Sunday, March 18, 2018

Teachers, students must have mutual respect in classroom

ACCORDING to a report, cases of parents lodging police reports against teachers are on the rise and are occurring almost every week.

Most of the reports involved disciplinary actions taken against their children by the teachers.

Reports were lodged for the simplest of reasons such as their children being scolded by the teachers.

Most of these cases do not warrant police intervention and can be resolved amicably in the school.

Parents need to understand that learning and teaching can take place only when there is discipline and mutual respect in the classroom.

No learning can take place if there is indiscipline.

When a child continuously misbehaves in class while a teacher is teaching, the teacher will have to discipline him.

There are many ways a teacher can discipline a child such as ordering him to stand up, reprimanding him, scolding him or tapping him on the shoulder.

Sometimes, the teacher may discipline the child beyond the permissible boundary if the child is difficult or relcalcitrant.

Parents who are unhappy with the mode of punishment should exercise restraint and approach the school principal to resolve the matter.

Sadly, some parents rush to the police station to lodge reports against the teachers.

Dragging teachers to court damages the integrity and honour of teachers.

Parents need to follow the standard operating procedure in dealing with teachers who may have abused their children.

Parents are not allowed to barge into the school and confront the teachers.

The unhappy parents should see the head teacher or principal, and make a formal complaint.

All parties will be heard and the principal will ensure that the mediation is done in an amicable manner.

If the teacher is wrong, he or she must apologise to the parents. If the child needs medical attention, the cost must be borne by the teacher.

If the child is wrong and deserves to be punished, the onus is on the parents to apologise to the teacher.

Sometimes, children exaggerate and do not tell their parents what transpires in school.

In the early days, parents put their whole trust and faith in teachers. This is wonderfully encapsulated in this Malay saying when they hand over their child to the teacher with this advice: “Cikgu buatlah yang terbaik yang cikgu rasa baik untuk anak saya.” (Do whatever it takes for the wellbeing of my child.)

“Kalau perlu pukul, pukullah dia. Cuma jangan bagi dia buta atau cacat sudahlah.” (If you need to cane, cane him. Just do not make him blind or a cripple).

Today, however, parents drag teachers to court even for scolding their children.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

No need for tedious reports

THREE senior teachers from my church have submitted their optional retirement papers.

I was shocked when I heard that they had put in their optional retirement papers because they have a lot going for them in their teaching careers.

All three said that they love teaching but the work pressure and the online reporting has taken a toll on their teaching.

Many more teachers are burdened with non teaching duties that have made them lose their teaching enthusiasm and passion.

Many are not too happy with the new lesson plan writing format which had to be typed on the computer. It is not that these teachers are against writing lesson plans but the complex structure and format of the new lesson plan has burdened them tremendously. Lesson plan writing is synonymous with the teaching fraternity. Teachers write their lesson plan before they enter a class to teach.

The lesson plan provides the teacher with a vision, mission and a guide on the intended lesson.
By the end of the lesson the teacher is expected to achieve the learning outcomes as outlined in the lesson plan.

The children should have learnt a new skill or new knowledge as stipulated in the lesson plan. The lesson plan has been a check and balance for teachers whether they are doing their work.
It is an offence to enter a class without a lesson plan for the lesson.

During my time in the early 1980s and 1990s teachers carried a Record Book and lesson plans were written in it.
Teachers had to enter the class with the Record Book and if an officer from the Education Department or Ministry made a surprise appearance, the teacher without a Record Book would be given a stern warning.
If the teacher had not written the lesson plan for the day, the teacher would be marked and be under strict observation.
An so it was ingrained to us from teachers’ training college that writing lesson plans was paramount and the Record Book should be with us in the classroom.
During my time the lesson plan for particular lessons were quite simple and written in less than five lines.
The lesson plan had the following items - date, time, topic, syllabus specification, activities and the source – either the text book or workbook. Teacher trainees in the Teacher Education Institute on the other hand are taught to write elaborate lesson plans as part of their teaching and learning experience.
Teacher trainees have always been reminded that if they fail to write their lesson plan, then they plan to fail in the classroom.
During their practicum in the school, the teacher trainees are given a one hour lesson everyday where they are expected to write complete lesson plans with pre, while and post activities, teaching aids and worksheets.
The lesson plans are written following a standard format and structure and all the activities are elaborately explained.
When they are posted to schools as trained teachers, they are not able to write exhaustive lesson plans because they may have more than three to four lessons a day.
Writing a few lines of the lesson in the Record Book worked well with teachers.
But today teachers have to type their lesson plan on the computer and to file the print out in a ring file.
It looks simple and easy but teachers are not too happy with the format and mode of lesson plan writing.
They spend a lot of time working on completing the lesson plan instead of teaching the lesson plan. Teaching has become very complex and document standards and gathering evidence in lesson plan writing has made it a tedious process.
And teachers are burdened with other non teaching duties which have impacted many teachers physically and emotionally.


