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.)

Teaching can be enjoyable

A most uplifting Friday morning as I observed an exemplary lesson which made superb use of group work for conducting reading comprehension tasks. This magnificent outcome didn’t just happen by chance. It was the result of sufficient prior group work training for the students, and ingenious planning of the group activities. The students were deeply engaged throughout, learning effectively and joyfully.

Two thoughts came to mind after the lesson. First, for teachers who are able to bring about meaningful learning, teaching is a truly professional job, because they need specialist knowledge and skills, creativity, and judgment. Second, if you’re able to pull off great lessons in the classroom and see that your students are learning eagerly and happily, teaching is one of the most enjoyable activities in the world.

 

About time to stop ‘teaching’ and start students learning

A teacher shared with me how she used a language awareness approach in guiding her students to learn the regular vs irregular forms of past tense verbs, instead of telling and explaining the rules to the students. I have been advocating this approach for years as (a) this engages students on a deeper level, and (b) this, in the long run, nurtures students as self-directed learners.

But this approach requires that teachers adopt a different role in the classroom. They have to reduce their role as an authority or the source of knowledge, and instead take on the role of a mentor, motivator, supporter, organiser, etc. for students’ learning. Honestly, not every teacher is comfortable with that change of identity.

In the era of information technology, if we simply wish to know the rules for forming past tense verbs, we can find the answer from the Internet in no more than 2 minutes. Gone are the days when teachers are simply providers of knowledge. Teaching needs to take on a different meaning in the 21st century.

當出色的學生遇上沉悶的教師

英華小學林浣心校長說:「當我還是學生時,已感到課堂很沉悶。這種強烈的感覺,使我成為老師後,一直思考如何能夠引起孩子的學習動機。」

無獨有偶,台灣翻轉教學大師張輝誠小時候老師只會填鴨,不鼓勵思考,不准許發言。多年後他成為老師,發展出台灣版的翻轉教學:「學思達」,思就是思考,達就是表達。

How best should teachers be spending their time?

A former student shared her frustrations about the endless repetitive non-teaching chores that she has to deal with . Although this could be a start-of-school-year flurry, it begs an important question: How best should our teachers be spending their time?
 
Of course, in every fulltime job, there will be a monontonous and repetitive aspect which nonetheless has to be attended to. But if this eats too deeply into staff’s time for productive and meaningful work, they will be disillusioned, and in the long run, their work passion will be eroded.
 
We all acknowledge that teaching is a profession that requires work passion. But are we paying enough attention to how to design the work of teaching and how to prioritize teachers’ work duties so that teachers can see the purpose of what they are doing? A teacher’s duty list can keep expanding indefinitely. But how best should teachers be spending their time?

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.