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Best/Worst Teacher Ever

Have you ever wondered what makes you the best or worst teacher ever?

I know this is a stupid question for teachers, as we are used to question our work every day in every class; but, what makes the difference? how is it possible that the same teacher is the best during one school year and the worst the next year?

Teachers must know that in order to answer those questions they have to take into account all the variables possible, which most of the times are endless lists of what could go right or wrong. During their time in university teacher trainees should have discussed endless debates of those lists and no one could have reached a final resolution, has anyone?

I’m the Best Teacher Ever! 🙂

Have you ever felt the excitement of having fantastic-to-work-with sponge students?

I know, this is also an stupid question for teachers, as every class is full with students eager to learn -at least that has been my case- but what I want you to think about and feel  is when you’re doing what you’re supposed, and magically all around your class works out perfectly; the students are learning, the parents are grateful, the school praises and the teacher is not working.

I’m the Worst Teacher Ever! 🙁

Have you ever felt the necessity of turning everything around, upside down, over and any other preposition you may think of?

Yes, it is indeed another stupid question for teachers, as we work in the educational context; teachers want to change every single thing they may think should work better in a different way. Nevertheless, teachers cannot change all; even though they know what is affecting their environment and they know how to solve it, teachers most of the times have to cope with huge pink elephants which are impossible to move. The students are not learning, the parents complain, the school pushes and the teacher works.

Viewpoint

The endless list I mentioned before is naworred to four main aspects: students, parents, school and the teacher. However,  the term “school” will be changed to “syllabus” because that is truly the issue. And again, this is MY very personal point of view based on MY very personal experience.

Syllabus

Have you ever felt happy or unhappy with your class contents?

Eureka! That’s not a stupid question; well, I have felt both and both have gave me sorrow and pain, but also gratification and something to write about. 😛

This has been the biggest issue when it comes to perform an excellent job in my teaching years. It appears that when there is a main objective at the top and better yet, there is a method to achieve it: all the variables come together thriving. If a teacher studied to be a teacher, (s)he knows what (s)he is doing in front of the classroom and acknowledges the problems which are arising within the class, therefore the teacher must propose a solution. If the syllabus accepts the solution it is almost certain that the people involved will be satisfied.

If it is considered that the teacher knows how to teach, then it is supposed that (s)he uses the correct techniques and activities to teach what the syllabus asks to teachers and students. Here it is where the problem shows up, under the statement that the teacher will do all possible to achieve the objectives of the syllabus, there should be no problem in any way. But, what if there isn’t any general objective and the syllabus is not intended for the particular social and cultural background of the class? Of course all sorts of problems will  show up throughout the school year, and because students are not able to complete such syllabus, frustrations will grow on the people involved: teachers, parents and worst, students.

As people in Mexico say: “hay de dos moles” -you’ve got two flavors-  whether the teacher follows the syllabus or (him)herself; ok… maybe more than only two.

Students, Parents and Teachers

If there is a general objective, a well established syllabus which is intended for the level, culture and society of the class, besides a trained teacher who likes what (s)he does; I do not think there should be any problem.

Have you ever experienced something like this? -not another stupid question.

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Un año más

Así es, ha pasado un año escolar más y ahora depende de todos entender de que nos ha servido; en lugar de que pensemos que hemos gastado un año, hay que darnos la oportunidad de entender que hemos ganado un año.

De los Maestros

Ya hay varios que en estos momentos se encuentran preocupados debido a la falta de tiempo para terminar los libros, llenar cuadritos, líneas y circulitos con tal de quedar bien con la dirección, la supervisión además de, con los papás.

Hay otros que en estos momentos se encuentran ocupados con lo que piensan realizar el siguiente año escolar, basándose en una autocrítica, evaluación de iguales o de sus alumnos. Pero, ¿cuántos maestros realmente pueden decir esto? Maestros ocupados en entender el nuevo material o en conocer las nuevas técnicas para la realización de actividades; realizando evaluaciones de los libros ocupados y tareas hechas.

Hace poco leí una entrada (una disculpa por no tener la liga en este momento) en dónde la coordinadora de la integración de las tecnología de la información y la comunicación, en una escuela primaria, expresaba su satisfacción de haber podido crear, desarrollar así como finalizar varios y diversos proyectos en diferentes grados escolares. Había descrito la maravillosa experiencia que habían tenido los alumnos y la gran satisfacción que los maestros sintieron. Aún así, mi asombro no fueron los recursos tecnológicos que utilizaron, sino, que la coordinadora ya estaba en la preparación de los nuevos proyectos en conjunto con los maestros, y por supuesto que lo qué no haya dado resultado se cambiaba.

