EDS 111 | Final Paper

I consider teaching a noble profession and teachers as unsung heroes. Like doctors and pilots, these people are entrusted with a very sensitive responsibility. Although not in matters of saving or keeping people safe from harm but their job is as vital for human survival. The job of keeping students away from ignorance, preparing them to become the person they’re supposed to be, molding them to become independent persons who can fend for themselves, able to make rational decisions based on knowledge and critical thinking abilities, who can pursue careers and become a functioning member of the society, command a higher regard for the teaching profession. However, as important as it is, the teaching job takes less regard compared to other professions. If I hadn’t taken this subject I wouldn’t understand why it is so. Having been taught the traditional way, I used to think of teaching as simply imparting knowledge to students, marking quizzes and exams, and giving grades. I realized it takes more than content-pedagogical knowledge to be a teacher—an effective one to be exact.

Teachers in my place are respected career people, they are considered professionals. They enjoy being addressed as “ma’am or sir” even outside of school, which according to my foreigner friend, sounds heavy and too formal. Although they’re placed with a relatively high level of respect, they still lack the same regard as that for doctors and lawyers in our place. Little did I know that calling the teaching job a profession has been a subject of debate. And for sure despite the changes in educational practices in the 21st century, there are still who would argue about the nuances of teaching as a profession especially those who hold the traditional perspectives of what characterize professional jobs are. I used to take the idea for granted on whether it’s a profession or not because I haven’t heard someone questioned such, not until I studied the course; but in case this argument is brought on my table I can give them a valid argument. That’s one of what I learned from this course. Regarding the teaching job with high respect can challenge teachers and teacher trainees to perform their best. To me it is important. This is why I appreciate the inclusion of teacher professionalism as a topic of discussion in this course. It’s an eye opener for everybody who wishes to become a teacher, including myself and including those who are already in the service. Through this we cannot take the teaching job for granted.

My perceptions about what teaching had been reshaped from merely providing the information to facilitating learning. Although everything that’s been discussed is equally important, I would say that this is the major idea that I’ve gained from this course. I came to make sense why it’s important to allow students to engage in their learning than making the classroom one dimensional where the teacher is the sole provider and the most active person in the classroom. Through engaging with the lessons students can process the information better than when it’s merely fed on them. Apparently this is what i’ve experienced upon taking distance education. At first I find the process inconvenient and kind of frustrating because I expect less material reading and more explanation from my professors about what i’m learning like how i’m used to, but distance education is impossible if I am just a passive learner. And came with the inconvenience that I experienced are learnings that will surely stick with me for a long time. It’s the beauty of non-spoonfed learning. I’ve also realized that this is what the students of the 21st century need—a more dynamic classroom practices where they can contribute to their own learning, which can keep them interested.. Another concept that I find noteworthy is the practice of reflection on teaching experiences. The famous line that says experience is the best teacher is only true of its reflected upon; otherwise experience alone cannot change future actions. I think that come with reflective practice is the ability of teachers to develop the sense of responsibility and will to make a difference in student’s life because without it, the practice of teaching becomes an obligatory task done automatonlike which will result in a stagnant teaching practices where innovation to improve, enhance, upgrade teaching and learning experiences becomes viewed as laborious and impossible.

Moreover, having learned the importance of knowledge bases can guide me through my teaching practices. My old notion that teaching is just about knowledge in content and how to deliver it has become funny at this point. The more I have learned what teaching really means and what it takes to become a effective one makes teaching more complex of a job. This course truly help me create a different concept about teaching which I’m sure will affect and reflect on my teaching practices in the future.

I can say that effective teaching practices is very essential to truly elevate the quality of education in the country and only reflective teachers who are not content with mediocre knowledge and skills can practice effective teaching. I myself must always strive to become one, therefore my desire to learn should never cease after this course. As i’ve said before, the ultimate goal of education is for students to have meaningfully learned and that is what I should always strive to achieve.

