On 20th June 2015, the Selangau District Education Office organised a one-day workshop for four main subjects of UPSR, Malay Language, English, Science and Mathematics. It is the first time in the history of our district that we have called on all the schools’ teachers teaching the subjects to come together to experience learning simultaneously in their respective classrooms. It is also our first time organising such a big event in a university, our one and only in town, University College of Technology Sarawak.
The workshop is aimed at giving teachers knowledge and ideas on how they can help their students to tackle the UPSR format questions. The workshop is also aimed at creating a culture of sharing among the teachers so that those expert (have many years of service under their belt) would share with those beginning teachers.
As for me, I chose myself to be the speaker for English subject because I felt I have a lot of information, skills and knowledge that I have been wanting to share with them. All these while, I have shared those with the teachers under my coaching list. But, what happened is that there are many other teachers out there who would want to know in details what I’ve been sharing on our Whatsapps group, my Twitter and this blog. To be able to tell or share something with them is good, but to be able to show it to them and have them to experience it first hand is better. So, I intended to do just that.
Another reason why I chose myself is because of my understanding of the teachers and the students in our Selangau rural context. As an instructional coach for over 15 months, I observed how my teachers taught and how their students learnt. In a way, I was constantly challenged to offer suggestions and ideas of how I can help the students learn better and faster. I consistently challenge myself to think outside the box on which strategies, techniques or methods can help students learn.
And the answers to those challenge are the TEN principles that teachers need to hold on to everytime they teach.
1. A classroom must be student-centered.
2. Students learn better when they are in groups.
3. Students only learn (to remember) when they are engaged.
4. Students learn (to understand) better when you involve them in thinking about solutions to problems.
5. Visuals or images ALWAYS help develop better understanding.
6. Students learn when you show them why they do what they do.
7. Practice (and I do mean, LOTS OF MEANINGFUL PRACTICES) is always crucial to bridge the gap between what they know and what they don’t know. (theory of Zone of Proximal Development, ZPD)
8. Drilling and repetition is a must in learning, but students learn better and better when those are done in fun ways.
9. Social interactions and peer teaching help students progress much faster.
10. Students are much more motivated to learn when assessment is suited to their level. Differentiated assessment is a must.
So, to do all these, I have planned and carried out a series of activities, followed by short session after every activity to deconstruct, to give and receive feedback as well as feed-forward with the participants.
This is what we did on that day!
Reflecting on the whole process of this workshop, I felt very satisfied with the outcomes. The outcomes here are the feedback I’ve got from the participants. Yesterday, I received plenty of positive feedback, comments and words of encouragement regarding this workshop. Many would wish this workshop can be done more frequently to expose teachers to ideas, methodology of teaching of English.
What’s next for me?
I am now more determined than ever to help my teachers to teach their kids well. With positive words going around and an open mind to be receptive to new ideas to change, I believe we can made a big difference in our students’ lives.