Principles of Teaching – Module 3

Content Knowledge
Content knowledge is your knowledge of the subjects you will be teaching. For example, knowing the different planets when teaching the solar system.

Pedagogical Knowledge
Pedagogical knowledge is your knowledge of teaching skills and strategies. For example, instilling classroom rules and routines in your students during the first two weeks of school so that you will have an easier time with classroom management during the rest of the school year.

Technology Knowledge
Technology knowledge is your knowledge of the different tools and technology available. This refers to both low and high technology. For example, using a marker and laminated paper to practice writing letters, or using a smartboard to check the attendance.

Pedagogical Content Knowledge
Pedagogical content knowledge is your knowledge of which teaching strategies would best suit different topics. For example, Dolch words can be introduced to a class as a whole, through a simple story, but for daily reviewing, it is best done individually to avoid students copying each other’s answers, and in order to accurately monitor each student’s progress.

Technological Content Knowledge
Technological content knowledge is your knowledge base regarding which technologies would most effectively demonstrate or test different topics. For example, a revolving mobile of the planets would demonstrate to the students how the planets revolve around the sun, and what our solar system looks like.

Technological Pedagogical Knowledge
Technological pedagogical knowledge is your knowledge base on how technology can be used to carry out basic day-to-day teaching tasks. For example, using a smartboard to make checking attendance more fun for the students.

On using technology in education…
Most parents these days have an all-or-nothing approach to digital technology. In my opinion, this is unrealistic and a waste of a good opportunity. To me, it would be like having a laptop but telling your child that they have to use a typewriter instead. Technology has always been part of the learning experience, it’s just that we’ve advanced so much that people tend to forget that. We’ve come a long way from learning Math through an abacus and since the time of the overhead projector. Our children are lucky because they have the whole world at their fingertips. We shouldn’t be depriving them of this technology, but we shouldn’t be just letting them have a free-for-all either. Just like with anything else, there should be rules and moderation. We have to make sure to use technology carefully and wisely in order to enrich the learning experience of our children.

As teachers, however, there is the struggle of letting the tool take over. There is a tendency for the technology to be the focus of the activity, rather than the lesson that you are trying to impart. Technology should be used mindfully and in appropriate doses so that students are not overwhelmed or distracted by the medium, and forget the message altogether.

Principles of Teaching – Module 2

 

Part 1

I practice teacher professionalism through the following:

  • I make sure that I am equipped with adequate knowledge. My first step was taking up the Professional Teaching Certificate program. I wanted to have the basic knowledge that every teacher should know. I also keep myself updated by reading articles and books related to the field of Education.
  • I treat my students fairly. I must admit that it is natural to feel a fondness for certain students more than others, but I don’t let this affect the way I treat my students. I make sure that I give them all an equal chance, and that I don’t let my feelings take over.
  • I maintain a professional relationship with the parents of my students. Over the course of the school year, my relationships with the parents of my students grows. After all, we do bond over our shared love for the children and through sharing strategies and feedback in the corridors after classes. However, as long as I am the teacher of their child, I make sure that our relationships are strictly professional, and do not let my feelings about the parents affect the way I treat my students. I also maintain teacher-student-parent confidentiality.
  • Despite any struggles with the school or the management, I make sure not to speak ill of either one. As the saying goes, do not bite the hand that feeds you. Also, I should make sure that I don’t let the parents feel that the school is anything but united and peaceful.

Part 2

  1. How does your definition of teacher professionalism compare or contrast with the traditional definition or old notions of teacher professionalism and the collaborative, democratic, and transformative notions of professionalism?

    My original definition of teacher professionalism was very focused on myself. I didn’t take into account how I am part of a bigger picture. In the transformative notion of professionalism, teaching is developing from the old notions to the new. From being exclusive to being inclusive, from being concerned with one’s self-interest to being collaborative and collegial. From having external regulation to being self-regulating. From being slow to change to responsive. From being conservative to being flexible and progressive. I think teachers themselves need to fight for being accepted as a modern professional in a modern and changing world. If we want to be respected by others, we must first and foremost respect ourselves, and our chosen profession. We do this by collaborating with other teachers, constantly learning, growing, and improving our practice. We must fight for our right to make our own decisions regarding our teaching styles and strategies, in order for our work to be the most sincere and fruitful that it can be.

