I'm so proud of my institution.
It's one thing to know that your students remember your lessons from a photo but it is amazing and deeply fulfilling to know that students remember lessons from both you and your brother’s lessons. What’s more amazing is the the student is a GREAT teacher
Wishing all my teachers, teacher friends and my student-teachers a happy teachers' day.
On this day I received two very meaningful gifts. They were emails from my student and ex student. I am really thankful for their generous comments. To me this is the greatest type of gift of all.
From a current student:
On my way to school, I saw the clouds GROWWWW bigger and get darker. I could feel the cold wind across blowing across my face. I told myself that it'll rain in 15 minutes, and guess what? It did!! HAHA. You see Prof Chang, the difference you have made in your role as an Educator! Indeed, I'm really not kidding on this, but you're one of the most inspiring teachers I've crossed paths with, and I can't be more thankful for that. HAPPY TEACHERS' DAY, and have a great one! :)
From an ex student:
Dear Dr Chang,
I just want to wish you a Happy Teachers' Day. Thank you for your guidance when I was an undergrad in NIE. I will never forget how you conduct your lesson by asking us question, probing us to think further.
Thank you for your effort and contribution in developing me as an educator.
Take care and enjoy your day!
Mrs Frances Ess, a senior teacher who is on attachment with us, started attending my AAG233: Climate and Climate change class as part of her observation on how university lecturers teach. At the end of the session, I gave her a ride home as the class eneded at 1815. We chatted in the car and I inevitably asked for her observation of my class. Short of sounding boastful, Frances affirmed some key features of my teaching that I will share below as part of my personal reflection exercise:
- Ability to engage students for an extended period fo time (3 hours in this case). Frances noted that the level of engagement remained high even in the third hour. In her words, she was surprised that I could get the students to read an article for 15 minutes and then discuss it even though it was the beginning of the 3rd hour of the class. She said, i could get away with blue murder!
- Ability to build rapport with students (even at the first session). This is perhaps due to the rapport I have built with them since year one.
- A good story teller who uses the power of narrative in teaching.
- An entertaining teacher (she contrasted it to the concept of an entertainer). To Frances, many teachers can be entertainers but she called me an entertaining teacher.
There were some other things she said but I cannot recall all of them. Let us wait for her blog and I will publish it here (after I ask her for permission; afternote: yes she has given the green light. here is the link http://mamafesspdl.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/a-climate-of-change-changing-climate-in-singapore/).
Thanks Frances, your comments affirmed my teaching philosophy and what I believe are the key factors to my professional practice as a teacher.
I conducted a workshop on climate change education yesterday at Westwood Secondary School. It was O level results day so we could only spend 2 hours on the workshop. There was good initial feedback and I have been invited to go back to the school for an extention run so that we could deal with some of the issues deeper. I will share some reflections on this workshop after the second run.
Today marks the last group of oral defense for ACG321. This time I have decided to do individual oral defense of their unit plans. An interesting observation is that despite the numerous attempts at reassuing them that the oral defense to help them improve thier own understanding of the unit planning process, rather than just another assignment, they are still very nervous. Perhaps this is really due to the heavy emphasis that people put on grades. Grade anxiwety as it is commonly known is the feeling of nervousness, uneasiness and great concern over academic measurement of performance. Grade anxiety may lead to the loss of pleasure in learning, as the focus becomes on the outcome of grades rather than on the learing itself. It may also result in less efficient cognitive functioning as anxiety reduces one's ability to concentrate. In addition the preoccupation with performance menas that fewer cognitive resources are available for the oral defense. Of course the anxiety will also lead to physical and psychological stress. I must think abou thow the grade anxiety can be reduced in future batches.
We administered a class test yesterday modelled after 3 O level questions for our teacher trainnes in ACG321 who are learning how to plan for instruction. As part of teesting their prior content knowledge, and as part of allowing the trainee teachers to understand where their gaps in understanding are, the test was desgined to test knowledge and skills in the geography discipline. We have included graphs, maps and tables for analysis questions and also require students to draw on their knowledge of current events to answer questions on climate, coast and tourism. I persoanlly wonder if this is an effective diagnostic tool to determine the readiness leve of students. However, a quick glance through the test script that I will grade in a while has showed me that there is indeed areas that students need help in developing deeper understanding. More later...
A brand new exciting semester is starting today. Look out for new postings here on my reflections of my teaching epxereince this coming few months.
I was just clearing up my office at the end of semester when I realise I had to deal with a thick pile of field reports. These were submitted by the students who went to the Hanoi fieldtrip with me in December 2009 and I must say I am very pleased with the academic quality of the reports. Perhaps I am blessed with a good cohort of students but I believe it has to do with the way I designed the course AAG401. Although a 1-hour per week slot has always been allocated for the course before the students go for the fieldtrip, I have made these 1 hour slots even more tructured then before. I have set milestones for them to complete namely:
- Conduct a prelimiary literature review
- Formulating the research question
- Concept mapping the ideas around the research topic.
- Write a litearture review on methodology
- Write a proposed methodology chapter
- Design a field guide book
At each stage, 3 steps were taken: Peer reivew of the milestone product by one classmate, review of the product by me and then a revision which was then uploaded onto the CMS - BlackBoard.
I think this forces the student to pace their fieldwork and research and allows them to spend more time on data analysis and then writing after the fieldtrip itself.
While I am generally staisfied with this approach I think a few improvements can be made in future runs:
- Include a similar process for the post-fieldwork sessions, especially on data analysis.
- Have an oral presentation before the submission of the final product to allow for reflection
I have gathered some reflections from the students but I shall not post them here. Most of them have indicated that being in the field itself allows them to see the geographical phenomena they are studying from a very differen perspective. They have also learnt that a lot of field investigation depends on the site and even with the most comprehensive planning, some degree of improvisiation is required. At some point, I will collect these reflections and share them in an article. For the moment, I should write these thoughts down before they get eroded by time.