Monthly Archives: November 2017

THE ROLE OF THE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS FOR TEACHERS WITHIN TRILINGUAL EDUCATION IMPLEMENTATION

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Many professional development programs were established aimed to improve the professional competence of teachers in order to develop their knowledge, skills which are in line with the requirements of the educational policies. Traditionally, teacher development is viewed as special and short-term events, including workshops, presentations, or courses that teachers follow during their career to update their professional competence (Birman et al., 2000). The successful fulfillment of the language-in-education policy directly depends on the competence of teachers. Professional competence of teachers plays an important role in their learning process and teaching practices.  All over the world, the value of education to the societal and individual success has gradually emerged as new economy which is based on knowledge. As a consequence, most countries have been engaged in intensive reforms of their education systems, and many have focused especially on improving teacher education, recognizing that preparing accomplished teachers who can effectively teach a wide array of learners to high standards is essential to economic and political survival.  For this reason, the Republic of Kazakhstan focuses on the development of the professional development programs of teachers as it is one of the key elements in the implementation of the trilingual policy.

Trilingual education is a key direction of the education system development in Kazakhstan. Based on the State program for the Development of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2016-2019, the training is implemented within the framework of trilingual education and its goal is to train professionals to teach subjects in schools in English from September 1, 2019 in grades 10-11 (MoES, 2016). Based on the language-in-education policy a number of qualified subject teachers should be increased. There is a need of teachers who are able to teach in English their subject. In case of Kazakhstan it is not easy as there is a lack of teachers who are proficient in English.  The lack of qualified subject teachers who can teach in English because STEM teachers don’t have knowledge of English and English teachers don’t have subject knowledge (as cited in Mehisto, Kambatyrova & Nurseitova, 2014).

For this reason, the government of Kazakhstan takes steps towards the development of the professional teachers training programs. Teachers of mainstream schools are trained by several professional development programs. In particular, subject teachers are being trained at the National Center for Professional Development “Orleu”, at the Centre of Excellence at Nazarbayev University, NIS schools. The focus of the research study will be the Centre of Excellence at Nazarbayev University which has trained 4068 secondary STEM teachers in 2017. The Education Excellence Center runs the PDP for secondary STEM teachers who work at secondary schools. This program is set under the trilingual policy implementation which aim is to improve STEM teachers’ competence of English.

In conclusion, I would like to say that it is important to focus on the PDPs for teachers as it helps to improve teachers’ knowledge skills. The nation building of each country is in the hands of educators. No matter how excellent is the infrastructure, curriculum, teachers are the ones who make the difference in education.

P.S. I was inspired to write this blog as the topic of my research study is “The effectiveness of PDP: STEM teachers’ views”.  If you have any comments, please feel free to write your comments….

References:

Birman, B.F., Desimone, L., Porter, A.C. & Garet, M.S. (2000). Designing professional development that works. Educational Leadership, May 2000, 28- 33.

MoES (Ministry of education and science in Republic of Kazakhstan). (2016). The State Programme for Development of Education and Science in the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2016–2019. Retrieved from: www.edu.gov.kz

Mehisto, P., Kambatyrova, A. & Nurseitova, Kh. (2014). Three in one? Trilingualism in policy and educational practice. In D. Bridges (Ed.), Educational reform and internationalization: the case of school reform in Kazakhstan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Some thoughts about Education in the New Era

Recently, I have read some books like 0 to 1; Principles and Work; and I have watched to the talk of Dr. Joe Dispenza; the BBC documentary Blue Planet and so on, these all lead me to rethink about the role of education for the young generation, that the traditional educational model seems no longer satisfy the need for innovation, creation and invention for the new era, which are crucial to balance the ecology, ethnographic, social and humanity chaos and exploitation of the world. The education for new era should enable people to be mindful and to reflect on their default mode of beliefs, thoughts and behaviors on one hand, and realize their distinctive potentials on the other hand.

