Why do they all want a TEFL?

Many people are confused as to why international teaching jobs are persistent on applicants having a TEFL certificate. Many ask the question of how is it that I have a B.ED degree or a PGCE which takes longer than 4 weeks to complete but still need the TEFL certificate.

The answer is quite simple. The B.ED and PGCE do not provide what a TEFL, CELTA or even a TESOL provides. These are specialized teacher certificates of international recognition. These teacher certificates prepare teachers to step into a classroom to teach confidently. They provide hands-on practical and theoretical training on how to conduct lessons. Teachers who possess these certificates are always made a priority with schools.

Many teachers believe that their honors degree is a credible degree yet we need to understand that the honors degree is not very recognized overseas as the understood qualifications are usually in the following order, Bachelors, Masters, and Ph.D. Anything in between becomes questionable, and if you have to explain your qualifications then its best to not go there. In regards to an honors degree, a British curriculum school would accept it as it is a commonwealth degree, and so if you are applying to work in a commonwealth country or a system that does recognize the commonwealth degrees then this is fine.

The same can be said about higher diplomas and advanced certificates which in South Africa, for example, equates to degrees and some higher than your degree. This is fine if you intend to remain to teach in South Africa, but if you are looking to go abroad, please just focus on the degree and a teaching certificate.
People also ask about the PGCE, and while some countries may look at it (Commonwealth countries and British curriculum schools), this does not apply to the majority.

We need to focus on what the international community wants! Too often we focus on what the university dictates, and this is wrong because universities’ don’t even know how the various industries are progressing. Many people don’t even know how to write a proper CV.
My advice to people is simple; research your industry before even studying towards entering the industry.

Here’s a fact, many teachers overseas don’t even have a B.ED or even a BA degree, all they have is a diploma and TEFL, CELTA or TESOL and sometimes not even a tertiary qualification. Just the fact that they are from an English speaking country and possess one of the mentioned teacher certificates, is all they need.
These are specialized certificates that teach things like English for special purposes, meaning, teaching business English, Medical English or Engineering English. These certificates not only allow you to work at schools but also at universities, language centers or even companies who are in need of a language teacher. Does your BA, B.ED, PGCE prepare you in the way a TEFL would??

Methods to an inquiry based classroom

mind map

Image created by Nabeel Abed

What are provocations?

Provocations simply mean to provoke! They provoke thoughts, discussions, questions, interests, creativity, and ideas. They can also expand on a thought, project, idea, and interest.

They could be in any form…

  • An interesting photo, picture or book,
  • Nature (e.g. animals)
  • Conceptual (e.g. light)
  • Old materials displayed in a new way,
  • An interest that a child or children have,
  • An object (e.g. magnets, maps)
  • New creative mediums,
  • Questions (from any source – e. what is gravity?)
  • An event (e.g. a presentation, a holiday)

Provocations can be as simple as a photo of a rock sculpture next to some pebbles or as elaborate as a table with an assortment of recycled materials next to a book on robots and resources to make upcycled robots. Often though, provocations are simple and displayed beautifully to provoke interest. Similar to strewing, they are usually created as an option, not as a premeditated activity.

Ultimately, the intention of provocations is to provide an invitation for a child to explore and express themselves. It should be open-ended and provide a means for expression where possible.

 

Effectiveness of Inquiry-based learning

reasons-use-inquiry-ficSource 

Simple Scenario

A teacher walks into the class with the students who all see a praying mantis on the floor, they huddle around astonished as to what it is.The teacher gathers around with them and then the questions begin to fly out.

What is it?
Where did it come from?
Can we keep it?
Why are its legs so long? Why is it brown/green?
Where does it live?
What does it eat?

And you can imagine the many other questions that followed. The teacher calmly answered some of the questions and then said to the students who are in grade 5 that it’s for them as homework to research more about it when they get home.

The students then prepared a place for it in the class and gave it stuff they assumed it would need for the night. The next morning they arrive and only to find that the mantis was dead.

Again questions began to flow,

How did it die?
Why did it die?
Where does it go when it dies?
Does it now become part of the cycle of life? What happens at a funeral?

And so the teacher again answers the many questions and the praying mantis has a legendary send-off by the students.

The point we take from this is that the teacher, when discovering the mantis with the kids knew that she had a plan for the day and needed to finish, however, she did not push the questions aside or even the mantis, she welcomed it because it opened a whole new way to learn…INQUIRY.

Of course, once the questions were done, she casually continued her lesson.Perhaps later on the students would do a topic based on the life cycle of an animal and they would always be able to reflect back to what was researched in the praying mantis incident.

Inquiry-Based Mini Lesson Plan – Example

“Teaching with Material Objects” – Lunch pail

Developed by:
Dianna Accordino – Wilson School District
Stephanie Procopio Lancaster-Lebanon IUB
Name of the lesson: Lunch Pails Discipline:
Language Arts / Social Studies

Target grade(s):
K – 2nd

Pennsylvania Standards Addressed:
Begin to develop an understanding of historical interpretation

Lesson Plan Procedure
Show a picture of the object to your class prior to visiting the Freyberger School.

Be sure  to:
Determine students’ prior knowledge of the content.
Introduce the lesson and how you will motivate or capture the students’ attention.  Determine how you will assess if the learning objective(s) was/were met.
Follow the step-by-step procedures that engage students in inquiry-based learning.

Descriptive Analysis:
What is this object? How do you know?
What does it look like? Describe it.
Who would use this object?

Apply Prior Knowledge:
Have you ever seen one of these? Have you ever used one?

