importance of reflecting often and intend to start a professional development journal.

I am in a transitory place in my career at the moment. I have a lot of teaching experience, having taught college students in the past 12 years. All my teaching experience is at the university level, and I did not undergo professional training in education. As I read the resources, I ended up reflecting about my teaching experiences, which are all in the past. I started working in a preschool, and my position is working more with materials rather than directly with the children. I do have intentions to teach the kids, but I haven’t started yet. The setting of a preschool is quite different from what I am used to, and I feel very much like a beginner here. Therefore, I feel like both a beginner and an experienced teacher when I read and reflect. When I think about my teaching experience at the university and reflect on what I could have done better, it feels futile as I will not be teaching the same classes again in the near future. Yet, I have no personal experience to reflect on as a beginning preschool teacher. This is why I appreciated Grant & Zeichner’s (1984) paper, as I realized I could still make reflections even if I hadn’t taught at the preschool yet. I also appreciate when they said that, “There is a fundamental choice for you to make: whether you will give some direction to your training or let others direct it for you.” (Grant & Zeichner 1984:114). I am convinced that reflection will help me to direct my own training, and that the best way to do that is through a professional development journal (PDJ).

I already have two topics I would like to reflect on in my PDJ. One is whether or not I possess the characteristics of a good teacher as listed by Scales (2008). Another is the statement of Grant & Zeichner (1984) that “your teaching philosophy is a manifestation of your teaching philosophy and you are unswerving in your desire to make certain that the two become one and the same.” (p.107). I would like to believe that my teaching philosophy is aligned with my teaching behavior. However, I know that my intentions are not always aligned with my actions. I would like to go deeper into these two topics by critical reflection and hopefully start a lifetime of reflective practice.

References:

  1. Grant, CA and Zeichner KM. (1984). On becoming a reflective teacher. Available at http://www.wou.edu/~girodm/foundations/Grant_and_Zeichner.pdf. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  2. Brookfield, S. D. (1995a). What it means to be a critically reflective teacher (Chap. 1). Becoming a critically reflective teacher (pp. 1-27). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  3. Brookfield, S. D. (1995b). Becoming critically reflective (Chap. 2). Becoming a critically reflective teacher (pp. 28-48). San Francisco, CA:
    Jossey-Bass Publishers.)
  4. Scales, P. (2008). The reflective teacher. Teaching in the lifelong learning sector, 7-26. Maidenhead, Berkshire: Open University Press.