EDS 111 PRINCIPLES OF TEACHING — TASK: Activity 1-PART 2
“TEACHERS ARE MADE, NOT BORN”
- How can teachers develop unconscious competence in reflection?
Success in teaching requires us always to challenge and develop our practice by regular reflections and review. Reynold’s (1965) notion of ‘second nature’ briefly explains that to master something, one must have the perseverance to try, even though there are plenty of times we fail. By learning from our failures, slowly our mindset is changed and it will boost our confidence, thus unconsciously, we are doing something habitually. It’s like effortlessly dribbling the basketball after practicing, or cooking without the recipe book. In my seven years as an ESL teacher, you wouldn’t believe that I can teach with my eyes close, and write comments or corrections, search data in the internet, and even do Facebooking which is of course offensive — all at the same time.
- How can we ensure that teachers become active / proactive in their professional practice rather than reactive and enable them to develop tacit knowledge?
I am a kind of individual who tends to be quiet if having some complaints in my workplace, or if I wanted to ask a seemingly offensive question like why my salary is late or I wasn’t informed about the meeting. I’d rather try to solve it by myself, and if things didn’t turn out as I want it to be, I reflect how things would happen instead of asking why. And so my boyfriend always tells me, “Gly, why don’t you be proactive? Ask questions. That’s it.” For him, it’s easy. For me who thinks what other people might say, it’s not. Being the only foreign teacher in this school might be a disadvantage.
Going back to the question, if I were a school principal, I would certainly advise my teachers to create lesson plans which are basically NOT routinary, NOT well-rehearsed, and NOT what we call ‘rote learning’. Frankly speaking, I am against this old-fashioned method. I disliked my professors who come to class, read the books, speak like a robot, and bid goodbyes after a very boring discussion. I want a meaningful, associative and active learning. Perhaps, a student-centered learning that allows students to make decisions, become leaders and express creativity.
Another thing that I’ll ask my teachers to have is a journal of reflective teaching. From the real-life experiences that are recorded, they will develop a tacit knowledge. We would have meetings so we can discuss some confusing and difficult situations. I want the best for my teachers if I were a school head.
(Oh, and from now on, I’m going to be a proactive, not just in teaching but also as a person. I won’t let people ask me; instead, I would have the courage to ask! “Be proactive, not reactive”.)
- How can theory-in-use be practiced instead of the dogmatic application of theories?
It’s somewhat true that some teachers believe that theories they made will work well, and actually they’re not when facing the real world. The real teaching environment is like a zoo full of animals of different hybrids and behaviors. It’s not like what we see on TV or what we imagined as a classroom set-up in 1950s.
And so I remember that time in 2013 when I was offered by a Canadian interviewer a job as a Business English instructor in a vocational college in Thailand. I was full of fantasy that students were behaved, well-disciplined and dedicated to my lessons. Well, it was a nightmare. They were aged 15-23 but then acting like kids inside the room plucking eyebrows, putting lipstick, using gadgets, or even kissing boyfriends behind my back. I shook my head a hundred times because that was not what I expected. However, I reflected from every strategy that I used, and kept those that worked. I realized that the students didn’t want their teacher to do seventy percent of the talking, and so they hated the Scottish with white hair, and the bald Irish teacher because they literally talked. No brainstorming and dialogues at all. I gave them group activities, word charades, mind-boggling questions before the class, and even played fun videos for five minutes before proceeding to the discussion as a warm-up. And that made me the famous Filipina instructor in that school. Some teachers questioned my techniques, but I learned it the hard way and I’ll stick to it because it’s for the learners and not for them.
From that experience, I conclude that Kolb (1984) and his Experiential Learning Theory which has four stages namely 1. Concrete experience, 2. Reflection, 3. Abstract conceptualization, and 4. Active experimentation helped me in overcoming such problems in teaching ill-mannered uninterested students. I guess I learned it by doing it.
- How can teachers become effective reflective practitioners and achieved transformational learning? Why is having a right mental attitude important in developing reflective teaching practice?
As what I understand from the book, the willingness to undertake the process of reflection will make the teacher effective as a practitioner. First, he should be honest to himself, and have SWOT analysis of his lessons. Second, he should try to observe himself while and after teaching. As teachers, we are not there just to get our monthly salary. We are in this profession to inspire, guide and instill knowledge. It’s the right mental attitude, and not the pride that will make us successful in this career.
- According to Dewey (see on Becoming a Reflective Teacher), what are the characteristics of a reflective teacher? Do you possess these characteristics? How will you foster these traits within yourself?
According to David Wees, “Teaching is a learned activity. As such, the act of teaching requires that the teacher have a mental model of what it means to teach. When teachers teach in ways which appear to an outside observer to be ineffective or poorly thought-out, it is because they are using a flawed model for understanding teaching and learning. Blaming teachers for having flawed models is like blaming students for not knowing things; it doesn’t solve the problem, it may even exacerbate it.”
And so let’s enumerate the characteristics of a reflective teacher as per John Dewey. They are A. Openmindedness, B. Responsibility, C. Wholeheartedness. I need not to explain or elaborate each but hereby analyze if I myself possess those characteristics, by scanning what he mentioned in the book.
No question about the two — being open-minded and wholehearted. Honestly, when I accepted the job in 2014 as a kindergarten and primary teacher, I prepared myself to adjustments, pressures and expectations. As I entered the gate of the school, I said to myself, “Oh, I am expecting a classroom like a zoo!” And here I am, staying and loving the children more. What I expected has turned to passion in the long run. I called my students ‘monkey’ every time they jump or play in the class, but with proper classroom management, and through interesting lessons, I survived the hours of teaching with them. The job became as easy as ABC, and I learned the ropes with flying colors. I am open to their culture and beliefs, and I try to be fair to all learners even to PWDs giving them chances to participate in my class. I guess I’ll just have to work on being responsible. Responsible in a sense of not posting nonsense selfies/ comments on Facebook, wearing figure-hugging clothes at times, or even being not able to submit lesson plans on time. That’s my assignment. I must be a good role model for my former, present and future students!
Adam, July 6, 2014, Reactive and Proactive Teaching: Which Should We Use in the Language Classroom? Retrieved from http://www.teachthemenglish.com/2014/07/reactive-and-proactive-teaching-which-should-we-use-in-the-language-classroom/
Carl A. Grant and Kenneth M. Zeichner, On Becoming a Reflective Teacher, pp. 103-107
David Wees, The Reflective Educator, Teachers are Made. Not Born; Retrieved from http://davidwees.com/content/teachers-are-made-not-born/ on May 21, 2016
Glynis Dacsil 2015-30942
UPOU – 3rd trimester