Raise Questions:
Draw and write what you think it is or what you would use it for.
Develop Interpretation/Hypothesis Based on Evidence:
show a short video that includes children eating their lunch at school from the  1900s

Review:
Discussion about the video and what object really is.

Apply Information:
What would you have them do with the new information centers:

  1. Compare and contrast using a Venn Diagram
  2. Packing a lunch
  3. Book hook (picture books from the [or depicting] 19th century)
  4. Create your own lunch pail/box using recycled materials “thrifty”

Share Information:
Pictures/writing pieces
Which lunchbox/pail they would choose (then/now)

 

 

Taken from the Nabeel Abed Handbook on methods inquiry-based based learning classroom
© Nabeel Abed 2017 – All rights reserved 

 

Philosophy

Mission

The Nabeel Abed Academy is committed to providing high quality educational development to schools and their teachers’ through internationally bench marked programs and disciplines

Vision

We endeavor to be a regional network of high quality training and development for schools and education facilities with an uncompromising commitment in our role to prepare teachers ,students and individuals with the skills necessary to be able to continue in their roles as leaders and mentors to the future generation. We strive to offer an educational environment where a teacher’s skills are enhanced and the focus of 21st century methodologies are emphasized. Teachers and schools are exposed to the latest methods of teaching through the medium of technology.

Our Beliefs

Every student is different, and has a unique learning style.

  • Every teacher should be trained and equipped to deal with the different levels of students’ within the classroom.
  • Professional development that leads to life-long learning
  • That a school has a collaborative responsibility with the community
  • Students and teachers should develop an appreciation, tolerance, compassion and respect for the rights and cultures of all people.
  • That the multi-cultural diversity of students and teachers is an asset to the development of any community.
  • In honoring the Universal Declaration of Human rights by not discriminating against anyone on the basis of race, color, sex, language, religion, national or social origin or other status.

 

Peer Assessment

In peer assessment, a collaborative learning technique, students evaluate each other’s work. This technique is often used as a learning tool, which gives students feedback on the quality of their work, often with ideas and strategies for improvement.  At the same time, evaluating peers’ work can enhance the evaluators’ own learning and self-confidence. Such an involvement personalizes the learning experience, potentially motivating continued learning. blog-resource-pic.jpg

When used in grading, peer assessment can give the teacher the much needed information on each student’s performance. For large online classes, it may allow inclusion of assignments where students’ creative work could not be graded reliably through automation or efficiently by teaching staff.

Peer assessment techniques vary considerably, and are often best understood through example.  To give effective, valid and reliable feedback to fellow learners, students need clear guidelines, training on assessment criteria and scoring rules, and practice with examples.  Before students are ready to give feedback to others, their assessments should be compared to staff-grading of the same examples for quality assurance.

How does peer assessments help students?

  • It engages students in the learning process
  • working cooperatively
  • thinking critically
  • giving constructive feedback
  • learning from critical appraisal received from others
  • managing one’s own learning autonomously
  • developing interpersonal skills and
  • developing an awareness of group dynamics

Strategies for peer assessment

  • Make it clear for students to understand why they are being involved in such a task
  • Criteria for peer assessment needs to be set out clearly
  • Develop peer assessment skills
  • Make it anonymous

Complement peer assessment processes with a formal and explicitly stated moderation process so that students can see that grading is reliable even while students have a significant role in it.

example

To ensure that students reflect critically and early during a large, summative assessment task such as a report or essay:

  • Use cluster groups
  • Have students present to their group a short draft of their work to date
  • Ask the group to give informal feedback to their peers on their progress
  • You can also have the group provide a formal assessment based on, for example, how well points are supported by evidence, as well as the style and presentation of the draft.

Teacher Resources

All teachers have the daunting task of creating worksheets which are time-consuming and can be stressful at times when thinking of content to add.Compiled below is a list of websites you can use to get worksheets for your classes.All grades and subjects,.Some of the links below also include lesson plan ideas and templates.

Just click the on the titles below to get endless resources…

 

  1. Super Teacher Worksheets
  2. Teachnology
  3. education.com
  4. Teacher Planet
  5. TES
  6. TeacherVision
  7. Edhelper
  8. SchoolExpress
  9. BusyTeacher
  10. Student treasures

 

        Enjoy!

Voices in the classroom

Classroom management is all about procedure. Many like to say that you should have “rules”, but that right there is a problem. Students don’t like rules. A classroom should be a place where students should be free to express themselves within a controlled environment. Rules in a class just stifle students. Makes them feel as if they are in prison and a classroom is anything but a prison.

A classroom needs to be a place where creativity is exchanged; students learn and develop skills that they will take with them into the future. Education today is all about collaboration. If kids are not collaborating, they are not as effective. Many teachers fear that group work brings about noise. Nevertheless, there are many techniques that could be followed to facilitate an effective, collaborative classroom.

One of these techniques is the 6-inch voice. What is the 6-inch voice? This is a technique used among students were by if you were speaking to anybody other than the teacher you are required to use a 6” voice. So how this works is that if a teacher is standing 6 inches away from the student, they should not be able to hear any voices. This technique is perfect for group and pair work. If students fail to use the 6” inch voice then it would result in them not being part of the group or pair activities.

From the first day of school, the 6’voice should be modeled to students, describe how it should work, and have them practice it.Before any group activity begins, remind them of the 6’ voice and over time if need be, put up some signs in the class so that it is always a reminder. Another good way of reminding students of the 6’ voice is to make little cards for each group and stick it on their table which would remind them of the 6’voice and also the fact that if the 6” voice is not used then they would have to complete the group work on their own.