  2. After studying the resources, has your definition of teacher professionalism changed? Why or why not? If yes, how do you define teacher professionalism now and how is it different from your previous definition?

    After studying the resources of this module, I would say that yes, my definition of teacher professionalism has changed. I used to understand professionalism on a very personal level. I had my own interpretation of it based on what I inferred was appropriate for a professional teacher. That is not to say that my original thoughts on teacher professionalism were wrong. It’s just that now, I understand it on a grander scale.

    A professional teacher is someone who has sufficient knowledge on education, both through study and experience. Because of this experience, they are able to make autonomous decisions in the classroom. A professional teacher is someone who has high moral standards and deeply rooted values. They are someone you can confidently entrust your students to, and someone that society can look up to.

  3. What kind of professional teacher/educator would you like to be in the future?
    I would like to be the kind of teacher who draws from a wealth of knowledge regarding my chosen field, which is early childhood education. This is knowledge that I attain through study, which I began here in UPOU, through reading books, articles, attending trainings and seminars, and of course, through years of experience. I have learned so much already in my first two years of teaching, but I know that this also means that I have so much more to learn. Early childhood education is something that I’m passionate about. Right now, I am exploring what is out there in this field, and learning about different perspectives, schools of thought, and techniques. In a few years’ time, I hope to have finally settled on my own distinct perspective and values as a teacher.

    I would like to be the kind of teacher that is both loved and respected by her students. I want to be able to connect with every single child, and encourage them to pursue a love for learning. I want every classroom that I handle to have a warm and nurturing environment. I want students to feel safe and to feel that they can explore their surroundings and express themselves. That is not to say that it is a kind of free-for-all. I still want them to understand how to behave consciously and mindfully among others, and to be good people with good values and manners.

    I would like to be the kind of teacher that my colleagues can go up to if they want to exchange ideas, unburden teaching problems, or share new strategies. Professional teachers shouldn’t feel threatened by other teachers. Instead, they should uplift each other and help each other grow. No one can be there better for a teacher than their fellow teachers.

Principles of Teaching – Module 1

Did your definition of reflection and your opinions of reflective teaching practice change? Why or why not?

After going through the readings in Module 1, I would say that my definition of reflection has changed in the sense that it has deepened my understanding of reflective teaching practice.

I first encountered the concept of reflection when I was in elementary school. At the end of every week, during our Catechism class, our teacher would ask us to write a reflection in our journals. Of course, this involved thinking about our actions through a Christian perspective. Perhaps this is why I always defined reflection in my mind as a solitary activity. No one but you and your God knows your thoughts and actions, and in reflection, you will not be judged by anyone else as long as you keep things private. I guess that’s the most difficult part of reflection – seeing yourself in an unforgiving light and accepting your shortcomings.

I’ve come to realize that I was wrong about my assumption of reflection being a purely solitary activity. Yes, the only way to begin reflection is on your own. But sometimes you need to see yourself through another person’s eyes to really get the complete picture. In teaching, I find that it is especially useful to make use of our colleague’s experiences. However, it can’t just be any colleague. It should be someone who has witnessed enough to be able to make a detailed observation, and also, it should be someone you trust. For reflection to be a healthy experience, you need to do it with someone who makes you feel safe, but also someone who you know will tell you the truth. It’s not easy to find this person, but if you do, consider yourself lucky, and make sure to engage in reflection with this person on a regular basis. They will be able to give you a different perspective on both you and your students. Also, they can confirm the opinions you have regarding yourself (or inversely, tell you that you’ve got it all wrong). It always helps to have someone there who will be able to pull you out of your comfort zone. Reflection isn’t always going to be easy. Sometimes, you’re going to need a little courage. It’s definitely a big help if you have a colleague to support you and give you that vote of confidence, or gentle shove in the right direction.

Critics

As teachers, our job is not to teach students what to think, but how to think.

One important lesson that students should be learning is how to handle criticism. I think it’s a lot easier for most students to handle constructive feedback when it comes from their teachers. Since they know that the person the feedback is coming from is more knowledgeable than them, and is a person of authority, it is easier for them to accept the criticism. It’s another story, however, when it’s their peers.

