One teaches, two learn

Greetings!

Welcome to my page!

I am still exploring how to write here at wordpress so please bear with me. 🙂

Let me share you this quote from Robert John Meehan, ‘Teachers who love teaching, teach children to love learning’

Good day to you.

-gEn-

EDS111_3t2016_Module1: Critically Reflecting on Reflection

Module 1 has been a challenge for me. I thought I have been reflective in both my learning and teaching. As a student, I was good at taking notes and I study my notes many times in order for me to learn whatever lesson I was into. Usually, I gave myself time and space and be away from distractions for me to focus on my studies. I would internalize on the things that I have learned, trying to understand difficult concepts, and finally integrating entire lesson. With regards to my teaching experience, reflective teaching practice for me was about being aware of different strategies and putting them on record (journal). This will then serve as basis in evaluating what practices need improvement or what needs to change. However, this module made me realize that I had a myopic view of what critically reflective teacher is. Allow me then to communicate what I learned using the reflective cycle by Gibbs.

gibbs-cycle

Description (What happened?)

This module taught me about reflective practise, how it is done, and how it can help educators improve their teaching practices. Also, I learned how to differentiate reflection from critical reflection. What I realized was that my view of reflection was so narrow that I have to think real hard and try to understand all the concepts presented in the first module. Honestly, I am still trying to purposely apply all the learning that I have (most especially the use of four lenses namely autobiographies as learner/teacher, students, colleagues, and theoretical literatures), hence this explain my attempts at writing this journal following Gibb’s reflective cycle. I still have difficulty understanding concepts such as those categories of assumptions. To hunt for assumptions was already a struggle; much more pressing was to classify them into categories such as paradigmatic, prescriptive, and causal assumptions.

Feelings (What were you thinking and feeling?)

I was thinking that critical reflection was done alone but was surprised to learn that it should involve other people’s perspective as well as from theoretical literature. I thought the process of reflection was that simple only to be overwhelmed by the depth and processes one needs to undergo (Gibb’s cycle).I felt sad that I was not reflective during my college days. I regret not learning this earlier. But now, I am excited to learn about critical reflection to improve my learning and teaching.

Evaluation (What was good and bad about the experience?)

Looking back, my struggles (focus, discipline, time management) and failures (yes I have failing grades) will now serve as lessons learned. It may be seen as bad experience but I cannot do anything now, except to strive harder and not repeat the same mistakes or bad habits. What is good about it is that I am now committed to doing the right way, which is to be critically reflective.

Analysis (What sense can you make of the situation?)

If I am to hunt for assumptions regarding my learning, I would say that all my actions came from what I think I know. My assumptions were based on what I experienced and what I observed from others. Say for example, if I spent more time in studying a subject, I will get high grades. To me, more time spent means more knowledge and understanding gained. As it turned out, more time does necessarily mean ‘productive’ study. Even if you study for short time, for as long as your mind is receptive then study time is effective. The key here is to study reflectively. Another assumption was that reflection is done alone, on a solitary place, where one can spend time thinking about an event that took place. To me, reflection is a way to rewind happenings and to finally let go of whatever feelings you are harbouring. Be it frustrations, regret, or positive vibes (just to feel good). But then again, critical reflection involves other’s input like that of peers, teachers/students, and literatures. It was never an ‘alone’ activity, nor does it stop when you feel good or to let go of bad feelings. Instead, critical reflection likewise covers your plan of action. Furthermore, it is not a one way process but a cycle. Last example I can think of was the assumption that an excellent student (with honours) makes an excellent teacher. Of course I learned this earlier in my university days that it was not so. Teaching is more than the possession of knowledge or critical thinking. Teaching involves not just the transmission of whatever knowledge, skills, or behaviour to students, but more of finding ways how to facilitate learning, providing for nurturing environment that maximizes both learning and teaching.

Conclusion (What else could you have done?)

I therefore conclude that reflective teaching practice is the process of deliberate and systematic application of critical reflection. Teacher benefit from critical reflection as they will learn how to become lifelong learners, understand how they learn so they can articulate their learning to others, and to keep records of development to further hone their teaching skills/instruction.

Action Plan (If it arose again, what would you do?)