Mindfulness, or in other words, the reflection of unconscious mind is particularly important as most of our behaviors and reactions are based on our thoughts and beliefs, which have been formulated under the influence of family and social environment throughout the growing period. As Dr. Joe Dispenza points out that after 35 years an individual performs like a computer with default programs which have been set by memorizations of genes, neurons and cells in body and mind. These thoughts, beliefs and automatic behaviors have constructed the personality which will ultimately create the personal reality. The mind is so powerful that we can rely on it to create the future if we can reflect on the unconsciousness, make our own choices and decide how to react and behave differently rather than driven by the default settings of old memories. Thus, the mindfulness should be incorporated in the education system not only for students but also for teachers and parents to reflect and be critical about their own unchecked thoughts, beliefs and automatic reactions as well as behaviors.

Apart from the mindfulness, the differences and distinction of individual students should also be taken into account that not all students are born to be academically oriented. However, in some contexts where the school culture is highly examination-oriented, students with low scores are categorized as intelligent, not hard-working and not capable learners. This can lead to the low self-esteem, loss in self confidence and loss of interest in learning of these students, who might be excellent in spheres other than academic subjects. Some initiatives to encourage the potential creativeness to be realized not waiting for completing the traditional schooling have been taken recent years; for instance, the project ’20 under 20’ of Peter Thiel has provided the funds to youth under 20 years old with potential successful business ideas and inventions. The traditional schooling has been questioned that how to keep up with the innovative pace of the world and create more freedom and space for the diversities talents of students.

To conclude, the education in this new era is facing the change and innovation the same as other traditional industries, and more attention are required to be paid on exploring and discovering the potential creativeness as well as wisdom of the human.

Back to the arguments on the usage of PowerPoints, is it bad or necessary?

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Participating in the IX NIS International Research-to –Practice Conference, I have noticed that PowerPoint presentations have become an integral part of scientific public speeches. Almost all of the conference speakers delivered their speech using the PowerPoint slides, and almost all of those slides followed the presenters’ speeches illustrating the essential information in them.  However, Chris Mcnab, one of the conference presenters, stood out from the crowd by delivering his one and half an hour speech titled “Is it good or does it work? The golden rules of quality and innovation” using only several pictures. Despite the speaker’s engaging tone and effective body language, without the typical PowerPoint presentation with lots of visual aids, as a listener, I found it quiet challenging to follow the speakers’ ideas and stay concentrated till the end of the long speech.  

To begin with, Chris Mcnab’s speech was very informative in terms of its content and consisted of several interesting points. For instance, the speaker’s main argument was about the importance of paying equal attention to both quality and innovation in publishing a book.  In addition, he also provided in-depth information on the challenges and tips of producing high quality books and ended his speech elaborating on the mixed responses to digital learning. However, without the visual support, the speech seemed to be disorganized, and as a listener, I found it quite difficult to see the interconnection between these arguments and ideas.  Overwhelmed by lots of information, towards the end of the speech, I lost the track of the presenter’s thoughts and was wondering why the speaker started talking about the negative effects of mobile phones.

On the other hand, I found the presenter’s usage of colorful pictures in explicating the meaning of the word “quality” very effective. Using the pictures of a pen, restaurant and IPhones the presenter explained that the high quality things should function properly, take into the account the consumer’s whole experience, and be personalized as in the examples of high quality pens, restaurants and phones.  Further, demonstrating the picture of his daughter, the presenter added that high quality books should take into the account their end-users and the context in which these books will be used.  In an hour and a half long speech, these four pictures served as effective tools to keep the audience’s interest.

 From this experience, I inferred that the PowerPoint presentations with relevant content that matches the speakers’ speech are necessary to guide the audience and keep the audience’s interest.  Notwithstanding the arguments against the usage of PowerPoints, it is hard to deny that when used appropriately they can make your speech more organized, engaging and memorable.

Photo credits to https://www.p2bi.com/p2binvestor-blog/how-to-become-a-strategic-cfo/

 

Multilingualism and society

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photo credits: https://www.euractiv.com/section/languages-culture/opinion/the-european-language-cloud-or-how-to-enable-a-multilingual-europe/

 

In our globalized world, nowadays, language diversity is a well-spread phenomenon which can be found in many societies. In one society or country, more than one language can exist officially or non-officially by making it multilingual. Apparently, there rise questions “what is the relationship between societies and multilingualism? What are the main reasons for the emergence of multilingualism in the society? What challenges and benefits multilingualism can bring to the society? In addition, our Kazakhstani society also is not out of the box since in our society there are more than one hundred nationalities and ethnic groups with their languages. Thus, in this blog, I will try to analyze the role of multilingualism in the society; its benefits and challenges as well as the reasons for its emergence.

