The Need to Understand

“To teach is first to understand.” – L. Shulman (1987)

About a couple of months ago, I, together with other Science teachers in my department, were invited to a half-day training by PASCO Scientific (a company that offers software and hardware geared for the instruction of science). The school where I worked had just acquired additional software and hardware from PASCO and the technicians came over to help us familiarize ourselves with their use.

I remember how my coordinator told me that we will get to “play with our new toys” – she was so excited about how these new gadgets can help our students have a better appreciation of science.

During the training, I was surprised at the existing PASCO gadgets we had. I was unaware that we had those “toys”! For a while there, I thought about the times that I could have used them in my classes. However, I was just glad that I finally know that we have those probes and sensors to use in my future classes.

I was excited because we have a new digital microscope that will allow us to project specimens onto a screen. The software bundled with the microscope could even take pictures of the specimens! There were also sensors for gathering different data that will be useful when conducting investigatory projects.

During the demo, I realized that besides having new gadgets, it was also crucial for us to not only understand how to operate them, but also to know where they can best be used. It was a good thing that the software bundle also came with suggested activities that can be modified and adapted in the classroom.

The half-day training spent with PASCO also made me understand all the more how important it was for teachers to understand the content of the subjects they teach. This way, we can plan our lessons and activities better for the benefit of our students. This will also help us choose which tools we can use in the classroom that will help us impart knowledge effectively and that will fit the needs and skills of our students.

This experience brings to mind Mishra and Koehler’s (2006) idea of TPACK (technological pedagogical content knowledge) which basically states that “[q]uality teaching requires developing a nuanced understanding of the complex relationships between technology, content, and pedagogy”. Understanding content and knowing which strategies to employ is the first step towards teaching effectively. Understanding and using which technology works best will further enhance and enrich classroom experience.

 

For more information on PASCO products and services, you may visit http://www.pasco.com/

References:

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9620.2006.00684.x.

Shulman, L.S. (1987). Knowledge and teaching: Foundations of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57, 1-21.

 

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.