Teaching Approaches in Literature and Movies

This week, for my Principles of Teaching course, we read about teacher professionalism. Like any other profession that requires a license, the teaching profession is governed by an organization that assures its members abide by a Code of Ethics. However, unlike other established professions like Nursing and Medicine which has full autonomy and characterized by a set of skills, competencies, and knowledge, the teaching profession, I came to understand, is also subject to government control and policing.

This Friday was also the deadline for our first assignment for the course – writing a reaction paper about an education-related article. I decided to write about classroom instruction which is usually divided into two paradigms: teacher-centered and student (or learner)-centered approach. This is what I thought of focusing about this week.

I admit that in the four years that I have been teaching, I have come across these two terms and have wondered what they actually mean or how I can adopt them in my classes. Reading through articles describing the two types of instruction invariably led me to two analogies.

If you are a fan of J. K. Rowling, you have probably heard about Professor Binns. Somehow, the term “teacher-centered” calls to mind an image of this History of Magic professor in the Harry Potter series. In the books, he is described as a ghost who conducted his classes with such lassitude. Professor Binns would go droning on and on about his subject, mindless of whether students are still listening or daydreaming. Once, when he was asked a question, he had seemed surprised at the intrusion, and was only too eager to go back to his lecture. This gives a picture of teacher-centered instruction at its most extreme where the instructor talks and students are expected to listen.

On the other end is student-centered instruction that encourages more active participation on the part of its students. It brings to mind lessons peppered with activities that stimulate student curiosity and learning by discovery. This approach makes me think about Kung Fu Panda and how Po discovered his abilities through the different tasks given to him by Master Shifu during his kung fu training.

It also brought to mind learning theories that I have learned about in my past courses (Constructivist, Behaviorist, and Social Learning theories, to name a few). The article I read for the assignment, Teacher-Centered, Learner-Centered or All of the Above (Weimer, 2013), suggested a combination of the two paradigms.

I believe that teaching has always been a combination of the two, though in varying degrees, depending on the topic to be discussed. I have come to realize that in my own lessons though, I am confined to a teacher-centered approach, despite my attempts to make my classroom encounters as student-centered as possible. One culprit I have come to identify for this imbalance in my teaching approach is the time. Often, the need to cover content for a given specific period ends up with me doing lectures most of the time.

However, reading through Weimer also assured me that teacher-centered activities are best-suited for mastery of basic skills (Weimer, 2013) which is important for my Grades 7 and 8 students. It is my approach in the higher grades that I need to reassess and revise if I am to help them develop critical and higher-order thinking skills.

Reference:

Weimer, Maryellen (2013). Faculty Focus Teaching Professor Blog: Teacher-Centered, Learner-Centered or All of the Above. Retrieved 22 September 2015, from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-professor-blog/teacher-centered-learner-centered-or-all-of-the-above/

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Styles and Perspectives

Online classes have started. As a preliminary activity for the first module, we were asked by our instructor to take two short tests in order for us to find out what our teaching perspectives and styles are.

As a teacher, I want my students to have as much enthusiasm for my subject as I do. Whenever I find that kids have a hard time understanding lessons, I take the time to revise my plans and have a lot of activities that will help tem master the concepts and skills they need. This is because I want them to be well-equipped and prepared for when they step out of high school and go out into the world.

I also model work attitudes and remind them about being passionate with whatever they do. I sometimes use personal examples to help students relate better with what I am trying to teach and to help them understand better. I also draw from their own experiences and realities in order for them to be able to make sense of topics and concepts.

According to the Teacher Perspective Inventory, I have a dominantly Apprenticeship perspective which is why I try my best to come up with authentic tasks set in real-life situations. My nurturing perspective influences how I relate to my students and my developmental perspective fuels my desire to see them become skilled and competent.

Ideologies often influence how we see the world. In this case, my perspectives in teaching inspire my teaching styles in the classroom. It is important for us to take a step back from time to time and assess how we our performing and how well our audience – that is, our students – are learning.

As a Science teacher, I encourage my students to think outside the box to find new and better ways in doing things and solving problems. In my classes, I get a mix of students with different learning abilities, intelligences, styles, and needs. Being open to other perspectives and teaching styles is important if I am to address my students’ needs as effectively as I can.

You can take the Teacher Perspective Inventory (TPI) here and Grasha-Reichmann’s Teaching Style Survey here.

 

Looking to the Finish Line

I have been an online student for about 2 years now. It has not been an easy journey as asynchronous discussions have their own pros and cons. This added to the fact that I am also working full-time has proven both challenging and satisfying.

Thankfully (and hopefully), this is the last pit stop towards getting my eligibility to take the Licensure Exams. For the next three months, I will be writing reflections for this, my last course for my Professional Teaching Certificate course, EDS 111 (Principles of Teaching).

The introductory module for the course had us take a few online tests to help us become more aware of our study habits. I am quite proud to say that my test results have indicated that I have good time management skills, am self-regulated, and good study habits. What I think I need though are stress management skills. J

This school year will prove to be challenging as we fully implement the K-12 program in our school. Aside from this, I will be undergoing therapy for a herniated disk in my spinal column. This means I will have to manage my time better as I juggle work, online class, and therapy sessions for the next three months. But this, I pledge, that I will do my best and give my best to make this pit stop the best.