Love Your Students

“Love is the not easy. But for teachers who truly want their students to learn, there is no other choice.” So ended the author of the book Dear Teacher on his/her seminal article “Love Your Student.” Knowledge and Love are two important things that teacher must have. “What is your philosophy of teaching,” s/he asked.

  1. In this article, I learnt that a teacher’s love for students is operationally defined as work—work out knowing and work out loving learning. I learnt that there is always “something new-a new way of approaching teaching and learning.” I learnt that love for students is felt strongly in the most extreme situation as students talking at the top of their voices, going to class without assignments, and totally unappreciative of what teachers are doing. Most of all, I valued my teaching-learning philosophy, even more. I strongly believe that no teacher must be allowed to stand in front of his/her student without a worldview of his/her own; whilst a teacher who holds on a philosophy without changing it must be guillotined.
  2. I honestly do not have anything I do not clearly understand. I guess the author sums up well the National Competency-Based Teachers’ Standards—knowledge (of curriculum, planning, assessment, and reporting), learning environment that is sensitive to the diversity of learners, and the social regard for learning.
  3. As a student, I used to think that education is framed by spoonfeeding the textbook content. As a beginning teacher, I struggled teaching to finish the contents of a book in order to quantify learning and justify teaching. And as a person, I used to think that changing my principles in life is changing who I am. So I’d rather not change at all. But then, the article made me reflect on the rudiments of these ideas and how I have changed to be that person the article refers to. As I self-studied about education, joined seminars, workshops, and conferences, downloaded iTune University, TedTalks and other webinars and videoblogs; stuff my player with podcasts on education, I began to realise, teaching is creating your own style in teaching changing contents. The textbook must not define the teacher. The teacher does, as much as he is shaped by his/her context. What quantifies learning and justifies teaching are the learners themselves being considered in the planning, and even them deciding where to begin the teaching-learning experience. Lastly, I could change my principles in teaching, and I can do it as often as possible, with the learners in mind.
  4. Probably not with the article itself, but I’d like to look into the concepts of knowledge and love. How much amount of knowledge are we to input? How much should be left for the learners to do by themselves? Is love so difficult to actualise in the classroom? Although content knowledge is important, a teacher who has depth and breadth of knowledge is someone who just not propel the top ten into superior level of achievement but also the bottom ten to have a level of achievement where they can have a sense of pride. At that moment they achieve it, it might not be very high, but the progress they made is significant enough for fireworks. I do not think loving learners is difficult. It is hard if you look at teaching as something that puts food in the table; if you look at teaching as a business transaction; mostly when you are not a disciple of christ. It is the last one that makes you love students as you love people, genuinely.
  5. A good study may focus on evaluating teachers who are already in the field against the NCBTS, and measuring the perception of undergraduates towards NCBTS. The first is to check whether a teacher is aligned or not with the NCBTS; while the second is to imprint the significance of the principles in the NCBTS in the minds of would-be teachers. A survey about teacher’s personal philosophy may also be a good one, and its practice inside the classroom, with actual responses from the students to validate
  6. As a matter of learning from this text, let me just for a moment. On one hand, if we look into the system of public schools, the upper sections’ needs are met way because the most intelligent teachers are more likely to land there. But that is a minimal percent. Let’s admit that somehow school culture are exclusive, favoring the so-called intellectual sections. Meanwhile, the lower sections are more in number. Aren’t supposed the smart teachers staying teachers in the lower sections and taking the challenge to help these kids gain the confidence in a level of achievement they could be most proud of? Then we ask ourselves, how come we produce substandard HS graduates, not actually fit for college tasks? If the norm lies there and we don’t do something about what data shows, are we not who Einstein refers to when he said insanity is doing the same thing for over 100 years and expecting a different result?

It is not the United States that we must look into in terms of rudimentary school reforms. It is Finland. Topping International assessments like PISA is a feat, but when you learn that they do that unintentionally, be astonished. Finland simply have high achievement through its strong support system: teaching is not just a noble, but highest paid and most respected profession. In fact, the smartest ones becomes the teacher. They do not assign numerical grades but rather checklist and rubrics of student achievements. They do not prepare to test and for test but lifelong learners by exposing students to reading for variety of uses, skills practices not rote memorising contents, and the 21st themes and skills alignment.

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A Radically Different Approach to LifeCollege Management

ImageBakke (2005) outlined a management principle and work ethos that structurally (or un-structured, really) fits a 21st century workplace.

