Inspiring, moving blog posts

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One thing in my opinion that makes blog posts effective is when they can make the readers think, shake and doubt about their own belief, and start doing what is proposed in the blogs immediately. That is what I experienced when I read Michael Martin’s post: Becoming a more reflective individual practitioner. Martin has convinced me that with reflection, not only will I become a better teacher, but I will also be able to help my students to become better learners. Martin has given me very practical steps, something that I can call my own, something that belongs to me. Here are the steps that I quote from her blog:

1.        Begin by becoming open to your experiences

2. Keep an eye out for the experiences that lead to the most powerful learning

3. Create the structure for reflection

4. Create the habits of reflection

5. Learn from the Masters

6. Just Do It

The first thing that we should do to become a more reflective practitioner is we have to be aware of our own experiences. Well, not all of our experiences should be reflected, but only the one that stands out, that lead to the most powerful learning. She suggested using blogs – something I started directly after I read her post and asked my students to do the same – because the nature of blogs provide some advantages. Then the next step would be, make it as a habit. You might be inspired, you might be moved, your light might be ignited, but then if you do not keep your light or your fire burn, then it will all be useless. Find your best time of your day to start thinking and reflecting and writing. Learning from others would be a very good thing to do to keep the fire of reflecting burning, and this is what I do, I join the Teacher Challenge, learn from the others and read from other sources as well.

And that’s what I will try to do my best, keep the fire burning and learn from others.

Life as a blogger, a new blogger

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This is the wordle version of my post
This is the wordle version of my post

My life as a blogger is still very young, I just started blogging two years ago. I knew blogging long before that, but two years ago was the time when I finally have the time and the courage (and the commitment) to start blogging. Yet, so far I only had 6 posts in my blog. All of them are about my reflection on my experience of helping my students to be a better teacher in Microteaching course.

I started my blog two years ago because I believe that in order to be a better teacher, we need to be able to do reflection on what we have done. Reflection will make us a better teacher, because through reflection, we can always question why we are doing what we are doing, and then from that point we can make some improvement to move forward. With that in mind then I decided then to make weekly reflection as one of the assignment for my Microteaching students in my study program. Then, why blog? Why not pencil and paper? Blog certainly has advantages. First, it builds communication between the readers and the writers because they can give comments on each others’ posts. Second, rich media is possible with blogs. We can insert images, links, videos or documents in our posts. Third, since the posts are published in chronological order, it enables the readers and writers to look back or refer to previous comments or posts, or link to them. Fourth, with tags facility then it is easy to search and find the previous posts. It is easy as well to organize the posts that we publish.

With those advantages then I join this Teacher Challenge, then I can call myself blogger, and if someday I am asked to post about “Life as a blogger”, my post will be much different.

Carpe Diem!

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Last week I was disappointed with my Micro Teaching students because none of them seemed to be ready to have the voluntary class teaching. I told them in the previous week that they should prepare for 30-minute class teaching, where they have to teach the students using all the skills that have been discussed. Well, they have wasted their time. They could have learned a lot from their friends who performed, but they wasted their opportunity. This behavior is what makes us left behind. We seldom take the momentum, never seize the day.

Carpe Diem!

Example, example and example (Modelling)

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Now we have come to the end of group teaching. Theories have been discussed (hopefully they understand them ) and applied (not all of the students applied the theories in their teaching successfully). However, we are here to practice to become a professional teacher, and the journey towards professionalism is a bumpy, long and winding road. Yet, helps are at hand and near, because we are a professional learning community, where we learn and help other to be more professional.

During the group teaching sessions I noticed several weaknesses on the student teachers’ performance. One of them is they forgot or did not know that they need to give examples for their students first before they ask them to produce the text orally or in written form. They never talked about the models, the examples that enable the students to learn and then produce similar texts. If they did give the example, the gave it towards the end of their teaching, which is far too late. Or, they lectured about the things that they (the teachers) thought their students should know. Well, who is learning here, the teacher or the students? The things that they think their students should know are sometimes not relevant and meaningful to their students, or presented teacher-centeredly so the students will unlikely to find it interesting, relevant and meaningful.

In this genre-based teaching, where text (both written and spoken text) is the primary attention, modeling is necessary. Because by modeling the students will be able to see the good examples of the texts that later they are supposed to create. In modeling stage the students discuss the generic structure and linguistics feature of a text.  After that, the students could work together to produce the desired text. This step is called joint construction. Later, after the process of revising, drafting and finalizing, the groups’ final draft is submitted. The last stage would be independent construction. Here the students individually produce similar texts like the model. In that case then, the models presented to the students are the ones which are free from mistakes (minimum requirement mistakes, spelling mistakes, ext).

The problem that the student teachers are likely to face is to find the suitable examples of the texts. It is not easy to find examples, especially the good ones. One solution would be to adjust or adapt the examples from the textbooks. The other solution would be creating our own example based on the generic structure of the texts. Well, let’s see whether on the next teaching practice they have used the examples or not.

Preparation is the key

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Last week we have started our big groups teaching. What I mean by big group teaching is that the class is divided into two big groups (each consisting of 10 or 11 students). This time the student teacher has to practice teaching in bigger groups, unlike the previous semesters, when, after they finished doing peer teaching practice, they would work in groups of four and teach their group. This time, with a larger number of students, hopefully the students would have a more realistic-closer to real classroom setting which will better prepare them for their PPL.

With bigger groups then hopefully the students will prepare themselves better and much more seriously, and be able to experience closer to real classroom setting. They now have 20 minutes teaching and they have to use all the skills that we have discussed: set induction and set closure, delivery and stimulus variation skills, and questioning and reinforcement skills. However, not all of them prepared themselves well, and not all of them taught based on the Competence Standard/Basic Competence requested. Some of them lack the focus on their teaching (i.e. it’s not very clear whether they are teaching which skill of the four skills). There are a few of them who taught grammar out of context (i.e. they start teaching grammar from the formula, without putting those structure in context, like in texts or discourse, just like what it is requested in KTSP). It seems to me that the quotation I read before (I forgot where I read it) is true: “Teachers teach the way they are taught.” All the theories that they have previously learned in previous courses during their study in English Education Study Program seems to evaporate. Gone. No trace at all. Certainly there are a lot of things to improve. But that is what makes teaching becomes meaningful: life-long learning. You never stop learning, you are always learning.

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