or The Four Things I Realized After Attending the GTA SEA 2014
I was lucky to be one of the participants of the Google Teacher Academy Southeast Asia. Now let me share with you few of the important things that our public schools in the Philippines must embrace or we will continue to lag behind our neighbors.
By the way, the Google Teacher Academy is a gathering of teachers who are passionate about using technology in teaching. After this two-day training the participants become Google Certified Teacher.
Much of my learning did not come from the speakers/instructors of the GTA. I got most of the ideas, practices, insights, and inspiration from my fellow participants.
Here are the three most important things that I think our public school system must do to improve our education system.
1. We need more leaders who are passionate about using technology.
I have met teachers who are interested in implementing new systems to simplify his workflow but are too afraid to try those because of fear that they might be going against the rules set by the higher authorities. Well, I understand them. How would you be motivated to create innovations if you don’t get support from your superiors? How would you be motivated to initiate change if your superiors do not understand why you are creating such. Even I feel that some administrators are trying to impose limitations on teachers that they become afraid or unmotivated to institute change. I see a huge inconsistencies with the direction set by the national office and they way this vision is being delivered to the teachers and school leaders.
Instead of creating an atmosphere of simply following strict rules that limit, we should create an atmosphere that encourages teachers to be creative and innovative. That can only be possible if we have leaders in the department who understand this.
I like this pencil metaphor. It shows the current situation in my community:
We have very few leaders who are adopting and sharing technology in the classroom. I know that they are plenty of sharp ones but they need someone to push them or inspire them. The biggest in number is the wood. Many teachers are willing to use technology but there are too few opportunities for them to learn. I also know a lot of ferrules and erasers. The hangers-on, too, abound. All they do is blah-blah about what they know but not really doing anything to help.
For all of these to become better, we need visionary and real leaders.
2. We need to start seeing change differently.
We teach “inertia” in physics. It means resistance to change. Inertia is a property of mass — the greater the mass, the greater the inertia. Some teachers and administrators have “grown” so attached with their time-tested teaching methods and strategies they grew up with that they tend to resent any hint of change. They have become too big their inertia makes them think they are bigger than the change.
What is ironic is that the department keeps on barraging teachers with intentions to increase the students’ performance but they are not really helping the teachers in improving their teaching methods and explore new ideas in teaching. Teachers are always burdened with too many paper work, too many checklists to tick, too many that teachers no longer have enough time to really think about and implement innovations.
This quotation about insanity is really apt for them:
3. We need to develop a culture of collaboration.
I seldom see teachers from different schools sharing their resources and strategies. Collaboration among teachers is not a thing here in this part of the world. Many educators see each other as competitors. There must really be crab DNA in our chromosomes.
Take the case of the National Achievement Test. It takes a huge space in the consciousness of our administrators. First, they use it to gauge how much incentive (Performance-Based Bonus or PBB) to give each teacher. Did they even realize that there are so many ways to measure how effective a teacher than just one exam? Second, they use measure effectiveness of schools. These two reasons result to a lot of anomalies.
Furthermore, schools are competing to outrank each other. And it it never a healthy competition. Don’t we have the same enemy to beat? Why don’t we work together to beat the problem about the quality of education?
4. We should start looking at opportunities instead of the limitations
Whenever I attempt to introduce a technology I am using in the classroom to other teachers, the usual replies would be:
- Our students do now have computers at home
- Our schools doesn’t have strong internet connection
- We don’t even have projectors!
- I don’t even know how to send email
We tend to focus on why something will not work instead of the endless possibilities that we can use technology to improve our teaching.
As I have always said it is not the sophistication of the technology, but our creativity, that determines the effectiveness of our teaching.
It saddens me to see teachers who are unwilling to learn. How can we teach our students to love learning if we ourselves shun away from opportunities that make us better teachers?
Unless we change our mindset about these things we will never attain that illustrious goal of giving our students quality education — that illustrious goal will just be illusory.