Multilingualism is an umbrella term since different authors define it variously. However, the main definition, in relation to the society, can be the existence and the usage of more than two languages in the society.

In terms of the reasons for the spread of multilingualism, we can highlight globalization, historical and political changes, geography, and immigration. The well-spread reason is immigration of people from one place to another since they bring with themselves their languages which enrich the language diversity in the society.  Another reason for the development of multilingualism in the society can be the educational purposes. Education can be one of the reasons for the introduction of foreign languages which also contribute to the language diversity in the society. One clear example is the English language which is becoming the language of science and international communication. In our country, also the introduction of trilingual education is directly connected with the purpose to get access to the international science and education world through English.

Regarding the benefits and challenges of multilingualism, firstly, it will be beneficial for enhancing language repertoires of the members of the society. Moreover, through languages, people can get acquainted with the cultures of others which led to the social cohesion and mutual respect of each other. One more benefit is connected with economic conditions since the knowledge of several languages gives an opportunity to be competitive and in-demand in the labor market.  However, there are also some drawbacks of multilingualism such as the dominance of one language over another or the legal status of the languages.

Overall, multilingualism is the emerging phenomenon in our reality. The language diversity in the societies is constructed by several reasons starting from globalization and ending up with immigration. Moreover, it can be beneficial for one society, while, others treat it as a problem. However, I assume that its benefits overweight drawbacks. So, what do you think? Is the multilingualism an asset to the society or does it cause more problems?

 

Symbolic peculiarity of anxiety in education

Since my thesis is mainly devoted to exploration of language anxiety in classroom settings, I’ve been reading various literatures describing this type of emotion. And I would like to share some of my readings in order to see your responses to my questions and help you to complete your  8 comments. Enjoy my hopefully-easy-to-read-and-comment blog!

To begin, development of psychology as a separate branch of science takes relatively short period of time. In this sense, the study of anxiety in this area has “a long past, but only a short history” (Spielberger, 2013, p. 245). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders prepared by American Psychiatric Association (2013) indicates that “fear is the emotional response to real or perceived imminent threat, whereas anxiety is anticipation of future threat” (p. 189, italics added). In this sense, both emotional states are closely related to classroom situations. Fear of being involved in upcoming activities like speaking in front of a class, taking exam, and having a conversation with peers might trigger learner’s negative emotional state like anxiety. Spielberger (2013) identifies three characteristics of anxiety appraisals as follows: symbolic, anticipatory and uncertain. No time to describe all of them, so let’s get to the point: Continue reading Symbolic peculiarity of anxiety in education

Peer-orientation in schools

I have recently submitted speaking assignment 2 devoted to my experience of attending the 9th NIS international research-to-practice conference. While speaking about my general impression of the conference I also talked about the ideas of students’ peer-orientation and its implications in education introduced by Gordon Neufeld, a Canadian developmental psychologist. In this blog I would like to continue this topic and expand more on what teachers can do to prevent negative consequences of peer-orientation.

As I have previously explained peer-orientation is the process of children revolving around each other, or, in other words, the situation where students become more attached to their peers rather than their family members. The problem with peer-orientation is that being less attached to their families, that is a natural source of care, and instead orienting on their peers, children find themselves in a competing rather than caring environment. This environment makes the children more vulnerable to anxiety, suicide, frustration, drugs and bullying, which, in its turn, hinders academic achievement. Another significant implication for education is that no matter how good the teacher is, peer-oriented students tend to follow their peers instead of their teachers, and thus gain less from academic learning than they possibly could.

Neufeld argues that to prevent the negative consequences of peer-orientation and to establish the leading role of the teacher, student-teacher relationship should be cultivated. For this purpose, Neufeld suggests teachers to use his model of the primary instruments of attachment, which includes three concrete steps: collecting, bridging and matchmaking.

