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Back in 1990's, there was a little girl always admiring her teachers and aspiring to be a teacher herself one day. In her initial years, she quenched her thirst for teaching by helping her young cousins in their studies. Years passed by, tide of events took her into nursing profession but that passion for teaching never died and she kept on accepting every opportunity here and there, voluntary or professional, to teach. The underlying motivation for this passion to teach, for her, is twofold: desire to ensure maximum output of her knowledge and skills by sharing it with others and to venture into yet another unchartered territories of learning in the process. This teaching assignment was yet another booster to that passion for teaching and helped me fulfill both the purposes.
Teaching is a two way process where teacher as well as learner both learn with collaboration. Teaching is one of the most honorable professions in which a teacher transforms values and knowledge to the learner and while doing so he also acquires a great deal of experience. Everyone initiates their amateur teaching careers in a very early age by imposing our superior knowledge on our friends or siblings.
In this paper I will reflect and evaluate on my own teaching journey. The first part of my paper will explore my perception about the term "teaching" and discuss the incidences which introduced me to a new philosophy of teaching. Second part will discuss upon the teaching strategies and the last part of paper will focus on my learning experience through this teaching and learning project.
In my experience of schooling most of the time I have learned in a traditional learning environment, where teachers were strict and central body of information. When I completed my schooling, I realized that there are thousands of questions which are unanswered. Why is that so? I asked myself that if classroom is the only place where I can learn? Were the authoritative behavior of teacher, rigid curriculum, text books and memorizing lessons enough for my learning? Is it a disrespect of teacher to ask questions? This thought was continuously striking my mind. The 'either-or' philosophy changed my viewpoint on teaching as Dewey said "The knowledge and skill of the mature person has no directive value for the experience of the immature" (Dewey, 1938, pp 21-22). Teaching is an interactive and collaborative way of learning and it is a process in which the learner and teacher both share their knowledge, skills, attitude, experience etc. However in progressive teaching, teacher facilitates the learner in developing skills by sharing personal experiences.
In the paired project work I was assigned the task to be a teacher and my partner to be a learner. Before I start imposing anything on her, I preferred to ask what are her objectives and motives towards learning, what her learning needs are and what drives her to learn that particular topic. This reminds me one of my class lectures on thinking about education reforms in which Dewey (1997) explained that in progressive teaching methods the sets of rules are essential, freedom thrives within the rules rather than being imposed from outside. On inquiring from her, my partner shared that once her friend was injured and was bleeding profusely at that time she didn't know what basic first aid she should give to her friend before reaching to hospital. As she got chance to learn from a healthcare professional, she wanted to learn First Aid. Now this was the greatest challenge for me to teach First Aid to a non-healthcare professional. However, I took this challenge as my own learning and started working on my task.
I started making a lesson plan on "First Aid" in order to keep myself organized and well planned. I discussed this plan with my student so that she can add objectives which are in her interest, or may amend any, if she wants to, so that we both work towards a common goal. Moreover, adult learners are always relevancy oriented therefore; learners should know how the learning objectives are related to the leaning activities. The important thing which I wanted to know was to assess my student's prior knowledge on First Aid. For this purpose, I made a small pre-test questionnaire based on multiple choice questions, and the result helped me in planning further.
In the next stage I gave her some pre reading materials regarding First Aid, so as to make her feel an active participant. As Dewey (1997) mentioned that teacher should treat learner as equal rather than sub-ordinates as it is a two way interaction. In addition, more learning takes place if we actively engage the learner and provides opportunity for learners to obtain prerequisite knowledge. In the whole journey I always wanted to serve as a facilitator rather than a teacher.
It is proven fact that using variety of instructional methodologies enhances the retention of key messages. Therefore, I decided various strategies so that I could make this teaching learning journey an exciting one. My student was an adult learner; therefore I used andragogy approach of teaching in which the learners are self-directed, autonomous, goal oriented and practical (Stephen, 2007). I will discuss these strategies one by one with recommendation and limitations. Furthermore, I will reflect which of them went well and what parts of my lesson I would consider using in the future and the areas of improvement which I identified after reflecting the whole journey.
