My experience working as an English teacher in a primary school in Hong Kong was very fulfilling. The students were eager to learn a new language, English, and were very much willing to communicate in the language. However, this being a foreign language to them, which they were learning as a second language, it was not so rosy for them. This paper is a reflection of my teaching experience in the Hong Kong Primary school where I interacted with young learners trying to learn the English language for the first time.
There were many challenges along the way, but the whole process can be summarized as a success given the circumstances. The students were fairly young, with an average of about 10 years. Learning a new language at such a young age can be a challenge as it requires more time. Majority of the students in the school speak Chinese and English will only be a second language to them. I have to create a good learning environment for non-English speakers as well as those students with special needs to feel comfortable throughout the learning process and benefit from the education albeit their differences. Therefore, these children need a lot of help in terms of handling their school work, expressing themselves, behaving well in the school environment, and organizing themselves among other forms of assistance.
Besides, the school did not have some of the technological learning aides such as overhead projectors and screens, which would have made the learning process easier. These tools can be very useful in learning as hey make the lessons interactive. Projectors can be used to relay images on the screens, show video clips, and display presentations. This this can break the monotony of the learning process, by allowing students to focus on something else apart from just getting instructions from the teacher and taking notes form the blackboard. However, with these aspects of the learning process absent, it was very difficult to engage the students effectively in the lessons. Nevertheless, as an experienced teacher, it was very crucial for me to devise some strategies that would enable the students learn something regardless of the challenge of lack of appropriate learning aids. For example, I shared images of some words in different colors and their corresponding pictures, where the students could easily identify the pictures and name them. this was important in helping them learn new vocabularies.
The other critical factor to consider is that the students did not have the motivation to study. Most of them seemed disinterested in learning. This was probably due to the methods used in teaching in the school, most of which were monotonous and boring for the learners. Therefore, the retention levels among the students were very low, leading to massive failures in the end. This was of particular concern to me as I felt it was against the core objectives of a learning process. Any learning process must be interactive and must be beneficial to the learners. Therefore, in my lessons, I devised a good method for teaching the students the English language. I used simple and easier stories that were funny, but were also meaningful in terms of their educative content. Through the stories, the students were able to learn new words, understand the meanings of the words in context and relate with the words. This made the lessons more interesting for the students, aroused their motivation, and improved their retention levels. Consequently, many of the students were able to improve in their English language and had already acquired the basics of the language.
It takes great skill and consciousness to become a good writer. Unlike spoken language writing is a complex process and involves a number of stages. Pre-writing is the first stage and it involves the collection of ideas and piecing them together on a rough sketch also known as shitty draft. This is the followed by actual writing where the writer becomes more logic in presentation. As soon as they are done writing revision follows and here the writer adds, rearrange, remove and replace necessary or unnecessary information. The last stage of this process is editing. While editing the writer proof read their work to fine tune and avoid mistakes. Here, they check for clarity, punctuation, spelling and grammar.
The knowledge, attitudes, and skills of a teacher are very critical in the success of the teaching process. A teacher must be in a position to contribute positively towards the professional development of the learner. This is only possible if the teacher himself or herself has the necessary skills, knowledge and the right attitude towards the profession. There is a significant amount of research that brings out evidence on the appropriate skills, knowledge and attitudes that are necessary for an effective teaching process. For instance, scholars identify several competencies that teachers need to have in order to be successful in their teaching practice. He states that teachers must be open minded, willing to learn new ideas, caring, enthusiastic, and approachable. Furthermore, a teacher has to be an effective teacher and leader willing to have an impact in developing the skills of younger generation of teachers and midwives. Without these kinds of skills and attitude, it is very difficult to have any meaningful teaching relationship with a learner.
Teachers must be role models and successful practitioners with a good track record of achievement in their own professional practice. This gives them the edge and the moral authority in offering guidance to younger and novice learners. According to Ellis (2006, p. 380), teachers must also gain credibility through registering with recognized organizations such as the teachers unions and get the necessary certifications to empower them as teachers. Furthermore, they ought to network with each other and share their teaching experiences, share knowledge, and determine how they can improve their teaching and knowledge sharing skills in order to develop the profession.
One of the most critical aspects of teaching is assessment of learners. The government has set the bar high for new expectations for assessment of learning in practice. This places greater responsibilities on teachers to conduct regular assessments on their apprentices. Essentially, assessment of learners in a clinical environment involves consultations between colleagues as well as with universities and colleges from where the learners are based.
Reflecting on my teaching experience, it is clear that the issues raised in the research studies discussed above are very critical. Teachers have to work on building their own skills, get involved in a continuous process of acquiring knowledge, and always possess the right attitude to the profession and to the teaching process. From a personal point of view, I believe there are numerous areas in my practice that imply specific weaknesses and areas that I need to improve on. These areas of weakness in my teaching practice have limited my ability to build my personal leadership and management skills, thereby also affecting my delivery of knowledge to my mentees and my colleagues. One such area of weakness that I have noticed is rigidity. As a nurse, I have been rigid in my practice in the sense that I do not have room or flexibility to take opinions from other people. Secondly, my lack of training in new approaches and advanced technology has also been a limiting factor in building my leadership skills.
Positive working relationships will help improve the quality of learning delivered to learners in a variety of ways. For instance, good working relationships among teachers can help improve the delivery of education and resolving common or normal learning challenges. This is because there will be a good working environment where everybody will be willing to work to achieve a common objective of improving learning outcomes for learners. On the other hand, effective working relationships in inter-professional teams is very crucial in resolving problems through sharing resources, ideas, and knowledge that will help improve the outcomes of the learning process.
Therefore, working relationships have a huge influence on inter-professional learning environments as well as on the delivery of quality education. A good inter-professional learning environment is based on the values of teamwork, understanding, trust, and collaboration. In order to have successful Inter-Professional Education (IPE), there has to be willingness to share information, resources, and tools that will lead to resolution of emerging complex education needs. Consequently, it is very vital to build nursing professionals who are willing to engage with other professionals in other fields with the sole objective of improving the quality of care. Therefore, all mentorship programs must be aligned towards enhancing the capacity of younger professionals to collaborate with other professionals through inter-professional teams.
In conclusion, I have gained massively from this teaching experience. I was able to build on my previous knowledge and experiences in learning new concepts that have changed my perspective on organizational processes. Among some of the most significant factors that stood out for me in the teaching experience include useful insights on vocabulary, communication and the concept of storytelling, as one of the main methods of teaching. I intend to use the information I have gained form this teaching experience in my careers by improving my managerial and leadership skills.
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