Friday, November 17, 2017

Random thoughts: Replying Myself

I wrote a post earlier, 6 months later, and being the last day of school, I read the "letter" again. How have I fare?

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1) Shift your department teachers' mindset away from teaching to the test and examination. Deep learning or meta-cognitive learning have higher retention rate, it should not affect the results adversely too much. How many teachers have you convinced with your words, deeds and values? Or have you yourself thrown in the towel?

I have not throw in the towel, although at times, I do struggle about drilling for more marks or teaching pupils how to learn. I think I did well with my low progress kids. This is the first time in my teaching career I receive unsolicited notes of thanks at the end of year and not teacher's day. 

How many teachers? Hmm, maybe 1? But if I struggle, I think she is lost.  


2) With the focus away from examinations and KPIs, you hope to see education as pupils actively pursuing knowledge and in whatever capacity, applying that knowledge. You have said that the following words stick in your head, let me remind you in case you forgotten. "The world economy no longer pays you for what you knows; Google knows everything...The world economy pays you for what you do with what you know." With the zero-sum pursuit of mindless competition of who produces more A pupils a National Trend, have you hold steadfast to your belief? Do you remember going to your MLS friend's school to teach for a trial lesson? They wear different uniforms from your pupils. With the bell curve effect, they doing well in PSLE mean the bell curve work against your own pupils. (Don't give me the shit that the new PSLE is standard referenced. It is just a static preset bell curve.) But you love them nonetheless, you think they are cute. You felt proud that Singapore provide good and decent education to pupils in the neighborhood. You suddenly felt that it is really meaningless and perhaps shallow to be upset about being "below National Average". Why should I be happy? The "national average" does not fluctuate that greatly, why should I derives so much happiness or sadness in beating fellow Singapore's Children? 

Surprising, I remembered that lesson and still talk about it. I have move even further away from ranking, and caught myself competing with my colleagues in terms of results produced. I decided to mindfully remind myself not to do it. They can do better than me, I should be happy and thankful of a strong team.

3) You wanted to prepare the pupils not just for the examinations, but also the future. You believe that joy in learning, is perhaps one of the ingredient for effective learning, and that pupils must be self-regulated learners. You realize that preparing pupils for examinations and the future in that sense, need not really be a zero-sum game, as the two are not mutually exclusive.

I did taught them how to be self-regulated learners. I do think pupils pick up some skills from me, but I think I am far from igniting joy in learning. I have however, think deeper about "joy" in learning. Joy, beside fun, is about self-discovery. I am going to move further in that direction.


4) Joy of learning is not about having fun doing activities, it is about making sure every pupils can progress and achieve. You seek to do this with Differentiation Instructions (DI). You have in the past, pursuit only the form and not the substance of DI. You have a better understanding of the whole DI approach by Tomlinson , you understand what it means and possibly how to differentiate the process/ content or product according to pupils readiness or if possible, also take into considerations pupils' interest and profile. You are no expert in this, but with Formative Assessment (FA) and DI in your mind when you did the 2 trial lessons in 2 different schools the last 2 days (6-7th April ), you genuinely felt different. I think I will cut you some slack for not able to prepare lessons as thoroughly as when you are on course. But, did you stop observing pupils' readiness? Have you stop asking yourself how to present your information more clearly and preparing for multiple content sources and process to cater for pupils who cannot follow your intended lesson? If you have been doing this at least once a week, I think you are already doing well. You also want to present your true self to your pupils, you realize you are generally a fun-loving person, so the humor in class should let pupils feel more at ease. But have you become so tired or pressured about the academic performance of your pupils that you have start reverting to becoming a team commander of soldiers in a war zone?

I did this with flying colors. I am like an ah beng in class, so much so that my pupil kept laughing at my antics to her mum. Lucky she is amused and not offended. However, i did get very firm with my pupils and not everyone appreciate my "true" self. I can see some are shocked more than entertained, and others most probably think I am very "boliao"

I change my way of presentation of information at least 3 times, I didn't track that it work for everyone, it stopped when it worked for some, and I didn't prepare multiple and customized notes for everyone, although I did try to track their proficiency in reading comprehension for my high progress pupils and I think they did improve 

5) Self-regulated learners are learners acutely aware of their own learning. During MLS, you have been reading a lot about how the brain works, about metacognitive strategies, and the easy essence of it are having
1) Compare and Contrast
2) Classification
3) Meaningful Transfer
4) Self-Monitoring
5) Mindful selection process
6) Gap filling either individual or in group

1) Done, through error detection exercises, not effective
2) Classification of difficult words, if it is considered as classification, yes
3) Done, from model answers to adapted answers, yes, from adapted answers to internalized understanding, nope
4) I did that after their exam, didn't observe impact
5) Yes, in composition, Oral, Vocab, presented in comic form, given pupils more options
6) Yes, useless

You have worked hard to try to figure out how everything can be applied from reading comprehension stage to speaking and writing. Did you continue to use these? Have you extend the activities and strategies? How many teachers beside your soulmate/ friend in your department have you gotten excited about all these teaching methods. I can't write the teachers' names here, but MS, SC, JAN, NF, YZ and SY are potential champions you have considered, are they really champions now? Have you not even started? Did you keep their interest burning, did you make them turn around and help you keep your own passion alive?