Monday, December 18, 2017

40 Uses For Smartphones in School

As Alanis Morissette once said, ‘isn’t it ironic’. After years of struggle between teachers and students and the use of smartphones in school, new educational trends are actually encouraging the use of these devices.

The mobile, cellphone or smartphone is not just used for WhatsApp, Facebook or Angry Birds, it can be used in a multitude of ways from an educational perspective. Don’t believe us? Keep reading. In this article we bring together 40 uses for smartphones in school.

Before we continue, it is worth remembering that this does not mean we should suddenly change the way in which we teach and allow the use of the smartphones without control. The purpose of this article is simply to remove some of the negative connotations around smartphones and to consider new possibilities which we have at our disposal. In order for students to use smartphones in school responsibly, it is important that we set limits and rules beforehand.

A revolution in the classroom:
  1. Check facts: probably the most common use of all. Both students and teachers can now find facts within seconds. This can be very useful when explaining and debating topics.
  2. Take photos: mobile phones can be used as cameras to illustrate work and presentations.
  3. Make videos: similar to the last point. For example, videos can be used to record experiments and later include them in projects.
  4. Carry out tests: this is probably one of the most interesting and revolutionary uses of the mobile phone in the classroom. Students can now take quizzes and tests on their mobile phone that were created earlier by their teacher. In this way, teachers can gain valuable real-time insight into the knowledge of their students and the effectiveness of their teaching. To implement this technique now, download the ExamTime Mobile App for iOS or Android.
  5. Read the news: many teachers often include news articles as part of their teaching methods (for example, in Economics). With an endless amount of news gathering mobile applications, you can bring news and current affairs into the classroom in an instant.
  6. Dictionary: there are a multitude of dictionary applications that allow you to check the meaning of a word instantly.
  7. Translator: again, this can help with meaning and explanation of a foreign word just like the dictionary application.
  8. Calendar: no more forgetfulness or confusion about exam dates or submission deadlines. Now you have applications that allow you to synchronize calendars.
  9. Write down ideas: inspiration doesn’t always come when we want it to. For that reason, try using your mobile device. Smartphones allow us to take down notes any time, any place.
  10. Listen to music: we have spoken before at length about how music helps us to study. Additionally, you do not need to store your songs if you use services such as Spotify or Soundcloud.
  11. Images: as you well know, a picture is worth a thousand words. For this reason, in many cases, students find it easier to understand material when there is an image related to an explanation. Mind Maps are a good example of a tool that helps in this regard.
  12. Review: smartphones allows you to access resources and material quickly before an exam. Don’t forget to sign up with ExamTime online and then download the official app for Android or iOS.
  13. Stopwatch/timer: classes, exercises and presentations often come with time limits. Practice your time management by using your mobile phone’s stopwatch.
  14. Read eBooks: when learning, applying for a job position or going to University, reading PDFs and manuals can be mandatory. For this reason, applications like Kindle allow us to read books and manuals from anywhere.
  15. Voice Recorder: mobile phone provide students with the ability to record explanations. These recordings can be referred to later on and can save a great deal of time instead of writing. In these cases, always remember to get permission from the teacher first.
  16. Discover related subject material: among many other functions, the ExamTime App lets you search through more than one million study resources created by other ExamTime users.
  17. Document scanner: although it does not offer the same quality as a traditional scanner, the camera of a mobile phone can serve as a scanner. Some teachers even support the delivery of class work through photos (for example, Math exercises).
  18. Calculator: there are numerous applications that enable you to perform all the operations of a scientific calculator. This helps reduce the amount of items students must carry in their bags.
  19. Edit videos: not only can we make videos, but we can also edit them, add text, filters, effects and more.