The first step is collecting, or establishing positive and friendly relationships with children. During the class, the teacher can collect students’ eyes and see that there is eye contact between the children and the teacher. Smiling and nodding is another technique used in collecting. The teacher starts to smile and nod to collect student smiles and nods in return. Special individual greetings are also of use during this stage. With shy students the psychologist suggests collecting ears, or to make sure that the students is connected to the teacher through listening to him or her.

Bridging is the technique used for maintaining the connection with students when separated with them. To make the students feel more secure and safe during the time the teacher and the students do not see each other, the teacher bridges the times of contact by saying when the students will see him or her. This is very close to what mothers do. They say: “I am always going to stay your mom” or “Will see you in the evening”.

Finally, matchmaking is establishing new connections using the ones you already have. Teachers can connect students to students, teachers to teachers, parents to students, parents to teachers or vice versa.

The argument here is that using these three simple steps allows teachers to improve the learning environment for the children and, by doing so, make the learning process more productive.

What do you think of the idea of peer-orientation and the techniques to combat its negative impact on students’ learning abilities? Do you agree that competitive environment is destructive or are you in the opposite camp seeing the competition as the driver of the progress? How important is teacher-student relationship in your eyes?

Photo credits to: http://www.vibs.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/children-600×400.jpg

 

 

 

Accountability matters

Nazarbayev Intellectual School International Research-to-Practice Conference created academic environment where presenters and participants could exchange ideas on various education topics. One of the most inspiring sessions for me was UNESCO Report presented by Katarzyna Kubacka. Presenter devoted considerable attention to the notion of accountability. Before attending this seminar I did not have a clear view of this notion. Katarzyna highlighted in her speech that accountability can be used to solve different problems in education. Government, teachers, parents, students, international organizations and private sector all can influence and change education system. All of them can effectively work together and all of them have a role to play. Since accountability is mostly linked to the individual institutions, each of the above mentioned stakeholders is accountable for a particular area in education. Stakeholders can fix problems within one specific field; however they cannot be accountable for things that are beyond their control.

Katarzyna Kubacka outlined that sometimes key stakeholders try to avoid accountability. For instance, it happens when government transfer accountability for education failures on teachers. Thus, it often happens that teachers are solely blamed for students’ poor learning outcomes. I think, that in some cases teachers are asked to be accountable for things that they cannot fully control. As O’Neill (2013) pointed out in his article “Intelligent accountability in education” authorities often make teachers accountable for “bogus units of measurement” in students’ assessment (p. 14). Author also highlighted that it is meaningless to require teachers for reporting back on all kind of assessment, because not everything in education system can be measured. Accountability first of all should be aimed at achieving a quality equitable education for all. Moreover it should stimulate the progress of education. Since accountability cannot be shared, every stakeholder can be accountable only for a particular part of the common work. At the same time they should work in collaboration to improve functioning of education system.

Refrences:

Photo credit to https://bustin.com/executive-leadership-blog/how-to-create-clarity-confidence-and-accountability/

O’Neill, O. (2013). Intelligent accountability in education. Oxford Review of Education, 39(1), 4–16. https://doi.org/10.1080/03054985.2013.764761

My thoughts about the conference …

Conference is considered to be a platform where people are expected to meet and discuss a particular topic. However, it is not limited to that only; conference meetings possess multidimensional benefits such as exchanging and learning new experiences and practices, sharing ideas, creating networking between specialists, immense potential for students and, most of all, conference serves as inspiration and motivation for many people. However, such factors as general organization, the content and the quality of sessions can impact the successful arrangement of a conference. So I will explicate such drawbacks below from the example of the conference that I have recently attended, and suggest some tips for conference goers based on my experience.

First and foremost, the aspects of a successful conference are the quality of sessions and the delivery of content to audience. People choose certain sessions not to spend their time for nothing, they consciously select from various topics in order to learn something valuable, so they can share with colleagues or realize it in practice. Thus, presenters should keep in mind these things when they prepare their presentations. Regarding my impression about the speakers of the session, whose presentations I attended, overall, it was quite different than I had expected. All the three speakers were aged assistant professors from two local and one from Russian universities. I chose this session, since one topic seemed relevant to my thesis topic, however, they provided the information that I already know or can read from a book, and no citation was provided. As for the overall presentations, they were full of slides with lots of listing, wording without any outline, purpose and connection.