Project done, but interest? I do think they see value in the project we are doing, but I hardly think they are excited, because the schedule is too punishing, and their work too hectic. I am just glad I am still alive

6) You want to streamline working processes such that you can reduce at least 5% of teachers' workload. You had wanted more flexibility in weekly PDT, you wanted technology to help in discussion and some marking. You wanted to scale down some programmes. You understand a burnt-out teachers cannot really inspire pupils. This is one area that you felt is toughest to do, if you have actually found a path, you do yourself proud. One area you are looking at is purposeful reflections, as diagnostic data collection means and stimulus for discussion. Have you done anything about it. How did it fare?

Done, but felt it is a paper exercise. flexibility is given to teachers, but many are still burnt and tired. I have not read all their reflections, so maybe this part need to KIV

7) You have wanted a more systematic approach to integration of various learning objectives across levels with strong build-up of differentiated resources. One key success factor shared selflessly by your HOD friend about active selection of topic to drill in the final year is not a short cut, but a meticulous and calculated move(3 years prior to ensure maximum exposure and repetition), much like company prospecting in investing. Have you embarked on this journey? 

Kind of tried to do it for reading comprehension, did not turn out the way I envisioned, but there is some data and information to use

8) You have wanted the professional learning project to be of more rigor. You have bought books for teachers to engage in literature review, and the use of lesson study lesson plan template for discussion and planning. You wanted more informed and well-planned initiatives. How has those plans work out for you?

Na... 

9) You wanted to continue with the NIE library membership and spend at least 2 days in a year visiting the NIE to borrow some books to read.

Intend to

10) Finally, something less tangible. You said "Human First, then teacher, then a HOD to bring everyone along" How does this sound to you now?
Think I still believe it. 

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Seem like I didn't do too badly, but what have I done for my department...

LOL... I live by the day, perhaps its beyond my capacity. 

I do enjoy my lessons and teaching better, like my pupils, even if the feelings are not mutual. 

2018, lets hope the letter do not get lost or worse, forgotten

8 comments:

  1. Sillyinvestor,

    Now that's what I call a reveiw!

    Most people don't do enough of these grey grey qualitative personal reflections... Too brain-washed to only focus on black and white quantitative goals (set by others)...


    Just one feedback.

    Don't italic BOTH questions and answers.

    Italic one will do. Especially the answer ;)

    Or bold one of them.

    Makes for easier reading ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi SMOL,

    Haha thanks. I actually thought I already did what u said. But my eye must be too tired

    Have a good weekend

    ReplyDelete
  3. Reading this post motivates me. Can see that you are clear of what you want to achieve, at least you are on the track. Hmmm, you are right, I am lost. The more I teach, the more I am lost. Sometimes feel like giving up or maybe its time to give myself a break, rather than pushing myself too hard.
    KW

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It’s time to recharge. KW

      U have taken too much ... anyway, your progression is kind of “locked in” so I think it’s time to stop cheonging and consolidate ...

      Delete
  4. Hi Sillyinvestor,

    It's really nice to hear that you're on track and not deviating from your intended route! It would be really great if I had a teacher like you! :)

    Reflecting back to the days as a Primary/Secondary school student. Despite getting grades that are slightly better than average. I do not know why I'm actually studying for apart from the grades I'm going to receive.

    Yes, I'm studying mathematics, why for? I'm studying History, Science, English. But what's all this for? The only thing that is "hammered" into my brain is that obtaining a good result is a must!

    Till today, I finally understand. I'm using Mathematics daily and how impressive is the world with mathematics. Learning from the history. Using science to understand underlying concept behind stuffs and possibly for the future. And definitely a healthy command of language to communicate with different individuals to learn more personally and bringing understanding of all this learning across to the next generation.

    Wait. That's already a lesson.

    Looking forward to half years later for the full version of your letter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sleepydevil,

      Your nick is unique. I must say the pleasure and satisfaction of a good lesson is mutual. I just happy to see kids excited and also super sianz when I knew I lost them.

      The funny thing is: many parents are moving away from marks too. I mean not that I think it’s ok to fail or what, but they actually like their kids to be in classes of humorous and interesting teachers and the their kids had fun learning. Never mind the teacher is not producing the best results.... LOL

      Delete
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