The art of teaching

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.
Albert Einstein – German-born physicist (1879 – 1955)

“…to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”

Albert Einstein could not be more precise. Time has passed since the first teacher and first students were born and we are still dealing with the challenges of the supreme art of teaching with a goal to be ever reached: awaken our learners joy in creative expression and knowledge. How modern and up to date it that? Provided that we have been all teaching with love, care, self-motivation and professionalism, we also have all been willing for that moment in our teaching when our students will stand up or raise their hands and speak up with joy, proudly of showing (and almost showing off) their creativity and knowledge. Paulo Freire, a Brazilian educator, once said that teachers must be able to bring about epistemological curiosity in their students. Likewise, Rubem Alvez, another brilliant Brazilian educator, claims that a good teacher will teach nothing but the will to learn, the curiosity to discover, to look around and dive into de details of life. A teacher for him has to find joy in teaching. Similarly and of course very humbingly, I may say that teachers who seek professionalism and who have found their joy of teaching (which most of the times comes prior to professionalism) will have their work acknowledged because students will never forget them and their lessons.

Today is teachers day and I want to say: congratulations my beloved educators!

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Go back to school, be a student and become a better teacher.

I am now having the best development course I could ever have had in my life. I am back to school of language as a student. At first I just wanted to brush up my English and get a certificate that I still do not have (to be honest I never appreciated paying to get a certificate). However, as I have had plenty of time available lately and this unstoppable will to learn more and more, I also came back to French and registered to a post-graduation course in English Language and Educational Technologies. Good enough so far, right? No! After the first class I realized I could get more of such experiences as a learner. I realized I could also do some peer observation and approach considerations.  Since I am studying in three different places with totally different approaches, I thought it would bring me a great deal of critical thinking about my own practice as well.

Peer observation is not very comfortable for many teachers, but when we are students, I guess we can do both: learn the language and observe the teacher. I have observed my classmates behavior as well and I cannot stop thinking of myself as a teacher in many situations. To be more organized I created a list of things to observe and points to ponder and to follow as the courses go on. I want to be positive in my observations and realistic as well.

My list goes like this:

1. Rapport
How does teachers (I have two) succeed in building rapport? How intentionally does it seem to be?

2. Lesson Plan
How are lessons planned and prepared? Are they  well planned lessons or just a follow the book one?

3. Technology and digital and visual literacy
How do students and teachers react to the presence of technology in class? Do they use it? Is there a smart board? Is it well used? Is there any visual input prepared by teachers? Do teachers or students use cell phones or iPads in class with a learning purpose? How is it made?

4. Feedback
How do teachers work on feedback?

5. Teacher use of his time in class
How does class start? How does it end? Is there any kind of digression? How does it affect students and teachers?

6. Voices in the classroom

7. Silence in the classroom

8. General feeling after each class. Was it worth sitting and watching?

9. What kind of personal constraints made me feel less productive in class? Was it physical or psychological? How did it damage my learning?

These are some points I will be observing while sitting in my desk learning new things from my sweet teachers and classmates. I guess it will be fun. 😉

TOEFL Ibt – Flip it and let them learn!

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My TOEFL Ibt course at ICBEU Manaus was carefully designed by myself and the only thing I had in my mind when I submitted the project to coordination was: let my students choose their time to get input at home, by themselves, and I will make myself available for them so I can help them with their activities and simulations that I will provide. I will also give them fast feedback. Then, I flipped it. Done! It is working.  🙂 If  you wish to know more about Flipped Classroom, just click here.

The missing link!

The missing link

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Not long ago, teachers got used to searching for a range of techniques that could be possibly used in the classroom in order to create a variety of opportunities that would affect learner’s different needs and learning styles. Not only did teachers strive to succeed inside the classrooms, but also outside them.  As a result of this effort, computer assisted learning has evolved and awarded us with blended learning, a learning that will actively enhance classroom studies. Have we finally found the key to successful studies in EFL then?

Listening, reading, writing, speaking, learning strategies and cultural aspects of languages can be easily found outside school walls nowadays. Surprisingly, learning management systems online (many of them free of charge) seem to have broken those walls and what before used to be school domain is now a learner’s prerogative anywhere s/he may go.  Teachers asked for more autonomous learners and learners claimed for more interactive and less repetitive activities. Digital generations have this need for immediate feedback and faster results. They want to be able to use computers and any other electronic internet based device to learn and access knowledge. Teachers and learners envisioned a less time-consuming assessment of students’ progress; something that would be more dynamic and visual. Isn’t it true?

Blended Learning comes as an answer. A variety of activities and tasks have been put together in a ubiquitous space and made available for learners and teachers outside the classroom in many different formats. Games, songs, podcasting, writing and publishing, forums, dynamic grammar activities with immediate feedback, memory games, pictionaries, dictionaries with fast response to pronunciation issues, not to mention, synchronous and asynchronous communication with members of a learning cycle are currently part of what used to be called homework. Interaction has not been lost as well; in fact, it has increased.copyright-2010-edtech-digest-blended-learning

On the other hand, together with such a fancy fast change in our teaching-learning relationship comes along a whole need for adaptation and development of new competences. Teachers are not the same, learning has changed and students are different as well. Teaching these days means educating and motivating collective intelligence to a more conscientious citizenship. We are in a sharing-oriented learning cycle. Teachers are expected to spend more time connecting and orienting students towards this shared knowledge than to preformatted content and exercises. Teachers are active learners and educators who have to be ready to face the challenges of this still obscure cyber culture, where blended learning came from.

In the vast seas of internet, where everything can be found and lost, there is place for self-studies and effective language learning. Is blended learning the missing link? The so wanted key to success in language teaching? There is a lot of learner’s autonomy and teacher’s hard work inside it. It certainly is an evolution in language education. Therefore, if it is not the missing link, it certainly is an unavoidable and attractive pathway towards it.

Suelen Viana is a professor of English as a foreign language at ICBEU Manaus and has also worked as a professor of new educational technologies at ESBAM.

	

David Brooks – The social animal.

“People learn from people they love!”

“Emotions are not separate from reason. They are the foundation of reason as they show us what to value.”

“The first gift or talent is Mindsight: the ability to enter into other people’s minds and learn what they have to offer…. Babies are born to interpenetrate into Mom’s mind and download what they find.”

“We are overconfidence machines [1]. Ninety-five percent of our professors say they are above average teachers. Ninety-six percent of college students say they have above average social skills. Time magazine asked Americans if they are in the top 1% of earners. Nineteen percent of Americans [say they] are in the top 1% of earners.”

Source: http://www.ezrasf.com/wplog/2011/03/23/ted-talk-david-brooks-the-social-animal/