EDS 111 finale: Some truth in fiction thru EDS 111

Q: So was Louanne Johnson’s classroom success in the 1995 movie “Dangerous Minds” (Bruckheimer Films) a
pure work of fiction or does it have some theoretical basis?

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I have always thought of myself as a person who likes to learn new things. I have a very varied interest, and for the past few years that I have been a teacher, I am most especially curious on correct education. Question is, what does that even mean?

Studying EDS 111 has helped me gain the first step towards answering this question. First, it has pointed me to the way of interesting reads, albeit long and grueling, but interesting nonetheless. Until I knew about the TPI and teaching perspectives I felt like a very little number of people understand a social reform perspective in teaching that I want to apply in my instruction. I didn’t know that they already have a name for the TPACK framework for teaching, and that it is considered a massive part of a teacher’s knowledge base, when to me it was just one of those mysterious merger of technology use and good old pedagogy. That the importance of teacher interpersonal skills had been a subject of academic
study, and teaching diverse students had always fascinated me, and I thought “while I could be a teacher of fairness and diversity, how do you teach a class of rowdy teenagers?”. In short, if the barrios have Juan Flavier, will I be able to handle that as a teacher?

Truthfully, the course had also enlightened some dark spots in my practice. Reflective practice has been a key point in any kind of teaching, and like Peter Scales (2008) said, it needs to be deliberate. If before, critical analysis of my class issues were sporadic at best, now I have realized thru the course that a continuous learning of techniques and theories would generously help me to cope with the challenges I face. My initiatives of creating a community of learning thru projects we had and wants to have will now have a name. Knowing what you are doing provides more direction and puts goals in front of you and your collective.

If I’d give myself a summative self assessment of all the new thoughts, new and old, that has been imparted in Principles of Teaching, I would create a list of the following skills whose goal is for the items to be ticked off one by one. And for those items left unchecked, they will serve as a reminder of all the things I need to learn to master, and turn my efforts into, as Reynolds (1965) calls it, ‘second nature’.

Personal list of things to master:

  • Strengthen the other complementing areas of my TPI based off of my dominant perspective 
  • Practice how to shift into all of Grasha’s teaching styles and apply when needed
  • Involve the immediate community in decision and policy making, achieving democratic professionalism in your own school; share tasks and make parents and teaching staff feel empowered thru this new mandate
  • Train staff and share the knowledge about the TPACK framework on how to optimize the available technology at work 
  • Seminars and reflection sessions on helpful objective setting, as some of my colleagues still don’t know how to set lesson objectives √
  • Share interesting theories such as Thomas Gordon’s (2003) communication techniques with students 
  • Make sure I stand my ground on being a teacher than a mother 
  • Accept that all students are able students, no playing favorites 
  • Innovate my style, methods, create novelty in my lessons and aids, deviate from being Teacher Glen sometimes 
  • Realize that I have the power to move revolutionize ethos and culture in my school, take advantage of that with the education I had from this course 
  • Attempt to create initiatives towards shaping part of the staff identity and be known as a well rounded teachers committed to both learning and teaching;
  • Meet regularly, delegate, collaborate, make a call to action
  • Be a living model that learning does not stop here 

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A: Ms Johnson probably learned EDS 111.

Scales, P. (2008). The reflective teacher. Teaching in the lifelong learning sector, 7 – 26. Maidenhead, Berkshire: Open University Press.). Retrieved from http://www.mheducation.co.uk/openup/chapters/9780335222407.pdf

Scarlett, W. G., Ponte, I. C., & Singh, J. P. (2009). Building positive teacher – student relationships (Chapter 3). In Approaches to behavior and classroom management. SAGE Publications.). Retrieved from http://www.sagepub.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/26067_3.pdf

Simpson, D. & Bruckheimer, J. (producer). Smith, J. (director). (1995). Dangerous Minds. [motion picture]. USA.

EDS 111 Module 3E: UP as a learning community

Many former students and undergraduate alumni of the University of the Philippines would probably agree that in reading about lifelong learning, scholarship and learning communities, UP is an embodiment of most of the characteristics of a true community where people are not only striving to become an academic, but also a group that puts up almost an effortless vibe of learning. As I am sure there is a parallel collective in other schools, I have not seen a community of this size where everywhere feels like a virtual classroom (so pardon my limited perspective about other schools– feel free to share below).