  20. Edit pictures: the same can be done with images as with videos.
  21. Publish in the class blog: class blogs are an increasingly common exercise these days and help develop writing skills. Thanks to your mobile phone, you can write and post articles at any time.
  22. Track blog visits: the implementation of Google Analytics allows you to check the progress of your class blog from anywhere.
  23. Make presentations: instead of having to carry around external hard drives and USB sticks, store the material in your mobile phone and connect it directly to the projector. Have you tried ‘play mode’ using the ExamTime Mind Map tool?
  24. Remote control: whether switching from one slide to another during a presentation or stopping and playing a video, there are applications that enable you to use our smartphone as a remote control.
  25. Communicate: the PA system is a thing of the past. If a student must go to the secretary or principal’s office, you can communicate with them through a text message.
  26. Store Formulae: smartphones allows us to store mathematical and scientific formulas close to hand. There are applications that already contain hundreds of commonly used formulae, all you have to do is look for them.
  27. Control noise in the classroom: your mobile phone can serve as a decibel meter and tell you when the noise level gets too high. Reward the students by keeping the noise at an agreed level. Recommended application: Too noisy.
  28. Updates: Remind is an app designed to send notifications to parents and/or students without knowing their phone number. This means that the boundaries between privacy and the classroom can be maintained while communication is not hampered.
  29. Locate points on the map: during class location based apps can help when introducing students to a region of country. Applications such as Google Maps help us to locate ourselves and are great in History and Geography classes.
  30. Tweet: Twitter is a social network that has many educational uses. The mobile phone is probably the best way to access it to read and write Tweets about education. Don’t forget to follow ExamTime on Twitter.
  31. Study Vocabulary: in foreign language classes, vocabulary is crucial. Quite often students don’t pay enough attention and can get left behind. Flashcards are one of the resources that provide better results when viewing from mobile phones and are super easy to digest.
  32. Control Attendance: there are many applications that can help keep track of the attendance of students direct from our mobile phone.
  33. Assess Students: mobile phones can be used to monitor and keep track of a student’s course work and exam results. In this way, teachers have access at all times to a particular student and can see if that student is making progress or not.
  34. Clock: studies have shown that more people are reaching for their mobile phone to check the time rather than checking their wristwatch. Why not check the weather on your mobile device too?
  35. Inspire: originality is one of the best ways to keep students interested. However, sometimes students simply get bored. The mobile phone provides a window to the world where you can discover topics and ideas that are otherwise limited by traditional books and encyclopaedias.
  36. Share Notes: many teachers tend to distribute material at the beginning or at the end of the class. Instead photocopying large amounts of paper and handing them out, your mobile phone allows you to easily perform this function. Again, the ExamTime App can help with that!
  37. Digital Whiteboard: Although the majority of apps that serve as a digital Whiteboard are optimized for tablets, there are also some that can be used directly from your phone and allow you to project everything you create.
  38. Weather: for those teachers who like to move the lesson outdoors, weather apps can come in very useful to see the forecast. These apps can also serve specific lessons in explaining the climatic conditions in other regions/countries.
  39. Measure Productivity: there are applications, such as Time Recording Pro, that allow you to measure the time you have dedicated to a particular task. This can be very useful for teachers and students when taking on a project that is divided into several phases.
  40. Play: there is much talk of the gamification of the educational process, i.e. the need to transform learning into a game as much as possible. There are literally hundreds of educational apps that can make learning more enjoyable and easier on the students.
These 40 uses of Smartphones in School are just the beginning. The teaching and learning process can be enriched by embracing these ideas. Provided they are monitored and conducted in the safest manner, smartphone use in school is going to be the next big thing in 2015/ 2016.