Having known the importance of critical reflection, I commit to become a critically reflective teacher. From now on, I will keep record of learning experiences or critical instances where I can reflect and develop a habit of writing critical reflection using the four lenses. Lastly, I commit to learning continuously as this will improve my pedagogic actions.

After reading the resources of this module, did your definition of reflection and your opinions of reflective teaching practice change?  Why or why not?  How? 

After reading the resources in module 1, my definition of reflection and my opinion of reflective teaching practice definitely changed for the better. What I used to view as personal or alone time thinking (reflection) was much more than what I thought it was. Now, I view reflection from a wider perspective using the four different lenses. Moreover, I am now committed to applying reflective teaching in my future endeavours.

Finally, to echo the lesson objectives of this module, a critical reflection skill is essential for transformative teaching, lifelong learning and continuing professional development. Since educators are at the forefront of learning, they should be empowered to conduct objective and principled self-evaluation, to engage in collaborative reflection, be better educators and decision makers, and to solve issues and improve their practices.

 

References:

University of Kent. What is reflective learning? https://www.kent.ac.uk/learning/PDP-and-employability/pdp/reflective.html

University of Kent. Becoming a critically reflective teacher. https://www.kent.ac.uk/teaching/documents/qualifications/criticallyreflectiveteacher.pdf

 

 

EDS103_3t2016_Module 1_Learning is Life!

 

What is learning? This question seems so easy to answer because I believe I have been learning since I can remember. But then again, what is learning? It took me more than a month to finally force myself to come up with a ‘concrete’ definition of learning. Prior to studying module 1, my definition of learning is ‘Learning is a lifelong process of explorations and discoveries, acquiring knowledge and making sense of life experiences in order to improve the quality of our lives’. Having exhausted all that I have learned about learning, and comparing to Schunk definition of learning which is ‘Learning is an enduring change in behaviour, or the capacity to behave in a given fashion, which results from practice or other forms of experience.’ (Schunk, 2012), I can say that somehow, my definition of learning and that of Schunk’s are similar. Here, Schunk gave three elements of learning, namely: 1) change, 2) endurance over time, and 3) consequence of experience. Going back to my definition, I think I have satisfactorily incorporated the three elements. However, after going through the many readings and resources for module 1, I can say that learning is so much more. What I am sure of right now is that my definition of learning will again be ‘refined’ along the way. So let me look back on my learning journey…

 

How did I learn before? So far I can say that in terms of academics, I have travelled fairly well. I finished my engineering degree on time, I was able to enrol for a diploma course then decided to pursue masteral (although I was not able to finish it), and now, I am into professional teaching course. When I was just starting on my career, I set goals about my (future) family and career. I remember making timelines. In it were the things I want to have like cars, houses, and more properties (you name it). Moreover, I set goals for life’s major events such as getting married, having kids, finish graduate school (even post PhDs), and be successful as I have always dreamt of. Yes, back then good education was my ticket to accomplish all these goals. So I was focused with my studies. As a student, I think I learned to study to the test. Learning was all about putting the course syllabus to heart, making sure that I successfully finish all requirements. Now that I am into ‘formal’ (I paid for a tuition, this is not free so I must strive to do harder, sayang ang pera!) learning again, I realized that my study habits or my attitude is still the same. Yes, I still have to learn so many things.

 

I looked at my transcript of records, diploma, and certificates. I accumulated ‘evidences’ of my learning. Yet I am not confident that I learn because honestly, I have not really gain mastery of my subjects in college. My learning was not that deep, it was all superficial. All those higher Mathematics and engineering subjects, I think they just went down the drain. Most of what I learned in school was not what I needed in real life. I don’t think that my education corresponds to what my job demands. So this experience made me realize that to stay competitive in the workforce, we must not stop learning. We should not be content in having a university degree because whether we like it or not, we need work to earn incomes that provides for our needs and wants.  To learn more will give us the advantage in life—job promotion, confidence, or just more determination to be at the top of whatever endeavours we are in.