Kruse, Louis and Bryk (1995) said that learning communities usually have the five characteristics, namely: reflective dialogue, focus of student learning, interaction exists among teachers, collaboration, shared values and norms (Kruse, Louis and Bryk, 1995). The latter proposed that these should be present in a organization to be considered a community with a lifelong goal of growth by being voluntarily engaged. From where I stand, these characteristics, especially reflective sharing, collaboration and values- sharing , are easily ever- present in UP, and is not just exclusive among the teaching staff, but in several forms as well.

Reflective dialogue is described as conversations where teachers discuss student improvement in their teaching. In the university, this is generally observable as personal traits of all members both students and teachers. In the UP culture, constant self evaluation and critical thinking are behaviors that are constantly encouraged within the self, and this opens
communication lines not just between faculty members but amazingly, students also get involved.

Collaboration is not exclusive between just teachers, but always present, as organizations get deeply creative in activities and projects. Administration activities and the student council, or the USC, equally compete with student orgs; there isn’t a monopoly of who controls and regulates.

Values and norms are shared and passed on thru a strong tradition of independence, self- analysis and critical thinking– traits considered a brand of membership in the UP community– are just some of what are considered important as a member of this community. Granted, there are some who may not fit into certain molds but it is almost safe to say that its ethos tend to prescribe to have some of the traits mentioned above, and could possibly manifest in many implicit forms.
I believe that the key to a successful learning community is that students champion lifelong learning themselves, and in this institution, most of it are done outside of teacher monitoring. As it is already a given that faculty members in most institution posses higher academic profiles, a sort of culture within the student community needs to surface, and in UP, the latter had nailed it down to a tee.

(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.). Retrieved from http://www.corwin.com/upm-data/27683_Roberts_Chapter_1.pdf

EDS 111 Module 3D: Questions towards reflectivity

As a student teacher, I should be aware that theories should not become our main source of food when it comes to learning how to teach. Reflection is a valuable form of in-practice professional development, and perhaps sui generis.

A researcher who valued the social reform outlet of teaching,  Dewey has prescribed 3 attitudes a teacher must possess in his or her reflective practice. They are openmindedness, responsibility and wholeheartedness (Dewey, 1933).

But what are the vital questions we should ask ourselves in order to achieve a higher sense of thinking in this regard? Consider the following:

OPEN-MINDEDNESS:

  1. Do you think about who may be affected or offended by your activities in the classroom?
  2. Do you bother to be sensitive enough to your non-believing students?
  3. Do you question gender profiling, inequality of racial representation, stereotypes, language discrimination and other socially relevant issues as possible biases in applicable contexts in your content?
  4. Do you inquire and interrogate texts on what could else be considered normative ideologies?

RESPONSIBILITY:

  1. Do you take the time to look up other resources to explain multi-raciality, religion and other idea variants when your material lacks exposure of the other sides?
  2. Do you encourage debates and peer learning that examine the topics and ideas shared, even of your own? Can you take students’ critiques and be humble enough to remain level- headed when others are critical?
  3. Do you harbor fear of making mistakes in front of your students? Or are you able to bounce back with grace and be able to own that mistake with a thorough and salient answer?

WHOLEHEARTEDNESS:

  1. Do you accept that this profession is public service?
  2. Do you acknowledge that teaching is never a self- serving practice?
  3. Is it important to you to cater to others needs first before your own? Are you clear on who and what should teachers prioritize?
  4. Are you committed to selfless service to all students, no matter who, where or in what surroundings?

Teaching is not a one size fits all practice as we have learned in the previous modules. Because of this, it will easier to see that different contexts, different scenarios, different students and different cultures will invariably prove that correct teaching cannot be prescribed. But if there is one thing that can be prescribed in the profession, it is reflective practice. It is more than professional, and it teaches us respect, and other desirable personality traits universally useful for a progressive self.

Reference:

Grant, C.A and Zeichner, K. M. (1984). On becoming a reflective teacher. In Preparing for Reflective Teaching (pp. 103-114). Retrieved from http://www.wou.edu/~girodm/foundations/Grant_and_Zeichner.pdf

EDS 111 Module 3C: Creative versus Interesting

As a sucker for Buzzfeed and internet facts lists, idling before for hours on end (and probably procrastinating), I have come across an article on the 4 general traits of interesting people (“Four Characteristics Interesting People Have” by Steve Bloom), and it immediately reminded me Danah Henriksen and Punya Mishra’s list of the five guideposts for teaching creativity, and somehow I have found a huge deal of similarity and parallels. It has made me reflect whether interesting is synonymous to creative, and the other way around.