Teachers need to remember that always using a loud voice isn’t as effective as using a softer voice or even whispering. Using a lower pitched voice will always grab attention faster. Teachers also need to remember that preparation is key. Students tend to get bored fast and so preparing well ahead of time is always best.

13 steps to creating an effective learning environment

  1. TTT – 30 %  (Teacher Talk Time)
  2. STT – 70 %  (Student Talk Time)
  3. Teachers position in the class is important – don’t be stationary – walk around
  4. Students seating – More group work – Collaboration
  5. More meaningful activities
  6. Stop lecturing
  7. Allow students to question
  8. Provoke students using appropriate provocations
  9. use the 6 Inch voice policy
  10. Time management is important. Stick to it
  11. Explain well
  12. know how to grab attention
  13. Students must evaluate each other

Technology in Education

 

                                                                    images (1)

 

The big question today is; does technology benefit or hinder a child’s learning process? It is universally understood that technology has its benefits, however, there are those who believe otherwise.A quick search on google would pull up a plethora of information related to technology.
As we know, in theory, we can say whatever we like but in reality, proving our views is a totally different ball game all together.Some research shows that students who use technology actually perform worse than those who don’t and some studies show that technology is actually beneficial.

Many argue that social media can have many negative effects.Such arguments have been going on for many years now and will never end. What we do need to realize is that in everything that we do in life, there is good and bad, how we engage would ultimately categorize it for us. Today we look at social media as a blessing for the simple reason that we can easily connect with friends and family who are far away from us. We have the ability to make a video call, voice call, easily share our daily activities with video or photo, we can even have group chats and group calls.

Businesses today use social media as it has enabled effective communication.Technology in education has arisen in recent years in the form of E-schooling, and online applications that are created to streamline education. There is an abundance of apps related to education online. From online libraries to apps for math or science, even comprehensive tools to assess students’ progress, yet with all of this there is still negativity around the use of technology.

I love technology, I work through my phone as I am always on the go. Some choose their laptops while others may prefer their tablets. Classrooms and boardrooms are now equipped with smart boards to effectively enhance their experience. Schools take it a step further by creating an application that would allow teachers, parents and students to interact even while not at school. Students can submit their homework through the apps and teachers can provide feedback almost instantly. Parents can easily send teachers messages about their kids and vice versa. However, with all the capabilities we would still find a lot of negativity.

Many say that technology is a distraction. Kids have become anti-social, kids are facing eye-sight problems because of the constant use of mobile devices. I could say the same when the television had first come out, or when the radio had first been introduced. We need to be able to draw the line somewhere.
Technology is vital in today’s world. It is how the world operates now. However, we have to realize that we must set boundaries. Both teachers and parents need to play an important role. While the effects of technology are alarming, we cannot turn a blind eye to the actual benefits that it comes with. Students should learn to read a book, they should learn how to hold a pen and write. Students should be able to easily switch from technology and this is where parents and teachers come in. There needs to be limitations, there needs to be understanding.
Reading a book on a kindle is fun. But let’s remember that before we teach kids to read, we must teach them to imagine. Technology in education can be fun. Even social media can be fun and educational if used correctly.

Parents need to monitor tech use at home. Time must be equally divided. Teachers also should promote this. Parents need to constantly monitor what their kids are doing while using technology. Don’t just come home from work and then relax. Pay attention to your kids, monitor them, engage them and guide them. The issue today is that many kids don’t really have such a system at home. They are merely left to do as they please when they get home so that their parents can go out and enjoy themselves. If your child spends too much time on technology then yes they would develop eye sight issues, they would become anti-social, however, creating a balance, giving them other forms of activities to do, encouraging social development outside of technology may just help in strengthening their abilities to be responsible and be aware of the world around them.

Technology in education is establishing its place. Today the teacher is just the guide. In the past a teacher was the source of information, but today technology has changed that. A teacher’s job now is to facilitate the learning process and to facilitate in the best ways possible. Facilitation also includes regulating the use of technology inside and outside the classroom. Schools must develop proper after-school development activities for students. Don’t just offer sport programs but other programs such as art, dance, drama, debating, community service, after school trips to the community to further develop their understanding and help them grow to become better independent thinkers who can also work in collaboration.

While I may be an advocate of technology, I am also a firm believer that education should also be facilitated through various means.
We all have different abilities and capabilities. What appeals or works for one may not, for another, but to conclusively state that technology is negatively affecting our kids is wrong. To everything in life, there must be a balance and if we can effectively balance our use of technology in and outside of school, then I think we would have no issues.
The biggest issue with the doubts surrounding technology today is the lack of parents’ regulation of their kids’ use of technology.

Encourage creativity in children

Every child is born with the potential to be creative individuals, but their potential can be stifled if teachers and parents are not careful to nurture and stimulate creativity. Creativity shows one’s uniqueness. It is the individual saying that they are who they are, unique, individuals who can do. Isn’t this what we want for our children? Creativity is the ability to see things differently, to see problems that no one else may even realize exist, and then come up with new, unusual and effective solutions to these problems.