Knowing how to gracefully accept criticism is an important life skill that one needs to learn. When I was working in advertising, this is something that caused a lot of stress for some people. This doesn’t have to be the case though.

Here is an article from Psychology Today, on how to receive criticism with grace:

  1. Assess whether the person criticizing you leaves you feeling emotionally and physically safe.

If this is someone you trust, who you know has your best interests at heart, invite the criticism. If this is someone unsafe who does not have your best interests at heart, it’s okay to set boundaries around uninvited criticism. You don’t have to sit through a violent verbal attack. If you have a history with an unsafe person who wants to criticize you, it’s okay to ask that person to save the criticism for when you can have a mediator present, someone like a therapist. It’s also okay to refuse to listen if you’re not wanting to keep a relationship. But it very worth inviting criticism from the people who are really trying to help.

  1. Listen generously to the person who is criticizing you.

When the ego is feeling defensive and hurt, it’s so easy to interrupt and start defending yourself before the person criticizing you even gets a chance to finish what is being said. Resist the urge to jump in and cut off the person criticizing you. Place your full attention on the person speaking and wait until they’ve finished speaking to respond.

  1. Be humble.

Avoid the tendency to make someone wrong just because they’re criticizing you. No matter how awesome you are, chances are, there’s room for improvement. Be willing to be wrong.

  1. Find a way to make the person criticizing you right, even if you disagree with what is being said.

Acknowledge what is being said. Recognize the courage it took for your criticizer to speak up. That doesn’t mean you have to own what is being said, but it does mean you create safety for the criticizer by offering reassurance that it’s safe to criticize you without threatening the relationship. Thank the person who criticized you. Assuming what was said was expressed with your best interests in mind, be grateful that you’re in a relationship with someone who wants to help you live a happier, healthier, more productive, more aligned life. It’s not easy to grow and evolve out of our unconscious habitual patterns. We can only do it with the support of those who are committed to helping lift us up.

  1. Filter the criticism through the lens of your truth.

Don’t automatically believe all criticism, but don’t automatically reject it all either. When you believe all criticism, you’ll get so traumatized that you’ll stop putting yourself out there, and if you reject all criticism without looking for the truth in it, you’ll turn into a diva. Consider the criticism and examine it to see if it feels true when you assess it not with your ego, but with your Inner Pilot Light. Discerning what rings true for you and what doesn’t is essential.

  1. Check for projections.

Sometimes people criticize you when they’re really criticizing themselves, projecting onto you what they don’t like about themselves. These kinds of criticisms aren’t clean. For example, if you’re thinking about taking a risk, like quitting a job you’re unhappy in, someone who is too scared to quit their own unhappy job might criticize you for being irresponsible, when really, it’s not about you. It’s about them.

  1. Throw out what isn’t true.

If someone is just pummeling you with mean-spirited criticism or if you deem the criticism pure projection, shake it off. Dance it off even! Don’t let it poison your body, mind, or soul. If the criticism doesn’t feel true, assess whether it’s safe to say so.  If it’s your boss or your client criticizing you, you may have to just nod and suck it up. But if it’s someone you’re close to and the criticism doesn’t feel accurate, voice your honest thoughts gently and without defensiveness.

  1. Own what you discern to be true.

If your criticizer is right, say so. It’s incredibly validating to the person going out on a limb to criticize you to feel heard and acknowledged if you deem it to be true.

  1. Don’t beat yourself up.

If your criticizer is right, acknowledge the truth of how you could improve, but don’t beat yourself up. Avoid using the criticism as an excuse to shame yourself.

  1. Soothe yourself.

Your ego may feel bruised after the critique. Do what you can to comfort yourself with something pleasurable. Get a foot massage. Take a long bath. Read a good book or watch a funny movie. Call a close friend and have a good cry. Soak in a hot tub. Give yourself a hug and honor yourself for being such a good sport in the midst of criticism. Only when we’re humbly open to criticism can we grow into the best versions of ourselves.