According to Bloom’s list the four general characteristics of interesting people are:
1. a risk taker
2. curious
3. opinionated
4. has presence

and in Henriksen and Mishra’s list of what makes creative teachers are:
1. connects their interests in their practice
2. imparts real- world learning
3. has a creative mind-set
4. collaborates
5. takes risks (Henriksen and Mishra, 2013).

Putting these side bsy side will undoubtedly yield parallel results. For one, risk taking, according to Bloom, makes for stories that will have historical value in the future because they were the type of people who were headstrong on making a big move for the sake of experience, and then knowledge. This was the same lack of fear of mistakes Henriksen and Mishra was looking for in teachers to become creative and inventive. Curiosity takes you out of passivism, and in taking charge of discovering interests; with these interests, you will be able to share something with your class. While idea collaboration and risk taking may have something to contribute to being an opinionated individual, Bloom said if you are offering no opinions and or afraid of forming new ones, then that is not worthy of interest. Confidence is something that we can borrow from all of guidelines from Henriksen and Mishra, as strong and creative pedagogy requires presence to deliver in front of students.

This comparison begs us to think that if being creative and interesting are indeed similar, then does that mean that interesting individuals automatically make creative, and effective teachers? Perhaps, but as the TPACK framework suggests, it takes a union of different kinds of elements– pedagogy, content knowledge and technology to fully assist learning (Koehler and Mishra, 2009). To the layperson, this means that not everybody who is good in the arts, who is interesting, who takes risks and who is confident makes for a creative, and effective teacher. I have personally seen teachers abroad with zero teaching experience and nay any form of training go straight to occupying a teaching post in SE Asia. Foreigners are revered this way and are seen perhaps as more competent by virtue of their accents and bright skin color, and most of them, due to the privilege of language, brave the teaching waters, armed only with “a tad bit of teaching creativity sense”, and this is where we mess up becuase of our definitions. Sure, some of these intersting individuals proved to be “naturals”, but there are some whose practice still requires formal training and education of pedagogy.

Perhaps it takes a certain teacher sensibility and mindset to become a teacher, formal training or none, to be able to creatively execute a fun and engaging lesson. Making sure that proper learning occurs can be accomplished by at least trying to subscribe to the lists above, and strive to be both an interesting person AND a creative teacher.
Bloom, S. (2011). Four Characteristics interesting people have.Retrieved from http://dosomethingcool.net/4-characteristics-interesting-people/

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

Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2009). What is technological pedagogical content knowledge?
Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(1), 60-70. Retrieved from http://www.citejournal.org/articles/v9i1general1.pdf

EDS 111 Module 3B: Preschool teaching as a female dominated profession: where males are lacking

Discussing the prospect of a new hire in our school, my directress sipped water from her brightly colored bottle after playfully choking on her response, hearing that I suggested a male candidate should not be ruled out in choosing a new teacher. She has always been the first and final say on the hire even though I participate here and there especially in dropping a list of skills that I think are necessary for the new class suffering a teacher- vacuum.

Then I have come to remember that on my first formal teaching position at a kindergarten in Vietnam 6 years ago, the roster has always been all female. In fact, even the security personnel, helpers, nannies are female (there’s the cook, by the way).

I didn’t wish to be discriminating as I have had experience hiring a male when I was teaching in China over a year ago which worked beautifully (interestingly I chose a male only once), but after learning about the interpersonal skills needed in preschool teaching, it is starting to make sense now. After all, Lilian Katz in 1989 said that mothering and teaching very young learners are distinct, and in my experience, male teachers are very good in making this firm distinction. But the evidence pointing to the need for fostering tender attachment (within the scope of professional decorum) (Scarlett, 1998), I believe, is more overwhelming than the need for firmness and gentle authority. The need is just more deep-seated and innate. The ability to establish the secure attachment is so strong a teacher trait that caregivers openly appreciate it, and parents put in so much value. And touch… let’s not even go there.

Does it really take female teaching sensibilities to perform this job? Or are we being sexist? I surely don’t want to be discounted from being a suitable candidate by virtue of my gender, I have always believed.

Although in light of all these, I refuse to make gender distinctions when it comes to competence, I cannot help myself from seeing females as better candidates (not better teachers, take note) overall to fill the jigsaw shape that parents and maybe students as well are seeking to fulfill. Teaching preschool now makes me feel like only the very distinct form of the female kind of instruction can satisfy the nurturing, caring, loving needs of students in this developmental stage. There might be little difference in ability and skill but maybe, there is an intrinsic one in personalities influenced by gender.