I made the pictorial power point presentation on First Aid so as to give my learner the clear idea of what First Aid is, advantages of knowing first aid, giving theoretical point of views of the first aid, skills along with rationales and how to apply it in an emergency situations. After that, I showed her a movie on first aid on control of bleeding, in that part I taught her different types of bandaging. According to my point of view First Aid can be learnt best if we go through the process of demonstration and re-demonstration. I used this strategy in teaching bandaging to have my student observe the rules and various techniques of bandaging and gave my learner the opportunity to practice what has been demonstrated. This helped my learner to transfer theory in to practical application and gave her the opportunity to ask targeted questions and answers. However, skills like cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) requires specialized expertise and a lot of hands on practice which was the limitation of my teaching journey due to limited time allotted for the project.
Practicing First Aid requires problem solving and decision making skills. Therefore, this was again a big challenge and added responsibility to make sure that I give clear message to my learner as First Aid is a life saving skill. Hence, I created few case scenarios to judge her learning and her use of critical thinking in each case scenario. This strategy also gave me an idea on what is more to this topic which needs reinforcement. This strategy also facilitates learner's higher level of thinking as this requires application, synthesis and evaluation rather than memorizing things.
One thing which I found innovative after reflecting on my teaching was that I gave my learner a task to do free online courses on first aid. This idea was taken from Dewey point of view that students should not only learn in the traditional class room learning environment (Dewey, 1997). However, virtual learning environments facilitate learner for the self directed learning and boost up the confidence level of learner. In addition to this, the certificates she got from doing those courses will increase the credibility of her Curriculum vitae.
For the purpose of evaluation I took the same pre test in the form of post test from my leaner in order to know that where my learner stands after learning the first aid. The results gave me immense satisfaction that despite having many hurdles and challenges, I was able to transform the basic knowledge to her on First Aid. Furthermore, for my learning I asked her to give me feedback on my teaching so that I can improve on, which would be a helpful tool for my future.
Nevertheless, as soon as I move closer to my reflection on teaching skills which, at the first sight, seems to be perfect to a certain point, starts to reveal my areas of improvement. Firstly, I tend to speak too much of medical jargons during my facilitation which makes learner confuse in getting the central idea of the lesson. Secondly, I felt that I overburdened my learner in asking to do the online courses in a limited time. However, I could have been more flexible by asking her to do it in her own time. Thirdly, I realized that I could have collaborated with the professionals, those who take such lectures for the general public. This would have broadened my horizon in managing the challenges which I faced like ways of teaching life saving skills to a non-health care professional for e.g. cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
If I conduct this teaching in future for a bigger group of students I will prefer using the strategies of case scenarios, demonstration and re-demonstration and visual things because it can easily be remembered. Moreover, one thing which I realized after reading Dewey idea of progressive teaching is that students learn from their personal experience in far effective manner than any other exercise (Dewey, 1997). Therefore, having group discussion or sharing their personal experience one can learn from diverse group of people. However, this was a limitation in a pair project where there was only a single learner. Most importantly I will also meet with the professionals for their guidance who are expert in teaching First Aid.
The learning which took place from this entire teaching learning journey is memorable. I learned to teach in an innovative way when there are limited resources available, to manage time effectively when there is a time constraint, to teach such topic to a person who is not from that particular field. Moreover, the feedback enhanced my own learning to learn about myself as a teacher. However, this reflection enhanced my personal and intellectual growth. All in all, it helped me realize through personal reflection a famous saying that a teacher is like a candle. Just like the light of candle is spread in all dimensions, the impact of a teacher over society is also beyond any measures. A teacher has a power to transform the society in all dimensions.
Dewey (1938) writes, "is a literal fact Education, in its broadest sense, is the means of this social continuity of life" (p. 39).