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EDS 103 | Final eJournal

The type of the final exam is just appropriate. It is not constrictive in terms of what should I write relative to the topics covered in this course, it allowed me to express freely some of the concepts that I’ve learned. Although there are lots of writing activities to be done to able to finish the course which sometimes can be draining, what I get in return that is being able to thoroughly understand the lesson is also worth it. This testaments that learning through engaging is truly effective. Writing is not my best suit but the beauty of it is that I get to process the information better. Retention is also better. Besides, learning without challenges can result in complacency and sometimes can be less interesting. 😉 

It surprises me sometimes that I have better ideas when I write my thoughts than when I don’t. And having to write what I have learned enables me to introspect if I have really learned. And if it is revealed that I have not fully grasp the concepts, I can go back to learn them further. Writing also enable me to improve my metacognitive ability that I can make sense of questions as WHYs and HOWs in relation to the topics discussed in this course. I may find it difficult to present my ideas in a coherent manner in a way that I would sound to be making sense, still there is no better replacement for better processing of information especially in distance education than writing and conversing with others in the discussions forums. 

Overall, taking this course has been fun and worthwhile and very educative. It truly is a good preparation for my future career as a teacher. I might have half or less than half of the wits of my professors, however, its guaranteed that in the future only the best effort shall be exerted from my side in order to become an effective teacher. Guided by my knowledge on theories of learning, I can direct my pedagogical practices to a more interesting, engaging, meaningful and effective ways that surely my students can benefit from. 

EDS 103 | Module 8: Epistemology

Knowing the epistemology of learning help teachers shape their teaching practices according to what they scientifically understand as most effective. The strategies that they employ is based on the grounded knowledge of how students learn or how they learn best. If teachers don’t have any idea how students learn is like firing bullets with no clear target, you just assume that you hit. Teachers must be guided by this knowledge to provide a meaningful and effective teaching. However, teachers must ensure that their knowledge is updated according to the needs of the ever changing learning demands of the students especially in the 21st century; therefore it is important that they continuously renew what they know.

Looking back at my schooling days, I can’t help not to be critical of how my learnings were facilitated. The more I learn about teaching methods the more the shortcomings of my former teachers are revealed to me. It makes me think how much they know how we know—why were we treated as homogenous learners with same capacities and taught the same way as everyone else? Why most of the time we were just there sitting and listening even for topics where we could have discovered for ourselves? Why were we the lessons seems uninteresting? I always feel like I could have learned more had I been taught with better techniques or had their knowledge been exhaustively externalized through their teaching practices.

If teachers truly understand the epistemology of knowing, they won’t settle for being the fountain of knowledge. They would step out of the norms and create a classroom where every student is actively engaging in their learning.

EDS 111 | Module 6: Diversity

Diversity is a common aspect in Philippine schools. Having nineteen different languages spoken across the country clearly demonstrates how varied our culture is. People don’t often live in exclusivity thus allowing cultures to meet in many different settings. As the society is heterogenous, classrooms are also filled with various types of students. Diversity in school is not only about culture and religion, it is also about character, gender, belief systems, family background, economic capacities, and abilities. If teachers fail to acknowledge these differences by not suiting up their practices according to these differences, problems will arise, not only in student’s academic learning but also in their values formation. Upon reading the module I came to fully understand that the differences of students should not be ignored or be taken for granted; I came to understand that it should be given consideration in planning learning materials, in delivering the lessons, or in the practice of teaching in general. Teachers must be creative to come up with an inclusive classroom practices where students of all kinds are able to fully harness the truest purpose of schooling which is to learn.