The organization should be evaluated in accordance with the time management, namely the time shown in the program should be strictly followed. So, I noticed poor time management in the conference that I visited where quests and presenters started to feel worried, uncomfortable and nervous from the beginning. Despite the fact that the start time was announced twice, it did not start on time which in turn influenced the period allocated for coffee break, consequently, the first break out session started late and the time was not left for questions to presenters.

To sum up, despite of some positive aspects that occurred in the conference towards organization, the quality of sessions, and facilities provided, shortcomings present as well; this can be overcome next year considering the recommendations, paying special attention to the quality of the research in the selection process.  In addition, I would suggest choosing the sessions where international speakers present rather than locals; if no time left for questions to speakers, ask for their emails so you can contact them.

Artificial use of artificial intelligence

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_intelligence

We are familiar with the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in our everyday life: smart cars, video games, movie recommendation services and many others (more examples are here). But some countries, like UAE, go even further. It is the first country to introduce the position of the Minister of Artificial Intelligence. Moreover, Emirates introduce AI technologies into the classrooms with the use of advanced software and robots. The speed of technology development and implementation in education is impressive but can teachers keep pace with it?

On one of the recent conferences, Andrew Nolan from GEMS Education surprised the public with the variety of software and hardware used for schooling in Dubai:  Microsoft Imagine Academy, Microsoft Azure cognitive services, IBM Watson, Singularity University, Kinteract; Learnometer that optimizes the classroom environment for better learning; even the robot which in near future will take most of the administrative work and give teachers more time to work with children. This variety of resources allows the development of competencies needed for the 21 century and really shows how valuable technology is going to be in the modern world.

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(Screenshot from a movie “I, Robot” by Alex Proyas)

Although it all sounds fun I was feeling lost in such a variety of technologies. It is like I am in the rally and everybody uses GPS navigator to keep moving and I am looking for breadcrumbs on the ground (credits to Brothers Grimm). So I was wondering if I am so lost in the technology development how are teachers capable of advancing their computer literacy so fast in UAE? I mean, in-service teachers. Are they get trained every half a year? Do they have IT support teams or assistants at schools? Trying to answer all these questions I found the results of the survey of 100 UAE educators which was conducted in April 2017 and revealed that: 

38 per cent of educators do not have the training to integrate technology into the way they teach, while 48 per cent of educators blamed a lack of access to available technology as the reasons for not using ICTs in classrooms. A further 42 per cent of educators said they lack the time to learn how to integrate technology into teaching” 

This data demonstrates that even though it is claimed that advanced technology is widely used in the classroom, not all the teachers have enough skills to realize its full potential. Also, they do not have enough time to explore programs features or even lack the software itself. The sampling is quite small and may not be representative of all the teachers in the country but still provides us with some context of UAE teachers.    

Based on the results of the survey, not only Artificial Intelligence implementation is important but also Natural Intelligence appropriate training. Teachers need support and time to learn new things just as their students. And all brand new shiny machines do not make any difference if teachers do not know what to do with them.

P.S. Additional interesting fact about UAE Ministries is that they have 3 Ministers in the field of education: Minister of Education, Minister of State for Public Education, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills. In Kazakhstan, there is only one: the Minister of Education and Science. Whether such division of responsibilities is beneficial to the quality of education or not is a good area for research.

 

A note on keynote speakers @ NIS Con

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(This photo is not actually from the NIS Conference; it’s Nick Clegg not engaging with his audience at the UK LibDem’s 2014 Conference. Source: Guido Fawkes)

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a conference. I wasn’t fortunate to attend too many presentations, but I caught the main plenary sessions with distinguished guests from abroad. I felt quite impressed while I was there, and this impression probably lasted a few days. But if you asked me now, I wouldn’t be able to say what was so good about it. The glossy building… Big fancy ideas… Flashy slide shows and yellow socks… Was I fooled into believing that something important was taking place? I think I was. I think a good chance for an important and meaningful conversation about the state of education was wasted on what essentially amounted to a marketing campaign for NIS itself and the keynote speakers.

Continue reading A note on keynote speakers @ NIS Con