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/owning-pink/201405/10-tips-receiving-criticism-grace

Personal Preferences

Most of the time, when going through my readings, I read through the eyes of a teacher. But every now and then I can’t help but think back to the time when I was still going to school. It makes me wonder what my teachers went through and how they saw me. But that’s another story…

In this module, I keep thinking back to when I was in high school. To be honest, I wasn’t the most involved student. I moved to my high school as a sophomore, and I really didn’t like it there. Most of our assessments were traditional, and what I didn’t like was how I didn’t feel like I was really learning anything. I was just memorizing one chunk of notes after the other just to pass my tests. I found it boring and unproductive. I was storing data and deleting them as soon as I finished my periodical exams.

I really enjoyed college though. In college, we did have some traditional assessments here and there, but since I went to an art school, most of our assessments were practical. We were doing hands-on work to show what we had learned, and I really enjoyed that. But admittedly, I remember there were times when I’d actually miss the traditional types of tests… but this was when I’d be swamped with projects. You know what they say, the grass is always greener on the other side. I’m glad I had that kind of college experience though. However, I still think that a mix of traditional and alternative assessments is best. One should not be without the other. I think schools really need to work on figuring that part out.

Enjoy the Ride

One of the things I like about the preschool where I currently teach is the curriculum. I teach my three-year-old students things like the skeletal system, ordinals, and animal habitats. Some of them can already sight read and soon I will be introducing them to addition. When I was new, I would read the schema and ask my co-teachers, “Are we really going to teach them this?” It amazes me how much they are able to absorb.

This school is also big on activities. Right now, we’re approaching that time of the school year when things are getting really busy. We have performances, activities and events that we need to prepare for. Sometimes it feels really overwhelming, and I feel like I’m on autopilot, doing everything I need to do and fitting in as much in a day as possible. I just want to be able to give my students the best experiences. I want them to be able to learn as much as they can.

However, I’ve always been a big believer in “quality over quantity” and this module reminded me of that. Of course, I can’t do anything about the expectations of the management of the school. I have to comply with everything that they want us to do. But I guess I have to remind myself to take a step back from all the hustle and bustle to assess if my students are not being swept away by the currents too. I also need to assess my methods of instruction and figure out what works best for them, what needs adjustment, and what needs to be scrapped altogether. Preschool feels like a rollercoaster sometimes, but I have to remind myself to slow down and enjoy the ride.

Creativity Is Intelligence Having Fun

What was your most memorable exam? I doubt that many people can answer that question with a warm, fuzzy feeling. One of the last exams I took was particularly memorable to me – it was an entrance exam for a high profile multinational company, and I was on my second round of testing. This time, much to my dismay, much Mathematics was involved. High level, complex Mathematics. As my fellow test takers took out their complicated-looking scientific calculators, I took out my hot pink one. I was only able to confidently answer half of the questions. As for the other half, I shrugged it off and took the shotgun approach. I wasn’t that emotionally invested in this exam, so I mostly found the situation amusing, but if this were a situation back in high school, I most likely wouldn’t have felt the same way.

Back in elementary school and middle school though, I do remember some pretty fun and interesting things we did in school that I only realize now were actually our teachers’ ways of assessing us on what we’ve learned. For example, when I was in elementary school, and we were learning about the animal kingdom, our teacher asked us to “design” our own animal. We chose everything from how it looked, to what it ate, where it lived, how it reproduced, etc. We drew our animals and presented it to the class. We had a big chart for all of our animals and discussed which kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species they were in. Our teacher would ask us questions to make sure everything in sync. We worked on it together for a week or two before the day of the presentation, and it was so much fun. It didn’t feel like work at all, but I learned so much from it, and it’s a memory that I look back on fondly until this day.

Another example of a fun activity we did was back in middle school, when we were learning about Egypt. We turned our classroom into an Egyptian tomb. We covered the windows and decorated the walls. Everyone in the class made something – a coffin, a vase, a mural, jewelry, etc. We sent out invitations to our parents and friends to come visit our Egyptian tour, and one evening, we all dressed up as tour guides, held flashlights, and walked our loved ones through our Egyptian tomb, talking about everything that you could find inside. I learned more from that activity than any lecture we had in high school, and I’m sure my teacher was also able to assess us well on what we were able to learn.

I know that not all assessments can be like this. There is a purpose for those traditional, teacher-centered methods of test taking and paper writing and I don’t believe that we should get rid of them. But experiences like these are what really make a student’s educational experience rich and fulfilling, and I hope to be able to provide this kind of education for my own students too.