教育是一份訓練慈悲心的工作

在舊學生的臉書看見這句說話:「教育是一份訓練慈悲心的工作。」此刻我特別有感受。

昨天就一項校本教學計劃認識了幾位充滿熱誠和專業精神的老師,我們討論計劃內容,臨走時他們告訴我他們頗多學生都是來自基層家庭,領綜緩的也大有人在,SEN 學生更不在話下;他們的一個使命, 就是要幫助這些學生也能跟得上學業。

下午較後時間和另一舊學生見面,她先前教過的學校都是傳統名校,學生大多來自中產家庭,父母給予充足的支持。她最近𨍭職做校本支援,有機會探訪一些學生主要來自基層家庭的學校,發覺這些學校內不少教師為了幫助學生學業,做了很多額外的工作,作了不少犧牲,令她大為感動。

我們當教師的都是教育制度的勝出者,我們也許也來自基層以上的階層,如果教的學生家境淸貧,乏人照顧,我們以什麼心態看待他們?覺得他們不值得自己的努力,他們只好自生自滅?還是以慈悲之心,盡其在我,幫助他們成材?

These connections are possible, because we are teachers

Yesterday morning while I was presenting certificates and awards to the graduating students at Bishop Ford Memorial School on the stage, Miss Winnie was watching intently from among the audience. She had been their teacher and was content to see her students reach this milestone of their education.

About 2 months ago on April 29, I attended Miss Winnie’s wedding at Chung Chi Chapel on CUHK campus. I had been Miss Winnie’s PGDE teacher, and was content to see her reach this milestone of her life.

Back in 2003, one day while I was thumbing through the timetables of the teachers on the PGDE programme, in preparation for the upcoming Teaching Practice visits, I saw that Miss Winnie was a teacher at Bishop Ford Memorial School, the school that I went to as a primary kid.

The next week, when I saw Miss Winnie in class, I said proudly to her, “Winnie, did you know that I went to Bishop Ford Memorial School as a student many years ago?”

Miss Winnie replied, even more proudly, “Paul, did you know that I also went to this school as a student some years ago?”

All these miraculous connections are made possible, because we are teachers.

 

Character and passion for teaching

Yesterday, I met up for lunch with a former education student, Jenny. Jenny was as exuberant as ever. When I asked her how she managed to keep up her passion for teaching after all these years, she replied, without a moment of thought, “As long as it is something that students will benefit from, I will totally pour myself into it.”

Jenny has taught for some years already, but she is even more zesty than a first-year teacher. She has inexhaustible energy for her work. She possesses a wide array of professional competencies, and has taken on a variety of curriculum leadership roles, but she will jump at the first opportunity to try something new. On top of serving her own school, she is now part of a Hong Kong University’s project providing school-based support for teachers teaching non-Chinese-speaking students.

When I probed further and asked her what gave her all that drive, she attributed it to her own character. I was not totally content with this answer, which is a purely innate quality. I wanted to look for some generalisable factors that can be applied in other work contexts and across people whatever their character. So I pushed Jenny to think harder. At last, Jenny came up with this example. If after going through some school-based planning with teachers, she sees that the teaching design works well in the classroom so that the students learn happily and effectively, this will give her a great sense of satisfaction.

This indirectly supports the current view of many writers on motivation who highlight 3 external factors that give people drive: autonomy (having the space to decide on how to go about one’s work); mastery (the possibility to get better and better at what one is doing); and purpose (being able to see the meaning of one’s work). For me, Jenny’s example is saying that if on top of these factors, you also have the right character – that will give you the lifelong passion.

Active vs Passive vs Ergative

Looks like it’s becoming a trend to use verbs ergatively:

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Facebook: ‘This message failed to send.’ (vs ‘We failed to send your message.)
Amazon: ‘Your order has shipped.’ (vs ‘Your order has been shipped.’)

Windows: ‘Your application is installing.” (vs ‘Your application is now being installed.)

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ESL teachers will have an increasingly hard time explaining the use of the Passive Voice.

Learning from e-learning students

They say we teachers can sometimes learn from our students.In the case of e-learning, there is no doubt about it. This is because technology is developing so fast that there are bound to be apps or e-learning strategies which have escaped the teacher’s attention.

Earlier on, I learnt about Trello.com from an undergraduate student who was taking my CALL course. It’s an information and communication board for teams working together on a project. On each board are lists, which contain cards. I will spare you the details, but I’m using it as a very versatile to-do list, to juggle and prioritise and reprioritise the dozens of things (one thing on each card) I have to do every day and in the medium term.

Then, the other day, while marking the undergraduate students’ term papers, I came across an app, http://realtimeboard.com, which I immediately fell in love with. It’s like Padlet, which can be used for brainstorming, and displaying things, but it can also be used for team collaborations, and its many visual effects immediately outshine the dull-looking shared Google documents and folders. It’s so cool that I’m already exploring ways to use it in my own work, and also in teaching. ….

So, we e-learning teachers need to be humble – there are always apps, tricks, techniques that some students may know better than we do.