Scarlett, W. G., Ponte, I. C., & Singh, J. P. (2009). Building positive teacher – student relationships (Chapter 3). In Approaches to behavior and classroom management. SAGE Publications. Retreived from http://www.sagepub.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/26067_3.pdf

EDS 111 Module 3A: “I’m not YouTube-ing; I am TEACHING!

I have to shamefully admit that I have never heard of the TPACK framework until now. I am sure that I am not alone in this course who had eureka moments and found themselves nodding in realization in identifying that the use of Youtube in their classes already has a name in theoretical education.

In my personal point of view, I can see a few implications of the usage of the internet (TPK) at my school where I teach. For those who wanted to know, I teach reading to toddlers here in Manila. Our school caters to very young but technologically exposed learners. In seeing them begin or grow into their big schools (transitioning from a preschool to formal education), I
have had a few observations how their iPads too big for their hands had influenced the knowledge they bring into our classrooms, and into their kindergarten schools.

I have encouraged the teachers to use videos in teaching reading and comprehension to our young ones, especially in attempting to teach difficult to explain concepts such as this book we have about Paris (some of them have never been to Paris, or even if they have, they don’t know what Paris is. “Teacher, is Paris food?”), or where you need a bug hut for
(someone asked me why would you need to make a home for insects when they are, apparently, “yucky”). So useful, yet, what are the positive and negative implications of the internet?

I have divided them into two as I have seen how it can be a double edged sword. In our context, there are:

1. Con- extremely shortened attention spans
2. Con- increased demands of high- end, top- shelf wants such as expensive toys and figures
3. Con- addiction to visuals that promote unrelated lessons, borderline obnoxious
4. Pro- high technological knowledge
5. Pro- students can travel outside our classrooms thru videos
6. Pro- interesting class format
7. Pro- social tool in making the students more well rounded and in contextualizing our
content

A negative effect of exposing students to Youtube is somehow an observed correlation of short attention span in children. They start craving dynamic visuals and loud audios instead of sitting down in a quiet corner to quaintly open a book in peace. Young children also see all sorts of new and expensive toys on website advertisement and I think it can encourage materialism. Addiction to attractive and slapstick humor that are available on the internet also makes a lot of students
trade informational videos to one that don’t really have intrinsic value except being “silly- funny”.

There are definitely good things that come out of using videos in class, such as a sense of informational technolgy at an early age. The pupils can also “travel” outside the class through videos that are rich in experiences and being able to create a vicarious learning atmosphere, which makes for a more interesting class. Lastly, we teachers strive to plan our video- added lessons accordingly to shape the computer as a social tool to let them contextualize the abstract concepts in their heads.

Although in no way we encourage nor foster a computer-culture in our lessons by giving them freedom to use the electronic resources in school (or outside, for that matter), there is an unavoidable effect that we are possibly making them think that Youtube-ing is without limitations. Anyway a teacher uses it, there is always danger that the learners might misinterpret this as a good tool as long as you know how to click and play. Number one hazard is since it is easy to use, Youtube can offer children easy access to anything.

An informed and responsible utilization of technology as a lesson tool is the whole point of the TPACK. Its theoretical framework posits that if teachers meet the required knowledge base of a rich TK, PK and CK and the merger of the three, then effective teaching should take place. As far as our school goes, we try to continually discover the correct synthesis of the TPACK in order to foster the more positive implications it creates and mitigate the bad.

EDS 111 Module 2: Championing teacher professionalism is important

After studying the literature on the different perspectives defining it, I have come to understand that what shapes teaching professionalism has been clouded by paradoxes on what between a strict and quite literal perspective, and a more accommodating, free ranging set of parameters.

Assuming we accept the arguments of Etzioni (1969), David (2000), Leiter (1978) and Samuels (1970) and put teachers under de-organization in order to attain autonomy in their decision making (which is a major criterion, and is a huge critique from the traditional list) is inherently flawed. It is but natural for teachers to be organized under a governing body, be it the school, PTAs and or teachers’ collectives themselves to maintain standards.

Without this no school, no institution can market a specific brand of education, and this is important to be able to cater to particular learners’ needs. A multiple intelligence preschool needs to have teachers maintaining the same standard in order for them to market themselves as a legitimate MI facility. A university professor needs to set objectives for his or her class in order to achieve university standard targets .

