Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My Barriers in Teaching and Learning

                                          Paññāsāstra University of Cambodia

Since I consecrate my life teaching the children, I find real satisfaction on sharing constructive criticism for the betterment of our new generation.  Teaching is one of the supreme fulfillments of my ‘generativity’ stage (Erikson's seventh developmental lifespan stage) in which my primary concern is to help develop the younger generation to gain the necessary knowledge, experience, understanding, and competencies to lead a useful life.  But I learn early that I can’t fix everything.  In the process, I encounter considerable hurdles. I would like to share my barriers in teaching and learning:
  1. In teaching and learning, I learn to enjoy uncertainty and become familiar with failure.  The word “study” has multiple meanings to my students.
  2. I need to understand who the students are, their motivation to learning.  It is not always possible to teach students who are not internally motivated.
  3. I face many challenges to continuously looking for innovative ways to enhance classroom management, lesson-implementation skills and rapport with students.
  4. The instructional style versus the learning style must be matched.  Develop interest in the subject, develop an engaging method of delivery and use other motivational issues play a bigger in successful teaching and learning.
  5. There are no seven habits of effective teaching, no five rules for pedagogic success.  The truth is that teaching is frequently a gloriously messy pursuit in which shock, contradiction and risk are endemic. 
  6. My life as a teacher often boils down to my best attempt to muddle through the complex contexts and configurations that my classrooms represent.
  7. Passion, hope, doubt, fear, exhilaration, weariness, colleagueship, loneliness, glorious defeats, hollow victories and above all the certainties of surprise and ambiguity.  These are teaching.
  8. Teachings means to situational and resolutely plow ahead assuming that standardized indicators of good teaching do exist and can be proven to be reliable and valid across multiple contexts.
  9. I find out there are no such things as having common standards of teaching and learning in multiple classroom settings. 
  10. Events happen to us, but experiences are constructed by us as we make sense of theses events.  Experience can teach us habits of bigotry, stereotyping and disregard for significant but inconvenient information.
  11. Sometimes the best way for me to help learners struggle with difficult subject matter is not to offer them help but to let them work through these alone.  It requires patience, and it is time consuming.
  12. Some of the major dilemmas and complex uncertainties, such as how to strike the right balance between being supportive to students and challenging them with tasks they resist; how to create activities that simultaneously address all learning styles and racial traditions in a culturally and academically diverse classroom, exist in every institution.
  13. It is hard to imagine how can I make a difference in my students’ lives because every day circumstances force me to make a dazzlingly quick series of judgement about what to do next in class, how to respond to unforeseen events or how to translate a broad pedagogic or philosophical purpose into an immediate action.
  14. As a teacher, experiencing ego-deflating episodes of disappointment and demoralization is quite normal because even the most sophisticated practical reasoning cannot rid classroom life of its endemic unpredictability.
  15. I know I will never connect with everyone’s preferred learning style 100 percent of the time because of the diversity of my student’ personalities, experiences, learning styles, cultural formation, racial and cultural traditions and perceptual filters make that impossible.
  16. There is no universal truth in teaching; only personal truth that fits the situation I deal with everyday.
  17. I know that I will never be able to initiate activities that keep all students engaged all the times.
  18. There are no instantaneous successes.  Instead there has been an incremental building of recognition, confidence and success.  I have faith in the long-term victory.
  19. I know that making full disclosure of my expectations and agendas is necessary if I am to establish an authentic presence in a classroom.
  20. I know that I cannot motivate anyone to learn at a very basic level if they don’t wish to.  All I can do is try to remove whatever the pedagogic barriers that are in their way, and provide whatever modeling I can to build the best possible case for learning.
  21. Reading is a skill that all students must learn.  It is the single most important obstacle to academic success.
  22. The information I put in is easier than the information I pull out from the student’s head.  Repetitiveness will help.
  23. To enhance instruction, I must understand that learning is a cultural process invented for survival. Learning is about connecting based on time, frequency and importance of information to learner. Cells in neurons that fire together wire together.
  24.  Emotion is critical to teaching.  Emotional engagement can limit learning experience.  
  25. Best of all, I hope that as you read my words you will find that the truth which you are growing in teaching and learning is increasingly confirmed.