¿Se dan cuenta de la gran idea “revolucionaría” descrita arriba? -sin mencionar lo “peligrosa” de la situación.

Y es que no es posible conocer en cuántas escuelas de nuestra comunidad los maestros en conjunto con los directivos realmente se preocupan por diseñar lo novedoso del año siguiente como una sola comunidad. ¿Cuántos maestros tendrán una continuidad en su trabajo? ¿Cuántos maestros se interesan por esa continuidad? ¿Cuántos directivos se centran en esa continuidad de su personal?

Desafortunadamente, muchos maestros se centran en la continuidad del empleo y en la contraparte en la continuidad del empleado.

Una situación excelente sería que en lo más temprano posible los maestros se enterarán de su situación futura, el grado que impartirá, su compañeros de fórmula (auxiliar, maestro extracurricular) y desde ese momento empezar con la planeación del año siguiente. Varios maestros se sienten traicionados debido a que en algunas escuelas particulares no pagan los meses de vacaciones de verano, entonces por qué no proveer una situación en que los maestros necesiten ir a trabajar en esas fechas y, por lo consiguiente merecer una retribución por el trabajo realizado. ¿Porqué salir el último día de junio y regresar una semana antes de clases? ¿Cómo se puede preparar un año entero en tan pocos días?

Como maestro, yo sí creo que los maestros merecemos irnos de vacaciones unos días de verano; pero, no creo que irme y perderme por dos meses sea lo mejor para mi práctica profesional.

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Teacher Evaluations

I have been involved in evaluation for the past two weeks; first, I asked my methodology students to start searching for a class to perform a teacher evaluation and check what methods and/or approaches he or she is implementing. Second, I was asked to perform one in this school I am working due to all the free time I experienced during the Enlace test.

So, I had the trouble of knowing what I had to evaluate. Obviously, I went on-line to find useful and interesting articles on which to base the evaluation, I found a book on Google Academic named An Introduction to Classroom Observation by E. C. Wragg, it seems really appealing, though I cannot read it because of copyright. Nevertheless, I could find several web pages to have a wide idea of what an evaluation form and feedback may be.

What most articles mention is that the evaluator has to be honest and specific with the feedback but every time he has to be respectful and polite. The evaluator also has to bear in mind that the evaluation may be used for several purposes which may include: awards, raises, promotions or even the continuity of the teacher’s contract.

Being said that the evaluation has to be honest, offer suggestions, describe specific situations of the class for improvement besides, it also must be nice and respectful.

From the teacher perspective, the evaluation has to offer a wide variety of self-improvement as well as suggestions to fix those unnoticed errors made by himself or herself. The teacher community must feel comfortable and safe of school evaluations as they are a great means for innovation overall. Besides, it is not the same to be evaluated by a similar or peer than by an outsider from the educational field.

Finally, I hope my peers and I find an excellent means for recognition and self awareness of our teaching styles to offer a much better experience for our students as to our own persona.

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My Methodology

Introduction

It has been a great placer to work under such a great friend I met in the university, and although we developed a fantastic relationship, we could not see each other for a long time.

It was February when she called me (that was a surprise since we only texted) and she invited me to be a teacher in her school at San Juan Teotihuacan; at first, I was astonished because this would be the first time I would be teaching this kind of subject: methodology. We started talking and shared points of view, we went to Mexico City twice to two different conferences given by excellent scholars sponsored by Cambridge University.

Then, I was getting excited because we were getting to something which seemed to become outstanding. I don’t want to write all the details, but they do not involve teaching English only, hence not myself being an English teacher. But, the first step did involve for me to teach English language teaching methodology.

My Methodology

This meant a wonderful opportunity to reread all those old books from college, and that extra book from IACM. It was an awing surprise when I realized I did learn something from my classes as a student, and I am actually applying them into my classes as a teacher -every teacher I had would be so proud of me :((-

I remember we had to read all these old methods from ancient times, then we read all these new methods from not so ancient times; nevertheless, we did not have to learn them by heart, because later we were told that it does not matter what method or approach a teacher uses, the best teacher is the one who can accommodate every method and approach to the different classes a teacher may have. Why is that? well, mainly because if there were a perfect method therefore, there wouldn’t be so many!

I thank my friend for letting me to wonder how I am teaching, what I can improve and, how I can implement new ideas  -I am waiting to read a new book she bought of methodology- and of course, every thing I will learn from my students.