Adults are often amazed by young children’s unexpected cognizance of the world and the unique ways in which they express their imagination. We also know, however, that children usually need adult support to find the means and the confidence to express their ideas and present them, day after day, to teachers, parents, and friends. This digest considers both teacher-initiated and child-initiated strategies for enhancing young children’s self-expression and creativity.
The most creative of people are those who have the ability to switch easily between primary and secondary unconscious thought processes. Kids find this easier to do because their frontal lobes are less developed, as a child matures they are able to assess whether instinctual desires are a good idea or not, the rules and inhabitations begin to creep in.
Spontaneity and self-confidence are essential to a child’s creative spirit. Parents and teachers who choose to constantly control their children actually do more harm than good. Stop controlling kids! Allow them to think, allow them to be free, allow them to be kids. Creative expression is vital for development. If the product of creativity is not seen through then their creative energy is just waste. Allow them to be creative and follow through with their ideas. Kids need to know that it’s ok to make a mistake because that is how we learn. It is not always important to have the correct answer but innovation and unique ideas are very much valued. Like anything we do in our lives, we need the right atmosphere or it just would not feel the same, likewise, with our kids, they need an environment that would stimulate them, an environment that is creative, and friendly to them. Materials within the environment need to child-friendly and stimulating. Building blocks, books, pens, pencils, crayons and objects that they would be able to make sounds with are just a few examples.
Never stop a child from daydreaming! Many parents often make this mistake. Daydreaming is an imaginary process, some of what goes on in daydreaming is really just problem-solving.

Often parents think that they need to teach their children to first read and this is the wrong approach. Kids must first learn to imagine, they must learn to visualize and create their own understanding before they can even read.Don’t stifle creativity, promote it.If you, as a teacher or parent, truly believes that every child is different and is unique in their own way, then practice the belief by allowing creativity, allowing them to be kids.Don’t just say you things, mean it.Teach kids to look at alternatives, evaluate and then decide how to carry them out successfully. Stop overcrowding them with activities and orders with the thought that you will be cultivating their creativity, you are only holding them back. Allow your child some alone time so that they can develop the creativity that is within.

Educating parents on education

With education drastically changing, parents need to educate themselves on the different approaches to learning. These days many parents take it for granted that their kids are “angels” and are very smart. While their kids may actually be very smart, there may be reasons as to why their true potential is not being shown. Parents need to stop walking into schools and flaring up with teachers when they actually don’t know much about education itself.
If you are one of those arrogant types of parents who tell teachers that you “pay their salaries”, then please find a better school for your child, which 9 out of 10 times, this never happens. Parents do love to rant and rave when they know absolutely nothing about the system. They love to make threats and say that they would remove their kid from the school and move them to another. This never happens because they know that they put their kids in that particular school for a reason.
To me, parents who make such threats add no value to society.

It is sad to see school headmasters and heads of department just fall at the feet of parents and also turn around and blame teachers. Most schools do it.When a parent complains about a teacher, the principal is quick to call in the teacher and discipline them without finding out the issues from the teacher. Such stupidity by principals needs to stop. Parents need to stop blaming people for their lack of parental guidance over their children, as said before, many times over, your child is not who you think they are when they are away from you! Parents let that sink in!
Parents often like to say that the school does not know what its doing, let me ask parents this question. Do you even know what a school is supposed to be doing? It is very easy to sit and talk when you have no clue.I’m not saying that all parents should go and study education, all I’m saying is before screaming at teachers, before talking down about schools, perhaps try to understand what they are supposed to do and what are your rights of a parent, because only when you do this can you properly be a critic of a system.

What should parents know about schools?
Parents need to understand that many private schools operate as a business. Private schools at the end of the year first calculate their profits and losses then look at why they have made the losses they did, as like any other business, and in business terms it logical.However, you have to know but that alone that your child is not the first priority of the school. Private schools before spending any money would first look at how it benefits them financially before how it benefits their students. Is this a type of school you really want to send your kids to?
Public schools, on the other hand, are just outright sorry excuses for schools. Funded and run by the government, no stationary, lack of funding, overcrowded classrooms, teachers not properly trained and some schools don’t even have basics needed to run a classroom.

Not all private schools behave in this way, some actually do have their students’ best interest at heart which is shown through the year on their academic and social developments. Schools must put their students’ before anything.The continuous assessment must take place and must be done correctly. A true reflection of a student’s performance must be given to the parent. Many schools love to boast about their use of technology in the classroom, about how their school doesn’t use textbooks but rather uses tablets. While it all sounds fancy to the parent, the parent themselves are in most cases clueless about how it should work when it comes to using technology in the classroom effectively.

What should parents know about teachers?
Most importantly, teachers are not robots, teachers are not slaves and they do not work for parents. So parents, please stop assuming such things. Teachers are humans, and they do have lives outside of school! It always amazes me that when kids bring home their report cards are parents aren’t happy with what they see it automatically is the teachers fault and the next day they headed off to school to deal with the teacher who is “not doing their job”. Parents, you don’t know a teacher’s job so please educate yourself. Have you ever stopped to think that maybe your child is the issue, maybe your child is not paying attention? Maybe your child is not coping and needs a different strategy?

Parents are not always wrong but the way you handle certain things with teachers is disgusting. You need to first understand what teachers should be doing. You have every right to question a teacher, just do it respectfully and not in a way that makes a teacher feel inadequate.

A teacher is there to guide and facilitate your kids learning. When something goes wrong they supposed to immediately notify you and not wait for you to turn up at school. For example, if your child does not do their homework or project then they should be notifying you immediately and keeping a record of it.Your child is late to class or doesn’t show up at all should prompt a teacher to call you immediately and make a note of it.
If your child fails a test, what measures have they taken to improve the mark? Was there a retest? Were there any revision worksheets?
Such questions must be asked before playing the blame game. Maybe also ask, what’s going on at home that could be playing a negative role? Are you, as the parent, spending enough time with your child?

