Final Thoughts

One thing that really struck me while going through the modules this term was just how much thought goes into everything a teacher does. No matter how big or how small, we never make decisions “just because.” There’s always a reason for it, something we want to achieve, and we always take into consideration its implications on our students. Another thing I realized that, throughout my career, one of the most important things I can do is to never stop learning. Naturally, learning will take place as every day in the classroom is a lesson not just for the students, but for the teachers as well. But we shouldn’t just rely on that. We should read as much as we can, engage in conversations with our co-teachers and learn from their experiences too, and if we can, pursue further education – not just for ourselves, but for our students. I know this is easier said than done. My friends outside the teaching profession probably wonder I’m so tired at the end of the day, when I only teach one class and get off work at 4pm. They don’t realize just how draining teaching can be – mentally, physically, and emotionally. When I get home, I just want to pass out on my bed until I find the energy to move again. Studying takes a lot of effort, and it really is a challenge fitting it into our already very busy lives.

Looking back, I remember many times throughout this course when I would question why I enrolled in this course in the first place. I would feel like there was always too much to do, and not enough time. I constantly have to remind myself about all the things I’m learning and how it will benefit me in the long run. I didn’t graduate with a degree in Education, but I find that studying about it now while I am employed as a teacher makes the learning process more meaningful. Everything I read, I am able to relate right away to my personal experiences as a teacher, and anything I learn, I can put into action immediately. I’m sure it would have been a completely different experience if I had studied these things theoretically years before putting them into practice.

I suppose my goal, as a teacher, is to make learning a truly lifelong journey. I know it will be difficult – I’m still trying to find my balance, getting everything done while not letting myself feel as if I am losing my mind. But being a teacher is really a big part of who I am, and I know that the sacrifices I need to make will be worth it.

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Module 5: Professional Development and Professional Learning Community

Of the four metaphors for continuing professional development – retooling, remodeling, revitalizing and reimagining – it’s revitalizing that struck with me the most. Yes, it’s good to read up, attend talks and seminars, or pursue further studies, but I find that my most valuable resource is still my fellow teachers. We can learn a lot from books, but there is so much value in the day-to-day learnings that goes on in a teacher’s life. Everyone goes through something different, and if you add up all the experiences of all the teachers in your school, that’s a wealth of knowledge just waiting to be tapped into.

When I’m challenged by a student, one of the first things I do is to go online and research. The next thing I do is talk it out with someone, either my co-teacher, a teacher who has handled that student before, or just a teacher that I can open up to and ask for advice. More often than not, they will be able to point out something to me that I hadn’t seen, just because they are looking at things from a different perspective, or have experienced something that I didn’t.

As teachers, we should never stop learning. There is always something more to learn, especially with our pedagogical skills and content knowledge. There are many ways to learn – through the government, through the schools where we are employed, through books, journals, articles, masters programs, graduate school, etc. These are all valuable sources of information. But we mustn’t forget about another important resource – our professional learning communities. No one will be able to understand us better than our fellow teachers. It is important that we are able to foster that supportive, caring relationship with them – because if we don’t help each other, who will?

Module 4: Teaching Perspectives and Approaches

As I think I’ve mentioned in some of my discussion forum posts before, I am currently at a crossroads. I recently moved to a new preschool and I feel like I’m starting all over again. The school I used to teach in was a traditional school – very different from the progressive approach of the new school I am currently working in. What can I say about the progressive approach so far? I think it’s modern, it’s thoughtful, it’s focused on the students – and I really like it so far, but I have a lot to learn and the adjustment is turning out to be more difficult than I thought. I thought I was the kind of teacher that put her students before herself, but looking back, I realized that you can’t really completely do that at a traditional school, where everything is based on what the teachers want to do. It’s easy to tell students that they should listen to you, because you know better and that you are always right. But the truth is, you don’t always know better and you aren’t always right. Sometimes, our students actually know better and sometimes, they’re the ones who are right. We just need to allow ourselves the chance to witness this firsthand.

This module helped me a lot because it confirmed all the recent learning I acquired in my new workplace. At my new school, we have to listen to our students and figure out what they’re interested in, and what they want to learn. We equip them with resources, but ultimately, let them construct their own learning. It’s not as easy as telling them that this week, we’re learning about farm animals, and next week, it’s outer space… but I must say, it’s much more rewarding. We also have real, intelligent conversations with our students. We ask them what they think and why they think that, and try not to feed them with the answers we want to hear. It takes a little more patience, but it’s amazing how many times in a day your students can surprise you. After reading this module, my perspective hasn’t changed, but I would say my new beliefs have been reinforced. I have a lot to learn about these contemporary ideas, but I’m trying not to be afraid of the unfamiliar, and I’m learning to fall in love with the process.

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