The argument that de-professionalizes the teaching occupation because of the unmet autonomy criteria is far from enough to overlook the other, in my opinion, more important qualifications such as its nature as a public service, selfless intention, the strict ethical code it upholds, and having an element of recognition for its achievements; not to mention it is a far too traditional an approach to return to this sort of model.

I feel that the freedom the democratic professionalism approach offers is now much more timely in this post-professional age we are in now (Hargreaves, 2000). But would the profession elitists in contemporary society who are stuck in the ages even be a tad bit willing to consider this kind of “professional debauchery” of traditions?

Demirkasimoglu, N. (2010). Defining ‘Teacher Professionalism’ from Different Perspectives.
Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences Vol. 9 pp. 2047- 2051. doi:
doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.12.444

EDS 111 Module 1: Don’t sweat your TPI

I can imagine how this TPI, or the Teaching Perspective Inventory, left many of us in EDS 111 staring blankly in traffic, or on a printed piece of paper that has a colorful bar graph (I know I printed mine, hehe) perhaps in deep thought, feeling emotional and bewildered on what these five perspectives mean and what they say about our teaching. Does this low result mean I failed on Social Reform, or does my low score on Transmission meant incompetence or inadequacy on my part? I wonder what a high Apprenticeship score mean… it definitely doesn’t sound special. Do I have to retake it? What is this TPI really all about??

I don’t know how many of my classmates can relate to the similar dilemma I was faced after I took the survey, and took it early I did; but it took me a good few days to really digest how these unique sounding terminologies have impacted my teaching past and present. I will avoid parroting what I have already said in the course forum post, but I have come to reflect on an angle about why some readily accept their results and some challenge on what their TPI said.

We could think of these teaching perspectives as glasses we see through (Pratt, 1998) and he couldn’t be more accurate. These are simply dominant biases on how we view our own teaching and the teaching of others, and how that influences our teaching style. But that proposes that we have a general, default go-to teaching style? Is that what Grasha’s clusters are about? Perhaps. But I thought a characteristic of good teaching is being effective in any style we employ? These are some of the questions I wish to explore in the coming modules.

In many ways, the teaching perspectives shows in the style and techniques we use, but for the most part, subconscious in nature. It has showed us a face value of how we really think about teaching. It is a discrete point of view we hold, and that set our individual standards on what teaching should be and what it is not. It is not there to crucify someone to be doomed stuck in that kind of outlook on teaching, nor it should be used to carelessly dismiss someone with a different perspective.

If you are someone who scored low on the developmental, then use your best judgement to address issues this may cause as you deem necessary if you work in a Montessori school. Perhaps you feel that your excessive bias towards the transmission perspective may be hindering you from being heard as a co-learner which you also want to become, then you are now able to pinpoint why. As with most disciplines, knowledge about oneself is a key to improvement; being armed with a new understanding of one’s teaching perspectives couldn’t hurt the chances to grow into the teacher we hope to be.

Module 1 Reflection: What kind of a student am I?

As my first entry under EDS 111 and in my eJournal, allow me to be generic for now. This module asks to talk about myself, and to reveal what kind of learner am I. As boring as the results can be, I did find out supporting truths and a few extremes about me as a huge procrastinator (I got a 59 in the Time Management Skills Test), poor time manager but a very self aware individual.This is quite a paradox, but really, who isn’t one?

I can personally see that it is glaringly counter-intuitive to report a high level of awareness on why I am bad in time management, or why I can never delegate tasks, while strictly keeping a planner every year. I am a such a nitpicker in many aspects of my life and the affairs around it, but why, you might ask, can I never change into a better scheduler?

I already know the answer: because this WORKS for me, procrastination has been effective to knock out my mound of tasks. I have almost always, somehow, able to keep an avalanche up when it is ready to blow out of control. Does it feel good when I cram? No. And I hate to say this, but that is perhaps the only bad thing about it.

Every body has something that works for them. Instead of looking for “study solutions”, one must leave other people to find their own size, what fits them, what’s comfortable, what works.

Personally, I don’t see anything to change if one is a procrastinator like myself, as long as it works and one continues to be effective. Why change something that works? If one should ask, maybe the only thing I’ve been doing about it is “hassle- mitigation” during cramming. Essentially trying to better the process. I try to pace better, delegate and assign, and slowly spread out goals, and this might be the perfect time to apply the above as a distance learner. Looking back, I have anticipated this as I was about to pay at PNB, and I know after I have made that payment I have silently promised that I will, and have to do better as soon as I am student. This time I have decided that I want to study, and my purpose couldn’t be more clearer to me.