Being from the Southern Mindanao area, I grew up in a community where cultural and religious differences were prevalent. I am used to the idea of heterogeneity in school settings. As an elementary student back then, one thing that I observed, teachers—as traditional as they were—acted as the sole provider of knowledge who were basically guided by textbooks issued by the state in their pedagogy and treat students as sponges of information. The concept of inclusivity in the classroom and the whole school was not emphasized even in passing. The concept of culture was only introduced in Sibika and Kultura subjects although only major cultures made it to the textbooks; and the rationale behind the need to learn about those people from different cultures were not elaborated. We as students were left out thinking that it was nothing more than an introduction. In our school there was a silent understanding that yes this place has different kinds of students so what, it’s normal. As a result, students couldn’t develop the sense respect for differences. Kids with disability were bullied and eventually drop out of school just like my neighbor, some would just refused to enroll at all because they feel like they’re less of a person given what the culture of bullying shows them; kids from different religion gets subtle discrimination which creates an invisible wall in between, leading for some kids to think that they’re religion is better than the others; kids who were slow in learning were called names worsening their efficacy to learn. Overall this is a result of teachers failure to create a school culture that is inclusive, that values respect for differences.

To address diversity, teachers must have the creativity in their teaching practices. This will allow them to come up with better strategies for effective, inclusive pedagogy. Teachers are central to student learning, may it be academically or values formation. Emphasizing appreciation for differences in the classroom develops the concept of respect for self and for others. If this culture of respect is forged inside school settings, it can be translated outside which can eventually create a safe positive community. 

EDS 111 | Module 5: CPD

The module discussed that school practices can be improved if teachers undertake Continuing Professional Development. The CPD, however, that is commonly undertaken is the one that mainly upgrade the skill and knowledge of individual teachers, such as their knowledge on the content. This kind CPD has leanings on the idea that teachers are the only knowledgeable person in the classroom and students are empty vessels that need to be filled in. Another form of CPD is the one that teachers acquire additional knowledge of top of the existing ones. These types of CPD work under the expectations of a system or has to conform to state agendas, meaning teachers have no liberty to truly learn what they deem is necessary for the overall and lasting improvement of teaching practices which will benefit student learning. CPD to be valuable has to allow renewed and transformative practices and this requires individual reflection and collaboration among teachers who have hands-on knowledge or have understanding on the real scenarios on teaching-learning events. With the common goal to forge effective ways to improve school practices, forming professional learning communities where teachers share ideas, critic one another constructively, support each and are equally held responsible for all the students learning, is also beneficial for teaching-learning.

In my opinion, if teachers have intrapersonal skills and are committed and passionate with their jobs, sky is the limit for them in improving their teaching practices, but I also understand that they need support from the school, from the principal, and from other teachers to be able to reach that high level of improvement in their teaching practices. What I’ve learned from this module is that CPD should not be limited to retooling and remodeling of teachers’ knowledge and skills. Although I deem that it is important as individual skills are important, teachers need to have that overall capacities that will allow them to affect and transform practices of teaching in their respective schools and equitably elevate all students learnings. I have not been to any CPD activities but I think what is commonly emphasized in there is improving individual knowledge in content and skills which might not all that 21st century demands for learning actually needs. I have not heard nor observed (from the teachers I know) that there were collaborative activities that allow for collective efforts to effectively address the issues in the contemporary education. During the onset of K-12 implementation, teachers are sent to various retooling/remodeling seminars but there was no mention of innovative collaboration to further support the program. In the 21st century, I believe that CPD should foster collaboration among teachers, principals, students, schools, in order to achieve a meaningful, lasting results in school practices and student learning.

Student learning is the main goal why schools exist. It is therefore important that teachers being facilitators of learning have all the ammunitions of being an effective and valuable teacher, not only cognitive and practical skills but also motivation, commitment, and honest concern for student learnings.