Parents you need to understand your role as parents. You must also understand how schools work, how curriculums work and most importantly understand that your child is not always the angel you think they are, trust me when they are away from you, they are anything but an angel. Take the time out to understand things from both sides. You have a right to question but do so after doing your homework. Research the schools, check up on their assessment methods and approaches to teaching and learning, check up on the extracurricular activities they have that will help you develop your child socially. Check up on what your kids are being taught, are they being dictated to or are they being developed with lifelong skills that will make them better global citizens?Are your kids being spoon fed or being encouraged to become critical thinkers?

Don’t just walk into schools to play the blame game!

 

SACE in a state of confusion

downloadThese days there seems to be confusion is regards to the definition of the word qualification. We must understand that this word, qualification may refer to both academia as well as practical qualifications (experience). We need to stop using the word as we please and use it according to the correct definitions. What qualifies a teacher to enter a classroom or even label them as such? Is it the paper they possess which states that they have completed a 3 or year diploma or degree? Is it the number of years’ experience or is it the level of competence?
When looking to analyze these questions we need to take into account that many people have very many different opinions on these questions and all opinions must be respected.

After a period of three to four years (depending on course duration) a student would receive a diploma/degree to certify that they have now successfully completed their modules of study and have passed and been awarded a diploma/degree to be able to go out into the real world and work as a teacher or a better word to use is an educator.
However, the newly graduated teacher enters looking for a job only to be told that they must be registered with a body known as SACE (South Africa Council for Educators) and receive a SACE number in order to practice as an educator. SACE seems to have become the all powerfull of education in South Africa, with nobody really understanding what they really do.
In many countries today, especially countries who are leading in education, their teachers are directly registered with the ministry of education in those countries, yet in South Africa, it does not happen like that.There must be a middle man- SACE.
The procedure to obtain a teachers license from SACE is one of the most questionable procedures currently.

To ellaborate, if you are a South African citizen applying you must personally go into the SACE office within your province and apply by filling out a pointless form, submit your ID along with qualifications and experience letters, note that this must all be South African ( if you are a South African applying for the license).Your teaching at schools, as well as experience letters, should all be from South African schools not overseas, however the SACE website does not specify this,To me this is ridiculous because any teaching experience from any school should be accepted provided the applicant submits official documents from the school they worked with, and right now, any teacher with international teaching experience should be accepted considering South Africa’s disastrous ranking in world education.
In addition to the submission of required documents, applicants must also pay a fee of R200 for South Africans and R400 for foreign educators with an annual levy of R120.

What has SACE really done since its opening? Professional development topics have no relation to what it needs to be.The SACE points program from 2014 is still in its pilot program which is evidently failing.Professional development needs to be based on what is happening global education.Effective classroom environments that work well.Understanding students of the 21st century rather than assuming topics that would work which has just failed.
In order for our education system to improve, in order for our teachers to thrive, we must pay attention to increasing the hours of professional development that both engaging and modern.We must stop focus on whether or not the Professional development course is accredited or not, but rather does it ad value to teachers and can it, in turn, reflect in students behavior and performance in class? We must stop being brainwashed by “accreditation”.It isn’t about points or certificates but about adding value.

How is SACE assessing teachers in order to award a teaching license? they are just taking for granted that a teacher is competent because they have studied a teaching program.This I feel is the biggest mistake they are making and it is because of this that we have so many issues in schools today.The department of education seems to be more interested in teachers compiling paperwork rather than whats really going on in the classroom.Paperwork needs to be forgotten, we live in the digital age now! Teachers need to spend their time enhancing their capabilities within the classroom and not on pointless paperwork.SACE needs to effectively evaluate teachers before issuing a license.They need to perhaps have newly graduated teachers, teach for at least a year and then have them apply for their license.The application for the license needs to be a rigorous one, their needs to be a portfolio of evidence submitted with the application in order to prove a teachers competence in order to qualify for the license.If a teacher fails to meet the criteria for the portfolio then they should revisit the sections they are facing difficulties in.Along with a portfolio of evidence should be an interview with the teacher.The process needs to be a logical one, not an illogical one just to make money.
It’s like obtaining a drivers license, I cannot just go into the driving school office and submit documents, pay my fees to wait a few weeks and then get my drivers license.There are logical processes and assessments in order to deem an applicant competent.Once all evaluative procedures are passed a license is issued.

We must understand that no matter how many degrees and certificates a person may accumulate over time, it does not necessarily equate to practical competence. What we mean by this is that when we look at the ministers of both education departments, and I still fail to understand why the department was broken down into two separate divisions as it makes no sense. Both ministers maybe well qualified for the job academically however they do not know what is going on in the classrooms. They would speak as if they know but they fail to really understand what is really going on because if they did there would be a substantial improvement already.It is and will always be the practical experience that proves to be more successful.

Those in power assume they know what’s going on however the sad reality of the situation is that they know nothing about what’s going on. They pass laws and policies according to the degrees they hold which are now outdated and by this, I mean that the content that is being taught at the B.Ed. level of study is terrible.I ask many new teachers to talk to me about the education systems in other countries and they just cannot do it.I ask them to talk to me about the different examination boards and different curriculums and they simply cannot answer me, I also ask many who study early childhood development to discuss the emerging and successful approaches to ECD and they cannot tell me about them. I ask about methods of differentiation and why are they not interested in using them and the answer I get is that these methods take up too much of the teachers time. Such an attitude is an attitude that must be done away with and can only be done at a tertiary level. The most shocking thing about my findings is that it is not only new teachers but also many experienced teachers.

Teacher training needs to be brought back immediately.We need to follow the systems of the most successful educational systems being Singapore and Finland.We need to follow the model of the IB Curriculum.We need to develop our students to become critical thinkers and not spoon fed.We need to enstil responsibility and independence into them.We must assist their social development in more meaningful ways and together with parents, we must encourage family time so that they may bong and experience the sense of togetherness which makes them less selfish and more caring.

