一生的修為

最近兩次的tryout teaching, 雖然不算差勁,但也達不到期望中的效果; 但我覺得這反而是專業進步的契機,因它帶出了其他要考慮的因素,令將來再作嘗試時計劃得更週詳。 反而一堂課順順利利,看上去精彩,我們便傾向不再多想。

一堂課,除了學理上的設計,還要考慮學生的已有知識、學習風格、同學之間的關係、學校的文化,什至是這陣子學生的心情,這節課是什麼時間進行……,還有教師的臨場應變能力。教學,绝對是專業; 教學效能,絕對是一生的修為。

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Perfect lessons may not be the best stimulus for professional learning

The tryout lesson yesterday was far from perfect, but it was a useful professional development experience for me. I have been exploring ways to use technology to enhance the development of students’ higher–order reading skills. In yesterday’s lesson, I tried out a couple of e-learning tools and higher-order reading tasks, for the first time. The lesson revealed a few things I had not anticipated well enough, such as trying to cover too many activities in one lesson; not leaving enough time to guide students to reflect on a task after it was finished; not being prepared enough for technical hiccups, …
But these are useful reminders for future explorations.

(The methodology literature usually suggests using teacher-led questioning, or teacher’s think-aloud demonstrations, to develop students’ higher-order reading skills. Another common practice is to include higher-order items in the reading comprehension exercises. My observation is that less assertive/motivated students may not benefit much from such activities. This is an area where I believe technology might help, and that is what I’m exploring.)

民間自發的教學改革

(Written on May 7)

昨晚在臉書上分別看到澳門教師自發為配合課改而進行的工作坊,和台灣翻轉教學大師張輝誠老師在彰化舉行的學思達專業分享活動,都很有感動; 作為教師,他們要做好份內工作已很不容易,而犧牲自己大量的時間,目的只希望幫助同工提高教學水平,使行業更專業,讓其他教師更能找到教學的意義和樂趣,這無私的精神真令人敬佩。

我愈來愈相信,由上而下的教學改革,無論這上是政府、辦學團體,或學校高層,所能製造出的效果只會有限;但是只要看看學思達在台灣發展之快,所引發出教師的投入和活力,便可以看到民間自發的教學改革的威力。

政府教育部門在這環節上可以做的,就是提供資源上的支援,並肯定和鼓勵這些活動的策劃人和參加者。香港目前有一班很有心的 FlippEducators 老師,推動翻轉教學,希望這樣的組織和活動能遍地開花,使我們的課室更有生氣,學生更喜歡上學,我們的行業更專業。

What is the biggest gain from a professional development event?

Why is professional development so important for educators, when most of them are terribly stressed out already?

A former student attended a sharing gathering of innovative e-learning educators last night. She reflected on the experience: ”

“… The more intelligent people you meet, the more you realise you know so little. The world is so big and I am so little. You know what you really like when you step into a room with your exhausted body and mind and you leave being energised!”

Teaching can be a lifelong career. How can we keep up our passion and enthusiasm for years? Very often, when we go to a professional development event, it’s not like there is an easy classroom teaching recipe or magical formula that we can pick up and then apply in our classroom the next day. The biggest gain may be seeing other passionate educators (the speakers, and fellow teachers) and being inspired by them.

I still remember attending the talk on peer coaching by Harvard physics professor Eric Mazur 3 years ago, surrounded by hundreds of other energetic university teachers, and how I was amazed that a physics professor could also be so zealous about teaching. So, that’s why I also go to professional development events, as a learner. And here is one on Flipped Classroom I would go to next Saturday, and which I would recommend to people.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfYhGNCxwV3g9SctUGss9snyGPlVCqAhVW0ZpTkFcZzqdbI0Q/viewform

Learning all the time

A student in last year’s group, who had worked in another profession for a couple of years, reflects on her first month of teaching: “… Teaching is a profession that gives me lots of chances to learn new things!” She has just learnt how to make a submarine and a catapult from a STEM workshop.

In fact, it’s not just first-year teachers who have a lot to learn. Teaching is so multi-faceted that even veteran teachers cannot claim to know everything. It’s a matter of professional attitude. Continuing professional development not only prevents teachers from falling behind, it also prevents them from stagnating. It helps to keep up their enthusiasm in their work.

In the last two weeks, I attended two workshops offered by Apple on how to use MacOS applications. (I bought a Macbook recently.) I was the oldest guy in the classroom; but it was so much fun.

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Being buried in busy-ness

The workshop by CLEAR will start in 30 minutes. But 15 minutes ago, I decided I would stay in my office to work on my to-do list.

I’ve often preached to teachers about the importance of continuing professional development, and as far as possible I have tried to practise what I preach, by taking part in events that will help enrich my professional repertoire. This upcoming event by CLEAR (the teaching development unit at CUHK) fits into my professional interests, and I’d been reminding myself in the last few days about this workshop, hoping that I would eventually find the time to attend it. But 15 minutes ago, I had to give it up, because there were still so many urgent things I hadn’t finished.

This reminds me of the plight of teachers. I’m sure many teachers are keen about professional development, but in comparison, the other one and thousand one things that they have to do on a daily basis, like marking students’ homework, setting test and exam papers, contacting parents, and planning and organising co-curricular activities, are much more ‘urgent’. As a result, professional development is relegated to a low-priority item.

This is not a desirable situation. But unless all of us involved in education, school administrators, teachers, parents, government education officials, re-establish our priorities, we will only be buried deeper in unreflective busy-ness.