EDS 103 | Module 7: HOTS

Remember that time as a kid when you would compete with other kids in spelling English words and you get rewarded with candy or any goodies if you win regardless if you understood the word or not? If you haven’t experienced that, I did. Remember also that time when you’re in high school and your teacher would give you pointers on what to come out in the exam? Of course you are confident that more of those itemized facts and definitions in your notebook will surely come out in the exam so all you had to was memorize them. Comes the exam, voila — enumeration, identification, definition, multiple choice— you almost got everything right, only that your memory messed up with you and you missed some answers. If you haven’t experienced that, I did. Remember also when your teacher would call your name during recitation to recite the definition of a physics word that you have no clear idea how it actually works but you memorize and recite it anyway because it’s graded? Well, these are just few of those experiences in my elementary and high school where learning through memorizing was given more attention.

I have never developed well my higher-order thinking skills in my basic education. Lower-order thinking has been dominating assessments and instruction back in the day (at least in my experience). There was no much question like WHYs or HOWs. This is not to discredit my teachers however because to be fair they have managed to include at least one essay question in exams. What i’m saying is that there were more WHATs in the process; HOT was not very much emphasized. When I got to college, things were different. Assessments and instruction were more sensible/purposeful and rigid I may say. That time I felt the disparity of my scholastic experience with that of my witty classmates. It had me thinking that I’m disadvantaged. My confidence about learning was waning upon realizing that I’m not very much equipped for college education. It had me thinking, what were taught in big public school and private schools that were not taught in ours? It had me feeling like I’m one of those girls in my high school who intentionally sits in the back row to avoid eye contact with the teacher for fear of getting called upon to answer questions. There was a culture shock as to how learning processes were done. It was more challenging in terms of my ability to learn without being reliant on memorizing.  I remember my Political Science subject, my professor was always on his toes in his teaching and he expects the same from us. Being trained to memorize, I would focus on the italicized and bold words in a paragraph and memorize their definition as I prepare myself whenever my professor would call me for surprise recitation (which he randomly does) without really understating the whole meaning or the whole concept. But that’s no what he wanted. He wanted us to understand the big picture. He wanted us to dissect every possible concepts that we can find in the paragraph. It has allowed me to develop my thinking skills to be able keep up with college. Besides, my high school didn’t prepare me mentally for college. There was no orientation whatsoever how college looks like. This added to my struggle as a freshman.

Developing higher-order thinking in learner prepares them to become creative individuals who are not afraid to take on the challenge of problematic situations and complicated scenarios. Their decision making in academics and in life are grounded on sound rational thinking because they are trained to think thoroughly. It is therefore important for teachers to develop HOTS in the learners especially in the 21st century where life in general has become more challenging and change is going in fast pace.

EDS 103 | Module 6: Constructivism

Constructivist learning is resonates with the idea that learning is an unending process. Everyday we interact with people, we watch news, we read articles on social media, we discover new things—all these bring new information which we then try to assimilate or accommodate to the information that we possess so it becomes part of us, it reshapes our existing beliefs, until the new ones arrive and the cycle goes on and on. Therefore we are learning every day.

And If we look closely how much we use out of what we learned in college from what we learn in a normal everyday life, (unless we are able to apply most of our college learning in the profession that we practice) you would see that we use less of the former and most of the latter. There are just too many to learn outside of school that contributes to how we shape our schemas. More often these experiences are mostly what we can easily remember than how to solve an algebraic expression, or the scientific names of plants. Learning something that don’t make sense to us or we cannot relate to easily evaporates. This is why when teaching it is important that teachers relate lessons to real life scenarios so students will make sense of what they are learning; retention is also better since students have real life examples that they can refer to. My economics professor in college would always try to make realistic examples to allow us to absorb the concepts more effectively. It truly helps.

Students are more likely to remember the lesson if it’s done through meaningful ways. I remember in first year high school, I always get excited if it’s time for science because our teacher would let us have real experience of what we are learning; we go out of the room to look for examples, discover, do experiments, do actual test of our hypotheses, arrive at conclusions. We have fun doing it while at the same time we are learning. Engaging with the lesson enriches understanding and improves retention. It doesn’t only allow for better learning it also keeps them interested in the lesson.

Sometimes the best learning happens outside of the classroom, and the best teacher is experience.