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What is IELTS?

IELTS is the International English Language Testing System which is governed by the British Council, University of Cambridge and IDP: IELTS Australia. The test is to assess English language proficiency and conforms to the highest standards. The IELTS is taken by those who wish to live and work where English in the main language of communication. 

 

 

IELTS is made up of four components:  

Speaking, listening, reading and writing. Each has a band score of their own which is totaled at the end. A candidate is required to meet a specific total according to their desired countries requirements. IELTS is also separated into two different modules that candidates may choose from according to their needs. These two modules are the academic module and the general training module. The Speaking test may even take place a day or two later at some centers. 

IELTS Listening test lasts for about 30 minutes. It consists of four sections, played on a CD, in order of increasing difficulty. Each section might be a dialogue or a monologue. The test is only played once, and the questions for each section must be answered while listening, Time is given for students to check their answers 

IELTS Reading test lasts for 60 minutes. Students are given an Academic Reading test, or a General Training Reading test. Both tests consist of three sections, and in both tests the sections are in order of increasing difficulty. 

IELTS Writing test also lasts for 60 minutes. Again, students take either an Academic Module, or a General Training Module. Students must perform two writing tasks, which require different styles of writing. There is no choice of question topics. 

IELTS Speaking test consists of a one-to-one interview with a specially trained examiner. The interview is recorded and has three separate parts: 

An introduction and interview, an individual long turn where the candidate speaks for one or two minutes on a particular topic, and a two-way discussion thematically linked to the individual long turn. This interview will last for approximately 11-14 minutes. 

How are IELTS band scores calculated?  

Each skill (listening, reading, writing and speaking) is awarded a band scores. These scores range from 0-9 and you can also score a .5 for example, 6.5 or 8.5. Aside from a band score for each skill, you will also receive an overall band score. 

Below is an example of how the scoring works:  
Listening: 8
Reading:  7.5
Writing: 7
Speaking 7.5
Overall: 7.5 

With band scores, your scores can also be rounded up or down to the nearest .5 or whole number, example:  

  • If you get an overall score of 5.25 you will the move to a 5.5 score 
  • If you get an overall score of 6.75 you will then move up to a score of 7 
  • If your overall score is 5.1 then you will receive a total of 5

Listening and reading scores:
In a listening and reading test with a total of 40 points you are only scored on what you have got correct. Wrong answers are not scored. 

Writing Assessment:
The two tasks of the written assessment are assessed on the following four criteria
Fluency, Lexical resource, Grammar range and accuracy,  

Speaking assessment:
Speaking, like writing is assessed on the following:
Fluency, Lexical resource, Grammar range and accuracy, pronunciation.

It is strongly advised that one reads through the band descriptors clearly and has a thorough understanding of them.

 IELTS Band Descriptor

Bandscore Skill level Description
Band 9 Expert user You have a full operational command of the language. Your use of English is appropriate, accurate and fluent, and you show complete understanding.
Band 8 Very good user You have a fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriate usage. You may misunderstand some things in unfamiliar situations. You handle complex detailed argumentation well.
Band 7 Good user You have an operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally you handle complex language well and understand detailed reasoning.
Band 6 Competent user Generally you have an effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings. You can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.
Band 5 Modest user You have a partial command of the language, and cope with overall meaning in most situations, although you are likely to make many mistakes. You should be able to handle basic communication in your own field.
Band 4 Limited user Your basic competence is limited to familiar situations. You frequently show problems in understanding and expression. You are not able to use complex language.
Band 3 Extremely limited user You convey and understand only general meaning in very familiar situations. There are frequent breakdowns in communication.
Band 2 Intermittent user You have great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.
Band 1 Non-user You have no ability to use the language except a few isolated words.
Band 0 Did not attempt the test You did not answer the questions.

Project Based Learning (PBL)

Project Based Learning is a student centered pedagogy where by students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge is more about knowing and doing. Project based learning students take advantage of technology to produce high quality collaborative products.

Teachers are not in school to impose habits or ideas into kids but is there as a guide for the kid to be able to select influences that would best affect the child.

The core idea of project-based learning is that real-world problems capture students’ interest and provoke critical thinking as the students acquire and apply new knowledge in a problem-solving context. A teacher is the facilitator, who would work with students in their tasks to frame meaningful questions and together find solutions that they need answers to.

 

Projects are focused on student learning goals and include Essential Project Design Elements:

Key Knowledge, Understanding, and Success Skills – The project is focused on student learning goals, including standards-based content and skills such as critical thinking/problem solving, communication, collaboration, and self-management.

Challenging Problem or Question – The project is framed by a meaningful problem to solve or a question to answer, at the appropriate level of challenge.

Sustained Inquiry – Students engage in a rigorous, extended process of asking questions, finding resources, and applying information.

Authenticity – The project features real-world context, tasks and tools, quality standards, or impact – or speaks to students’ personal concerns, interests, and issues in their lives.

Student Voice & Choice – Students make some decisions about the project, including how they work and what they create.

Reflection – Students and teachers reflect on learning, the effectiveness of their inquiry and project activities, the quality of student work, obstacles and how to overcome them.

Critique & Revision – Students give, receive, and use feedback to improve their process and products.

Public Product – Students make their project work public by explaining, displaying and/or presenting it to people beyond the  classroom.