That is, to say, a deviant from the industrial revolution scheme where there are outdated procedural  manuals who nobody really cared to read; people boxed into organizational charts with detailed job descriptions; and because of lack of freedom and accountability, shift supervisors are assigned and wired to be skeptical.

Interestingly, Bakke modeled the approach to our tiny friends who brings delight to afternoon teas–the Bees and their Honeycomb.”Each of these bees can fly individually up to several miles from the hive to the fireweed on that recently logged mountain. They independently collect nectar and make the trek back home. They return to the hive with nectar, which others in the hive use to produce this wonderful honey we use on our toast.” (Bakke, 2005, p.87)

I guess, it is high time to review the processes inside the school’s organisation and see what befits our context against this new model. Interestingly, our goal seems simple, but the tasks so daunting. The goal is to deliver each task that our stakeholders require in the most effective, efficient, and economic manner.

Here are the principles we need to consider to make work fun for every LifeCollege person or people (in contrast to LifeCollege partners- stakeholders).

1. Every person, a business person – a business person is defined as “someone who must steward resources (money, equipment, fuels) to meet a need in society while balancing the contributions and needs of all the stakeholders in groups” (Bakke 2005, p. 88). In other words, every employee is a business person who ensure the best balance of interests among all the persons in the organisation.

2. Every person, a part of a team – The whole company is organised in teams, working groups, or ‘families’. Each family is self-governing and would be responsible for the budget, workload, safety, schedules, maintenance, compensation, expenses, purchase, quality control, hiring, and most other aspects of their work life.  (p.88)

For the most part, they are also responsible for day-to-day operations, investments, maintenance, schedule, long-term strategy, hours of work, hiring and firing, education, safety, environmental management, risk management, budgeting and economic performance, quality control, charity giving, or community relations. (p. 90)

The grouping into multi-skilled and self-managed teams is normally according to expertise: finance and budgeting; long-term planning; safety issues; human resources and the like. (p.90)

3. Every leader exercises participatory management style – That is, the leader would seek out advice from knowledgeable colleagues before making a decision. Suggestions are welcomed and rewarded, but the boss still makes the final decision. In this way, the group either vote among themselves or discuss the matter until they had a consensus.

4. Every person, a learner – Whilst every teacher devotes 80% of time working on the primary tasks: syllabus writing, lesson planning, test writing, checking attendance, recording and grading achievements, and organizing parents-teacher conference, and class team building, 20% of their time must be spent on participating in special tasks, giving advice, learning new skills, working on projects not necessarily related to their primary responsibility.

5. Every person in the central staff group, a servant – The primary task is to bring fun and fulfillment in the workplace. No matter how tedious that task seemed as taking charge of the values, financial modeling, strategic planning, teaching, leading teams and task forces, and participating in the advice process. People here are the most selfless, humble, and willing to delegate. They delegate because they believe that (1) people are always wiser than how executives think about them; and (2) if these people make a wrong move, they will have satisfaction and will grow because they make it.

6. Every person involved, a decision maker – Every person is a proactive contributor in terms of ideas and solutions to problems. Once this person made a decision, the group, the team, and the entire company take responsibility for it. A person may be asked to decide because he is the one greatly affected, or the one who initiated the idea, discovered a problem, or saw the opportunity. He may not be the official leader but he seeks advice from leaders and from peers.

Implications to LifeCollege 

As we claim to become 21st century learning hub, we now move towards analysing our own system and processes. We look at how the current practices and realities may or may not fit the direction we are going to. Hence, we are ready to adopt and we seek opportunities to adopt.

Just last school year, we started revising our organizational chart and make it a circle, representing clear family relations lines, the top management are inside while the frontliners are outside, as they are the window to the world. Levels are categorised into teams as K1-G1, G2-G4, G5-G7, G8-10. Each team has an assigned team leader and is being trained to handle other tasks for that level. The underlying principle here is to connect the learning areas into 21st century learning themes and let each level teams discuss, decide, and decipher the age-appropriate and level-appropriate knowledge, skills, understanding, and products/performance to be used inside the classroom.

At the end of the day, if we say that learning is fun-filled experience at the college, then the workplace or the work environment must also be fun and fulfilling for every LifeCollege person.

Reference:

Bakke, Dennis W. 2005. Joy At Work: A Revolutionary Approach to Fun in the Job. Seattle: PVG