 

How should I learn now? Module 1 of this course talks about the many different theories in learning and how it can impact both our own learning and teaching. As aspiring teacher myself, I need to maximize my learning in order for me to become the effective (critically reflective) teacher that I would like to be. I shall look into details on how I apply all these theories of learning covered in the succeeding modules. But for now, my take away for module 1 is that our learning needs awareness, a conscious effort on our part to continuously seek to apply and test theories and principles that we gain through learning. We have to be critically reflective and have to put into writings (like eJournal) as these will serve as reference in explaining our learning/teaching experiences. Having said that, allow me to write the new concepts that I learn. From now on, I will continue to develop theoretical knowledge about content and pedagogy (Technical Rationality) that will eventually be called Practise-based theory due to further improvement in the knowledge developed. Moreover, I will adapt and experiment with the different practises, applications, and development of theories, hence the Theory-in-use. Finally, I will synthesis these theories and practices to become tacit knowledge. And the learning cycles go on and on. It never stops!

 

What then is learning? In the above definition, learning has three elements. Now, I can say that learning has much more elements in it. Learning is alive and dynamic. It is a lifelong process. We have to maximize our own learning to benefit from it, whether in teaching or across various discipline. We have to cultivate our learning or else it becomes stunted. Our learning should manifest in our interactions or dealings with others because eventually, the goal of learning is finding meaning to life and appreciating our very existence. Learning therefore is life itself.

 

Ten stopovers on the way

This serves as my Final Post for EDS 113. 🙂

If learning is a journey, where would I be? The 10-weeks journey to learning assessment has been an adventurous one. With extra ‘baggage’ (the life of a stay-at-home mom with a toddler, a pre-schooler, and a 3rd grade kid) to carry with me, I think I managed to climb up the hills and to the mountain’s peak. Now, I have a better perspective and can appreciate the view below. I used to dread assessment because it means having to prepare for an examination that requires memorization, and that I need to get high grades to be in the Honor Roll. This myopic view of assessment has been changed.

Let me share with you my 10 stopovers along the way.

  1. Assessment. I will always bring with me my knowledge and skills on assessment because it is an integral part of learning-teaching.
  2. Evidence of Learning. I will continually look for sound evidence of learning. That way, I know I am at the right path.
  3. Assessment Cycle. This one goes round and round. The Plan-Do-Check-Act is a handy reference.
  4. Alignment. When the going gets rough and the road becomes bouncy, look again on the objectives and do the necessary re-alignment of activities and assessment.
  5. Bloom’s Taxonomy. This is a good tester to carry on a journey. I should not be content with low-level thinking skills, instead strive for higher-level.
  6. Effective Feedback. This is a mirror; it reflects my learning progress so I will clearly see what needs to be done.
  7. Peer & Self-Assessment. This is not just about me, it is also about whom I journey with. I need to assess whether I am an asset or a liability to the group. I should know what to do.
  8. Traditional & Non-traditional. Along the way, we will realize that we have different preference. Just choose what is appropriate for the task at hand. Traditional or Non-traditional, both are important.
  9. Table of Specifications. This is checklist for what to bring along in our trip. We make sure to cover everything we need to successfully pass the test.
  10. Rubrics. Never lose sight of your guide map. It tells you how to arrive at your next destination.

So where am I in my journey? I think I just scaled Mt. Pulag! One more trimester and I will reach Mt. Apo. For who knows, the next expedition would be Mt. Everest.

To my fellow climbers, thank you for the company, I learned so much from your posts on discussion forums, from reading your thoughts and reflections on your journal, and for the collaborative learning in making our assignment. Truly, two heads are better than one.

To our Guide, Teacher Malou, you have always been an encouragement right from the start. I may not be sending you messages but please know that I read all your post, announcement, and yes your tips/clues and I appreciate all your efforts. Your Essential Stuffs (Course Guide and Power Tools) were really helpful. Now I got to pay more attention to rubrics and I will try to maintain my eJournal.

And of course, special thanks to my family for keeping up with my ‘craziness’ every due date.

So long farewell, till our next climb. Bon Voyage!

 

 

 

 

EDS113_Module 6 – My Lifelong Commitment to learning

As I study Module 6, I came to realize that there are just so many classroom assessment techniques that a teacher can employ for effective teaching and improve learning for the students. What strikes me most is the use of alternative assessment techniques.  I am at awed of how creativity and innovative techniques can impact authentic tasks to achieve better learning experience. On this particular module, I also learned that for test to be effective, it should be designed in a systematic way like setting up Table of Specifications (TOS) just to make sure that assessment is aligned with the objectives, and that the test design satisfies  the different cognitive level. This TOS is mainly use to design traditional assessment but can be improved or modified to suit alternative assessments. Moreover, I came to appreciate the use of rubrics in giving scores and how it can be used as reference for student to gauge the quality of their own work and to encourage self-assessment to improve further learning. Similarly, the use of feedback in assessment can greatly contribute to the achievement of learning goals because timely and effective feedback is meant to improve tasks.

