Michael, Oct 12
A desire to teach can be motivated by many factors; compassion, a desire to serve, to share, or to dispense knowledge, as well as to achieve status, power over others, a safe job, great holidays or good pay. All the reasons in this panoply of factors, may appear to go from positive to negative, however, in my view they are all the antithesis of the way a teacher should be motivated.
When teachers are “doing teaching” with these attitudes, they are attached to the students emotionally, not professionally. Students come to learn what they need to take them forward, not to connect emotionally with the teacher. Any connection that is emotional should come naturally as a consequence of the learning. Creating a learning environment is a teacher’s job; the only job.
In order to illustrate my point, I will share an anecdote from my student teacher internship: My supervisor, a master of cornering students on the truth, asked me, after a week of my teaching a Grade 4/5 class, how I was experiencing the work. I waxed enthusiastic, declaring how amazing it was, and satisfying, that I felt better and had more energy at the end of the day than I did at the beginning! Looking at me carefully he said, “So, you are a parasite?” Shocked and hurt, I replied,”Why did you say that?” He answered me with, Well, you are sucking the energy out of the students aren’t you? As he walked away, the epiphany occurred wherein I understood the message he had been drilling in to us all year: Give the students what they need, not what you want to give them. It’s not about you; it’s about the learning that is occurring.
Have some fun reflecting on that.
How is your learning environment?
How are you attached to the students?
How can you avoid attachment?
Next week – How do you know what the students need?
Michael, Oct 5, 2013
Reflect on this: Are you “TEACHING”, or CREATING a challenging learning opportunity which will take your students WHERE THEY NEED TO GO? Knowing the difference, and choosing the latter will mean becoming a more successful, effective professional.
Soon, I will be discussing Subordination of Teaching to Learning (SUBTLE) a practice that revolutionized my work. Resources inside and outside yourself that will help you will be listed and linked.
Follow this blog for discussion and postings about future events.
MORE THINKING ABOUT CURRICULUM
Various attempts to reform and streamline the education system through Standardized Testing have been around for a long time. Several Initiatives, such as “No Child Left Behind” in the USA and Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) imposed on K-12 teachers in BC appear to be good in theory but, in reality, only pave the road to “hell” in the system with good intentions, as they breed the unhealthy competition among teachers and schools and encourage parents who can afford private tutors to seek better choices for their children.
As for the school where I am teaching, standardized tests have not produced either uniform student levels or better results in their learning. In fact, I think the new system has somewhat lowered the expectations for the students and I have observed that the quality of the students’ preparation has been getting worse and worse over the last 6 months.
The following videos and articles have more points of view.
In the following radio program, American teacher and writer, John Taylor Gatto, talks about the school system in the USA (1991). While the subject here is a little different, his criticism is still poignant:
“Schools and schooling are increasingly irrelevant…Schools don’t really teach anything except … how to obey orders. Schools are designed to be the instruments of scientific management of a mass population. Schools are intended to produce through an application of formulae human beings whose behavior could be predicted and controlled… The only successful people in our national order are independent, self-reliant, confident, and individualistic. Well-schooled people are irrelevant…As human beings they are useless to others and useless to themselves.
John Taylor Gatto: Part 1. On the Differences between Schooling and Education
In the featured video, Sulibreezy (Suli Breaks) seems to feel in a similar way:
Why I Hate School But Love Education||Spoken Word (Suli Breaks)
For yet another point of view, check out this blog: http://hoprea.wordpress.com/some-texts/
by Henrick Oprea, an ESL teacher from Brazil, telling a fascinating parable called “Saber-Tooth Curriculum” on the values of traditional education.
How about you?
- What are your views on the purposes of education?
- How do you see the role of English teachers, and in particular, the role of ESL teachers in preparing our students for their future?
- Do we just provide the training for specific skills or the education for the real world?
- Are we merely ESL instructors or educators who are raising young individuals by socializing them into our culture and helping them to learn to think for themselves?
- How can a Standardized Curriculum reflect the constantly changing demands for the skills and the values of higher order thinking?
Please send in your comments.
THINKING ABOUT CURRICULUM
ILSC has always been known as a highly creative and innovative cohort of teachers who strive to make their classes relevant and student-centered.
However, recently, with the changes in the Corporate Management and the Administration, there have been sweeping changes in several programs, particularly, Academic Preparation, towards formal, top-down managerial style, which focuses on standardized testing and testing in general as nearly the solely way of assessment of students’ work. The Administration has been trying to defend these changes by claiming that the new Assessment Tool provides more consistency for the teachers and ensures more uniformity among the students’ “levels,” especially for the students wishing to transfer to the University Pathway program. Although some teachers agree that, in theory, using one Standardized Test gives them more consistency, the majority believe that, in practice, this way of assessment is irrelevant and causes them to “teach to the test.” This move continues to cause the teachers’ indignation because it stifles their creativity and forbids much of the flexibility with the content and approach for the sake of one test. In the system like this, students are expected to absorb various facts about the language like sponges, and, within a little over three weeks, regurgitate them on one uniform test while demonstrating uniform improvement in their skills, akin robots. The students’ existing needs and abilities, their increasingly varying learning styles, the connections between teachers and students, and any other human factor are completely ignored, while the teachers are still expected to inspire and motivate, to instill the love of the language in the students, and to prepare the students for the real world. What kinds of Standardized Tests await them in the future?
STANDARDIZED VS STUDENT CENTRED CURRICULUM : SURVEY
I have prepared the survey concerning the above issues and have already sent it to eight teachers. Five teachers, mostly from ILSC, have responded with very poignant comments and useful suggestions. Some results are seen in the following screenshots:
Want to participate? You are strongly encouraged!
Click on the link to access the survey:
The new results will be published here.
NEXT: MORE THINKING ABOUT CURRICULUM
WELCOME TO ETEA COMMUNITY
Hi, I am Marina Sokolova, an ESL Teacher from ILSC, the International Language Schools of Canada, Vancouver Branch. I am the Chair of the Professional Development Committee of the Local 1 of ETEA, which has now embraced the whole ETEA. I am passionate about the work we are doing trying to connect the teachers at the ETEA with the ESL profession.
Over the years, we have been advocating for increasing teachers’ participation in the institutionally-sponsored professional development through various channels such as Institutional Membership in BCTEAL and bargaining for the paid release –time for professional development. As a result of our successful efforts, we have been enjoying our entitlement of 10 paid PD- days per year for the whole collective of regular teachers (over 100). However, in spite of the fact that our teachers are dedicated, talented, and inspiring, we feel that it gives us only very few opportunities to support our need for life-long learning and fulfill our mission to be role models for our students. We need more support to continue to grow professionally and personally in a consistent and dignified way. Our PD Committee is working to create opportunities for all of us to be among the primary echelons of our profession and be a valued part of the larger professional community.
In the other sections of the new ETEA website you can see the mission statement of the PD Committee, reports and updates on our activities, updates on the BCTEAL/TESOL events, and references to a multitude of resources for ESL teachers.
This site is designated as a blog for all our teachers and interested parties to discuss hot issues in our profession and at our workplace, to share ideas and resources, including the presentations at BCTEAL conferences, to invite guest speakers and writers to share their expertise, and to help our teachers understand and apply some innovative techniques using technology.
We welcome your contributions and looking forward to connecting with you!