As a teacher, every day I face the challenge of being able to contribute to my students’ learning, and it is not only to face up to the challenge, but to actually win it.
For the past six years of teaching, seeing the development of students has been gradual at times. I’ve been impatient and insecure of my skills due to the unclear results of my labour. However, at the stretch of my teaching, I see my students bloom with the skills I’ve wanted to impart, and I stay a bit longer in the field of teaching, wanting more of that leap of heart for the pride of being able to contribute to an individual’s life. When I realized it, it has been six years since I’ve started chasing eureka moments that signals an achievement, or possibly a milestone in my student’s journey in learning.
As most of my teaching experience had been online, I’ve been used to the linear approach of my company’s: online, my students as adults, and the instruction mainly by voice. The medium of instruction created limitations as we relied heavily on materials given by the company and routines in of executing the classes. Nonetheless, the online platform gave me freedom to use the internet as my “sidekick” to seek answers whenever I didn’t know the answer to my student’s question. Given five years of experience on the same line of work, I can confidently do the job without much preparation and suspense, although not ideal of good teacher practice.
On the other hand, with my job now as an enrichment teacher, which is one-on-one, I am suddenly faced with a high demand of preparation and on-the-spot queries just about anything from my curious youngsters. Though I’ve had the experience of tutoring one-on-one, having kids as students is quite a tall order considering their mental and emotional development is a grey area to my theoretical understanding, though I’m managing somehow with practical experience from my nephews and nieces.
Ever since, I can never start my classes without a thorough evaluation of of the topic to teach, research on the effectiveness of my intended methods and materials, and consideration whether set plans fit the student’s age, learning style and ability. If am able to comply with these things (sometimes I cannot due to time constraints), then my class is smooth sailing. It makes me feel very proud of myself when I am able to execute my lesson properly as one, I’m able to sharpen my skills at best, at the same time, my preparedness for the lesson content, knowledge of it, and the skills that compliments it benefits the students most.
With this, I agree with what Shulman (1987) wrote about the importance of knowledge content pedagogy:
“…the key to distinguishing the knowledge base of teaching lies at the intersection of content and pedagogy, in the capacity of a teacher to transform the content knowledge he or she possesses into forms that are pedagogically powerful and yet adaptive to the variations in ability and background presented by the students.”
Indeed, I’ve encountered professors in my university days that seemed to have eaten books about their field of expertise, but their style of pedagogy did not connect to my style of learning. Despite the array of acknowledgment of a teacher’s contribution in his/her field, his/her teaching could have been improved to connect more to the students’ learning.
In my field now, I also know of a teacher whom I can evaluate has a potential to be a great teacher because of her natural ability to connect with the students’ socio-emotional needs, as well as fit the lessons to their mental development, however, her lack of deeper and wider theoretical and practical knowledge hinders her from moving further in the field.
Fortunately, I’ve had the honor of being under great teachers whom were able to translate their comprehension of a topic/subject effectively which helped in the reconstructing of a new understanding of my world. I believe, they are teachers whom are “able to define, describe and reproduce good teaching.” (Shulman, 1987)
Through the readings this week, I hope to be able to help my students better in their journey of learning.
Shulman, L. S. (1987). Knowledge and teaching: Foundations of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57(1): 1-21