From my experienced, most of the assessment I have had were of traditional kinds. Assessment usually consists of multiple choices, true/false, fill-in the blank, and other commonly used techniques in the classroom. I doubt if this teacher made assessment have gone thru systematic design using a TOS. I remember being frustrated at times when my expectations of certain tests or exams have failed me. Sometimes, test only consist of one type, say all multiple choice. Other times, all questions require an essay answer. And by the way, according to good teaching practises, teachers must refrain from giving the students freedom to choose and answer essays that they want to write about. Ideally, students in one class must answer the same set of questions in order for the teacher get a precise measurement of the class learning. But then again, what is more important in designing effective test is to have clear goal or purpose in doing such assessment.

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EDS113_Module 5 – LET me pass!

The Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) is fast approaching. It is a high stake testing administered to aspiring teachers to be granted professional license to practise teaching in the Philippines. But do we really need to pass the examination to get into the teaching profession?

In Module 5, we learned about traditional and non-traditional assessments. Of particular interest to me are these high-stakes assessments. One example is the board examination. According to critiques, high stakes assessments are not reflective of true learning. It does not reflect the competency and mastery that has been acquired or developed by the learners. The result of testing mainly shows low-level thinking skills. Worst, failure in such test can be more damaging and depressing for the test takers.  Add to that the pressure and negative impact that the assessment give to teachers and school administrators.

Looking at the statistics of the last LET administered in September 2016, only 30.18% for elementary teachers and 34.78% for secondary teachers passed the said examination. Roughly one-third of all those who took LET successfully earn a favourable mark. It was further announced that not all passers were first time takers. So what can we conclude from the test result? Was the test valid? Was it reliable? Can we safely conclude that all those who pass the exam are good teachers and those who failed are not?

I myself am a board passer. I passed the Agricultural Engineer Licensure Examination in 2003.  Looking back, I can say that maybe I could have done better in my studies had I been made aware with formative assessment. Maybe, just maybe, I should have enjoyed learning and not subjected myself with too much pressure reviewing for board exam. I remember, right after the board exam, I felt so down and helpless. It was like five years of college education and 10 years prior were not enough to prepare me for the dreaded licensure exam. For three days, I turned off my cellular phone and did not want to communicate with anyone. Result of the board exam was released and a congratulatory greeting from a close friend made me regain strength and confidence to face people again. Yeah, passing the exam felt good!  But truth be told, passing the board exam will not necessary mean that you are well equipped with the knowledge, skills and competence you need to practise your chosen profession. For me, no matter how well you studied, nothing compares to becoming lifelong learners.

So, can we conclude that those who pass the LET are good teachers? For me, the fact that they pass the examination means that they devoted time, effort, and dedication to study their lessons. They may not have been aware about assessment but they did their best and given the chance to pursue further professional development, each teacher will become good at reflective teaching and learning.

Personally, I learned so much from this course. I now appreciate educational assessment. It used to be just about testing, and grading, and passing. But assessment is so much more. For me, formative assessment should be taught to students. Every types of assessment (be it formative, summative, formal, or informal) administered to the students should be explained well and that students will actively get involved in the process. At first, it may take time and effort for the teacher to help and guide the students, but through consistent practise, assessment will become a natural part of learning.

So, do we really need to pass the board examination to get into the teaching profession? Yes, a BIG YES! As I have said earlier, formative assessment should be taught to students to maximize their learning experience. Given that, there should be no excuse not to pass a summative assessment, much more a high-stake one such as LET. I believe the Board of Professional Teachers has design an assessment that put together traditional assessment like multiple choice but incorporate non-traditional approaches that involves higher-order thinking skills. The licensure exam, I believe, is objective, valid and reliable and will serve its purpose in holding up to the teaching profession and to upholding public accountability to quality education.