 

Early Childhood Development of today

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Montessori and Reggio
Looking for creative and colorful classrooms? Do a google search and you would find that your inspiration may come from either a Montessori or a Reggio school, which both would give you beautiful classrooms that are serene, filled with light and extraordinary.However, if you do another google search on the names mentioned, you would find, However, if you do another google search on the names mentioned, you would find yourself being left speechless with the amount of information being brought up. Information such as names in foreign languages, regions and a plethora of other research for each.All individuals who are considering the path of an early childhood development teacher MUST be familiar with the different educational philosophies for ECD. It helps guide you to understand the exact ECD path to follow. An individual wishing to start ECD should first do their own research and then look at the curriculum’s of various universities first, look for the methods that you are taught and then go on from there. In my opinion, if the universities do not cover all philosophies, you should look elsewhere.

So what are Montessori and Reggio schools about?

The Montessori approach
was founded in Rome- Italy by Dr.Maria Montessori in 1907.Her aim was to see an educational system that involved the whole child. Maria Montessori’s work became a global sensation and spread across the world. Anywhere you go today, they’ve got a Montessori school. The system groups kids into multi-aged groups to promote peer relationships and learning between the different ages. The Montessori approach believes that a child can naturally absorb knowledge from their surroundings and through exploration self-direct what they have learned. The curriculum is very much like today, with the very many subjects involved. The Montessori Method also focuses on observing a child. These observations are meant to guide the teacher on what to present next. Based on the observations, lessons and materials will be decided.

Reggio Emilia approach 
came about after world war 2.There was a desire for a new educational system. It took an Educational psychologist named Loris Malaguzzi to bring about the change with a new method to ECD. Founded in 1950, in an Italian city known as Reggio

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 Emilia. The main idea behind this approach is that the child should be an active participant in their education. There is no set curriculum as opposed to the Montessori Method. The curriculum moulds itself according to the child by their interests and responses. Malaguzzi collaborated with parents within the area to develop the new childcare. The Reggio approach focuses on documentation whereby a teacher documents both the work and words of the child, using everything from pencil and paper to audio and video equipment. The Reggio approach documents both the academic and social progress of a child.

In both methods students use their senses to explore and direct their learning, however in the Montessori approach students are free to choose from pre-planned activities to work independently and use movement. Montessori kids pace themselves and decide when to have a snack, and play with each other. In the Reggio approach, on the other hand, collaborative education is the main focus, any student can direct the learning, and using their many languages kids direct their curiosity and inspire lessons through questions and answers and questioning again. Students use the environment as the teacher and the teacher as their guidance.

The key to any successful system is the environment, in particular, the classroom which needs to be friendly welcoming and ready for learning. In the Montessori approach, the classrooms contain specific material that’s required and set up accordingly to allow students to choose how to use them. Instead of desks tables are put in place and is at eye level with the kids, in fact, everything is at eye level to accommodate the little ones and make things easy for them. This approach also allows for the use of the floor if they feel comfortable to learn on the floor rather than their tables, but keep in mind cleanliness is also a key factor in Montessori.
With the Reggio approach, the classroom is also very important. However here we find that teachers would set up different sized tables according to the different sizes of children in their classes. The Reggio approach is a very hand on approach and so we find that in Reggio classrooms the tables are different in textures and colors in order to inspire students more. Efforts are collaborative and documented throughout and as such on a walk around a Reggio classroom you will find displays of the children’s work. The idea of displaying their different works I actually like because it encourages them, and also allows for reflection which is important at any stage of development.

In both methods students do not take assessments or exams and are not graded, they work on a portfolio system where they are documented according to their levels of success and participation level. It must also be mentioned that while Montessori groups different age groups together, Reggio would group the same ages together as in a more traditional style. In a Reggio classroom, you will find that students will learn directly from their environment meaning that their environment is created to be an extension of the children’s world. Whereas in the Montessori approach there are age-specific tools of learning which are also self-correctable whereby if a child makes a mistake they can go back and correct the mistake.

For parents, the decision to send your child to a Reggio school or a Montessori school is a hard decision. However they both offer unique experiences, and both have their benefits and are similar in ways to the subtle differences that can lead you to make the decision that you need to make. The Reggio approach is a very collaborative method, parents are active in their child’s education, not just at home but are also invited to the school to be part of it. The Reggio approach to early education reflects a theoretical kinship to the ideology of constructivism. The Reggio approach, in my opinion, is a modern-day early childhood development.

For teachers, if your path is traditional, I would suggest going the Montessori way, but if you are a modern day teacher who, like me, believes that kids need to be kids, they learn to learn lifelong skills that they can actually use, that kids need to socially develop and become critical thinkers and should ask questions, then is suggest look at going the Reggio Emilia approach.

Reggio Emilia Approach to ECD

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An education philosophy based on the image of the child, and that of human beings processing strong potentials for development, and as a subject of rights who learns and grows in the relationship with others.The Reggio approach was developed after World War 2 in Italy by a young and inspirational teacher called Loris Malaguzzi.He promoted the idea of children as active participants in their own learning in a unique reciprocal relationship with their teachers. Learning is an active process and not a transmission of pre-packaged knowledge. Rather, the child has a hundred languages. Suggesting that children have multiple ways to express themselves.

100 Languages of children
What’s unique to the Reggio approach philosophy is the belief that there are 100 languages of children. Every child has 100 languages that they can learn in all of these forms of expression whether it’s by the use of clay, paper making, dance, drama, musical instruments and much more. Being Reggio inspired means that you have great faith in children.

