From technological advances to modern day ‘distractions’, teachers today have a different set of challenges to those in generations past. NOW! Jakarta spoke to two teachers about the changes in the field.
Technology Integrator at Jakarta Intercultural School.
Along with his career in education, Hugo has been working as a classroom teacher, primary principal and landing now in the land of technology. Besides his passion for fostering creativity, he loves sharing his passion in learning process through workshops both national and regional levels, social media, and even when meeting other teachers. Working closely with technology in inquiry classrooms has awarded him as Apple Distinguished Educator in 2015, Book Creator and Common Sense Ambassador, also Certified BrainPop Educator
Please tell us about your philosophy of education, your approach to teaching.
I believe that education is about how people with their own unique qualities contribute to maintaining a positive atmosphere.
In education, we see how your contribution might influence others, therefore everyone can learn from each other. Talking about learning from each other, I see that personal learning is really important. The way I learn or the things I want to learn are showing the uniqueness of an individual. It gives a strong impact on my approach to teaching. I see the way students learn not in one single method but multiple where I believe how personal it is. Some students might be enjoying searching for answers independently as they inquire to some open-ended questions, whilst some feel more comfortable engaging with others in joyful discussions.
What is the teaching profession like at the moment. With the demands placed on students to be equipped with a variety of skills, what are schools and teachers doing to deal with these challenges?
I see teaching nowadays as a profession that requires improvement in its practice. Like any other profession, teachers have to actively be responsible for their work quality and professional development.
Many schools now look for better development in not only the deliverance of teaching but also better development in nurturing students as the whole round human being. It means that being great in academic is not the only option to reach the goal in learning. Facilitating students to learn their passion to the best they can be is becoming the most essential objective for schools and teachers. Some challenges that schools and teachers face nowadays are the traditional point of view in having high academic achievement as the only option of acknowledgment, some subjects are more important than the others, and education has no option for differentiation. Schools nowadays have to facilitate students personal inquiry and celebrate the differentiation as the acknowledgment that everyone is unique with their own pace and passion.
How do you go about using technology to help enhance classroom instruction? Also, how do you encourage your students to go into the material beyond the classroom setting?
I love the way technology is available to help education work better. However, I would like to emphasise here that technology helps education. It means that technology is not the main reason. The main reason is education. The underline in using technology is about the pedagogical background. There are two things that I always remember when using technology for classroom instruction.
First is about the objective of learning. The next one is how technology used to empower students to enhance their skills in communication, collaboration, research, and elaborating their understanding. It is not the beauty or the fancy of technology used but how it is strengthening students’ learning comprehension. One simple example is when I ask my students to write a story. I will not be proud when my students submit their file offline or online. I look for more possibilities in enhancing their learning within the technology area. Those students can collaborate furthermore using online file sharing. They gain feedback from other friends. They work on the feedback and submit the result in different forms according to their own choice. It might be a slide show or a short movie using different forms of technology. It is not to forget to mention how the movie produced might be ending in different genres for each student. If you see carefully, then you will see how I have expanded my objectives in teaching writing not only a story but also opening collaboration, communication and even embracing their passions.
Another important aspect is that technology is not only about having a screen in front of you but also using other forms of technology in making your learning meaningful.
How have your students responded to your methods of instruction?
Learning is the main idea. It might sound not fun in the beginning. As teachers, we need to emphasise that learning process is the most important. I found that the students articulate their learning process better at the end of the day. They communicate fluently on how they learn things including failures and how they learn from the failures in their reflection. I also see how parents appreciate the learning process to see how their children becoming a lifelong learner where they see learning dispositions such as resilience, relating, resourceful and reflective are not only jargon but part of growing as learners.
Senior School Supervisor, Gandhi Memorial Intercontinental School
A teacher for over 25 years, Sweta Avisek has been at Gandhi Memorial Intercontinental School since 2004 where she teaches English and Economics.
How would you describe students today? Do you feel they are more curious about the world, more (or less) involved in the academic process?
It is more challenging to teach students today. They are more curious and ask a lot of questions about the world. Being such, they also have more knowledge about what is going on in the world and prefer to understand with real life examples.
What are some of the challenges you feel educators today face compared to say maybe a generation ago?
Academically, the students today are not rote and have become more analytical and evaluative. They prefer to do projects and presentations rather than the old form of writing and taking notes.
How do you approach teaching to make things engaging for students who may tend to be surrounded by more distractions than students 15-20 years ago?
The work of an educator has become much more challenging today. There are more distractions in the form of social media and peer pressure has also increased. Parents maybe due to their busyness have become too gullible towards the demands of their children. Moreover, as the students are naturally technologically oriented, it is a challenge as an educator needs to be adept at technology and be aware of the latest apps.
What are some of the tools you use in the classroom to help students excel?
Most of the students today have a lower concentration span and so it becomes essential for a teacher to use a variety of teaching tools. The old lecture method doesn’t work with this generation. The best way to engage them is to keep moving from lecture, to Powerpoint presentations, group work and discussions, projects and involve them by using apps such as sli.do, which makes interaction easy, live quizzes, Glisser which can be used to share the presentation and students can take notes on it and share, Padlet etc. Using these apps gives them the opportunity to be involved using the method most preferred by them. It also gives opportunity to introvert students who avoid getting involved openly.
This article is originally from paper. Read NOW!Jakarta Magazine May 2019 issue “Kids, Family, and Education”. Available at selected bookstore or SUBSCRIBE here.