EDS113_Module 4 – Type of Assessments

Had I known the different types of assessment and their purposes, I should have maximized my learning and enjoyed it to the fullest. I wish I had asked more questions and clarifications from my instructors/professors about things that were not clear, or just admit honestly that I did not understood the lesson. In that way, maybe, just maybe, the teacher  could have exerted more effort and patience in making clear of the lessons. I wish I had been more reflective of my learning, making sense of the things that I was studying instead of just studying for the sake of having high grades. I wish I had been taught how to use assessment AS learning, especially Informal and Formative, that way it would have been easier to integrate all the learning and actually apply it to real world situation. But now that I am learning about assessment, I think it is not yet too late to benefit from it. Lifelong learning is a must now. We never stop learning so let us strive to be more mindful of using assessment to improve our learning and yes, given the opportunity to teach, let us commit to using assessment as tool for our students to help them achieve their learning goals.

Given the opportunity to teach, I will do my best to help and guide the students to use assessment to improve their learning, and of course for me to use assessment to better equip me with my teaching strategies. To achieve an effective learning environment, I will make sure that students feel safe and assured that they are given the freedom to explore things and be guided with their learning journey. The students will have the liberty to ask questions and not be intimidated or belittled but are encourage seeking knowledge and understanding. Moreover, I will try to promote the use of peer assessment with my co-teachers to conduct assessment of each other’s performance. Teachers will have to assess their co-teachers in order to give constructive feedback to improve their teaching practises. That way, both will learn from each other, imitating practises that are effective while trying to improve practises that are deem ineffective. Having said all these, I do think that professional development for teachers should be institutionalized.

It is through professional development that teachers are given the chance to continue learning and improving their teaching. It is thru professional development that teachers will learn more about using assessment for learning and teaching. I do believe that the effective use of assessment for both learning and teaching depends largely on the teacher. For example, student may not be aware about what an assessment is or what it is for. But the teachers need to know about it in order to take full advantage of its benefits. Thru time, when teachers become more purposeful and intentional on using assessment, students will also adapt the practise easily. Therefore, teachers need to undergo continuous learning, making use of the different types of assessment, to improve their teaching and to help their students make use of assessment to monitor their (students) own learning.

EDS113_Module 3 – Alignment

After studying module 3, I learn about the different purposes of assessment. As learner, I can only relate to having undergone assessment OF learning. I did not know about assessment FOR learning and assessment AS learning. As a learner now, I like to take advantage of assessment AS learning to maximize my learning experience. And Later on, given the chance to teach again, I will commit to using assessment FOR learning to help my student achieve their learning potentials and to improve my teaching too.  So, there are three purposes of assessment in education. These are (1) assessment FOR learning; (2) assessment AS learning; and (3) assessment OF learning.

The importance of Alignment was also emphasized in this module. It says that assessment must be aligned with learning objective, and that the result of measurement is use to select appropriate instructional strategies.  Hence, a well-aligned assessment matches the learning objective with the instructional strategy; whereas a poorly aligned assessment undermines both learning and teaching.

I remember one of my subjects in college. We have this instructor who handed out course syllabus on the first day of class. His only condition was that we take all exams on schedule. No need for a lecture, no need for an attendance. We were left to learn on our own. The only assessment result that I got from his class was my passing grade. I do not know if his style of ‘teaching’ has challenged us students to work diligently on our own, but had he at least gave us feedback after every examination, I think it would have been better. So in this case, there was no formative assessment done, only summative and that was having a passing grade. I think as a student, I was deprived of a good learning environment.

I also recall my teaching experience with preschool. I followed our lesson plan and try to communicate the learning objectives to my pupils. I was not aware of this assessment of learning but I think I did it while I was observing and giving feedbacks to my student every time we do seat works.  However, it was just so overwhelming for me to do individual monitoring that I usually run out of time. Sometimes, instead of giving a descriptive feedback, I just resorted to letting them accomplish their seat works or activities for the sake of compliance and not for their learning progress. Looking back, I realized that I lacked the necessary skills to plan and integrate assessment into my instruction. It would have been more effective had I plan in advance and had I purposely and intentionally align my assessment to the learning goals and the necessary instructional strategy. Having shared my experiences, I recommend that educators should regularly undergo training and workshop to hone their assessment skills.