In the Reggio approach, the educator is considered to be three things. Teacher, child and the environment. Teachers are given non-contact time to give them the chance to talk about the children and to be able to write their observations and plan what will be offered to the children next. The value and encourage child initiated activities, they challenge and provoke the ideas of the child. They allow the child to make his/her own mistakes learn from them. They closely observe children to document the child’s progress and to judge appropriate moments to intervene.
A Reggio school aims to create a welcoming, nurturing a home-like environment that’s recognized for its potential to inspire children. It is a place of encounter and connection, interaction, and dialogue. The Reggio teacher is a keen observer, documenter, and partner in the learning process. The teacher allows the children to make their own hypothesis, test their hypothesis and share what they’ve learned.
Documentation plays a critical part in children’s learning. Children revisit their ideas and get a new perspective. A teacher works on projects with small groups of children while the rest of the classroom continues to involve itself in other self – selected activities and explorations.

Reggio Provocations
Reggio inspired provocations are activities prepared by the teacher to extend the child’s way of thinking.These inspirations
provoke a child to use their senses, ask questions, solve problems and think further.

EXAMPLES OF REGGIO INSPIRED ENVIRONMENTS:

According to the Reggio approach, the environment is like the 3rd teacher. It must be inspiring with natural light, order, and beauty. Make sure to de-clutter your room and have clearly defined spaces. If you need to redefine your spaces make sure they respond to children’s interest.
An example would be chandeliers which are very common in Reggio inspired environments. They can be made out of recycled and natural materials as well as bits and pieces from around the house.

The curriculum should be fluid, emergent, dynamic and unique. It stems from the child’s own interests and curiosities.
The child is a researcher trying to answer the questions of life. Children learn documentation techniques that give them tools to express their ideas.
The school combines a lab and art studio in one for the developing and valuing the research process of the child. The classroom is designed to be aesthetically pleasing to the children. Teachers take great care to keep it organized and attractive. Natural lighting from large windows and open spaces give the environment a relaxed feel. Collaboration in such a process should be highly valued.

How to get started?
‘The wider range of possibilities we offer children, the more intense their motivations and the richer their experiences.” Loris Malaguzzi – Reggio Emilia founder.

Reggio Inspired Materials

Take a look around your classroom. Get rid of as many plastic materials as possible. Choose open-ended materials instead.Open-ended materials are the ones that can be transformed and that require the children to use their imagination and their own experiences.They must be natural, inviting, sensory and aesthetically pleasant.Use objects and materials children would find in their own homes.

Some examples of materials…
Loose parts, Mailing cardboard tubes, Playdough, Fabric scraps, Paper, Stones, Cotton Wool, Buttons, Beads, Bark, Corks, Elastic bands, Plastic figures.

Source: Nabeel Abed teacher development handbook: Reggio Emilia Approach to ECD

 

 

Injustice through education

The South African education system has just had some changes made to it and while I may support one or two of these laws, I am still very shocked that they are not seeing the big picture. I still am obviously shocked that SACE is still active.

One of the many new changes to the system is that teachers will now have to deal with at least 60 students in a class. How does a teacher who is newly qualified, untrained, and with no experience deal with such numbers in a class? Has the minister lost it completely? She apparently holds a master’s degree in education, however, looking at the current system and its rankings globally I must question the legitimacy of her qualifications.

Are they not seeing that the global trend of education is that classes are getting smaller, classes are now comprised of two teachers rather than one, technology plays an important role and of course there is no homework?
The idea to nationalize education and get rid of governing bodies is utterly ridiculous! Every school needs a governing body, it needs active role players and one of the key role players are the parents.
To be a successful educational system both parents and students need to play an active role in education. Unfortunately, parents do not understand education because when authorities speak about education they speak in a language that sounds completely foreign to parents. It is vital that parents understand completely what is going on in education, it is important for parents to understand that while a school using technology is the way to go, they also need to understand how this technology is being used, because till today many schools still do not use technology in the correct way.

Parents need to understand why homework is a thing of the past and does not work anymore. Homework, as mentioned, is a thing of the past; it does not work because it takes away the social development aspect of the child. Today’s generation of kids is far different than the generations before. Kids today need social interaction in order to develop. Students are in school all day, from as early as 7 am and end school at latest 4pm.They need time to relax, to bond with their families and not still come home to do more school work. They are already going to school to do this work, why do they need to still come home and d more?
One of many changes to the new amendments is that of homeschooling, It is still a very unclear topic among everybody and while there are some respected organizations doing their best to assist those who want to get involved in homeschooling, the government itself is still unclear about it.According to the constitution, every child has the right to an education and how they receive this education be it at a school or at home is entirely up to the parent and should remain as such. There should be no intervention. Parents can choose to go the IEB route or perhaps an international route such as Cambridge. It has to be left up to the parent!

The biggest issue for me with these new changes is that the biggest picture is being ignored! Relevancy to in-class teaching! While policies are important and there for a specific reason. We must also understand that what happens in class is equally important. Teachers need to be trained according to international standards. We cannot and should not be happy with being ranked as 91/95 globally for general education.SACE has done absolutely nothing in developing teachers. The process to obtain a SACE license is a joke. There is no method to assess a teacher’s level of competency. The SACE teacher development workshops need to focus more on topics of relevance and what is assumed.

Classrooms need to be built to accommodate students and not stuff them all into one class, we are not dealing with sardines, we are dealing with our children, our future!
No school has the right to turn away any student, if a parent is criminalized for denying their child a right to an education, then a school turning away a student should also be criminalized.

We need people of competence to make the decision and unfortunately right now partitions will not work, what needs to happen is that parents need to be educated thoroughly on what’s going on and parents need to take the stand. Educators will not succeed because the system pins them down. It is parents through proper training and education about the system, its changes and what it should be, who can actually make the difference right now.