All posts by shynarchiq

About shynarchiq

queen of blogging

What kind of bird are you?

I am a young teacher. With only three incomplete years of professional experience, I would compare myself with an unfeathered chicken that just came into the world of hawks, falcons and owls. My young teaching age did not prevent me from working in different collegial circles of more experienced “birds”, though. Some preferred to “hunt” alone; others united in small flocks. Some deigned to assist with problems; others chose to do little. In either case, the way, in which these birds selected to work, did not leave me unaffected. In this post, I would like to share my understanding of how working in different teacher cultures influences the professional experience.

When entering the school for the first time, you can always feel it: a strong smell of wood and paint, a nimble sunbeam on the wall, loud voices of first-graders in the hall… Each school has its unique atmosphere where teachers play major role. In fact, they build their own teaching culture which significantly influences the atmosphere in schools (Peterson, 1994). Hargreaves (1995) describes teaching culture as “beliefs, values, habits and assumed ways of doing things among communities of teachers”  (p. 165). As a rule, the teachers, especially in their early careers, perceive teaching culture as a medium which gives meaning to what, how and why they do things.

School cultures differ considerably. Hargreaves (1995) distinguished four major types of teacher cultures.

  1. Individualism

Despite being surrounded by different people within school community, the teachers are highly exposed to the work in isolation. Many of them find individual work acceptable and even desirable. Individualism becomes a matter of considerable concern, when solitude becomes indispensable part of teacher’s professional life. The teacher preferring separateness to company could be compared to a thrush in the world of birds.

http://allforchildren.ru/birds/bird04.php
http://allforchildren.ru/birds/bird04.php
  1. Balkanization

However unusual the word “balkanization” might sound, it, in fact, is quite common in Kazakhstani schools. Teachers work neither in isolation, nor collaboratively with most of their colleagues. Instead, they choose to work in small groups according to their departments, qualifications and personal preferences. The primary teachers having lunch separately from secondary school teachers could be one of the examples. The balkanized school culture may have a negative impact on learners’ achievement since the teachers do not work in collaboration to identify students’ strengths and weaknesses. These teachers represent kinglets who like dividing in small groups.

http://forum.awd.ru/viewtopic.php?f=831&t=187750
http://forum.awd.ru/viewtopic.php?f=831&t=187750
  1. Contrived collegiality

In this type of teaching culture the teachers work jointly: they plan together and team-teach. A distinctive feature of contrived collegiality is that the relationships are enforced by formal administrative regulations. The prescribed nature of this culture does not promote inner desire to collaborate. Such relationships are implementation-driven, superficial and unnatural. Teachers staying together mostly because of the environmental conditions are like penguins who have to group to warm one another.

http://animalsadda.com/adelie-penguin/
http://animalsadda.com/adelie-penguin/
  1. Collaboration

As its name suggests, collaboration encourages the people to work collaboratively and jointly. It is positively associated with school efficiency and quality of teaching. This type of collegial culture is the most desirable in schools as it stimulates teachers to learn from each other, share and develop on a voluntary basis. In a real collaborative culture there is no competition for principal’s love and recognition, but there is desire to improve for the better; there is no guilt and constraints, but there is will and power; there are no gossips, but there is a dialogue. Of, course it does not develop overnight. This is a long and uneasy in implementation process. This group of teachers are like long-tailed tits among birds.

http://webmandry.com/raznoe/priroda/ptitsa-sinitsa-dlinnohvostaya-ili-opolovnik-opisanie-kak-vyglyadit-sinitsa-dlinnohvostaya-foto.html
http://webmandry.com/raznoe/priroda/ptitsa-sinitsa-dlinnohvostaya-ili-opolovnik-opisanie-kak-vyglyadit-sinitsa-dlinnohvostaya-foto.html

Just like the forest with various flocks of birds living in it, one school may comprise several elements depending on characteristics of teacher population. Therefore, it would be wrong to assume that collaborative culture should be promoted in isolation from other constituents of teaching culture. Instead, it is of vital importance to identify and promote the magic set and proportions of each type to promote a successful school operation.

True to myself, as always I am dying to know your opinions. What kind of bird are you? What is the teaching culture in our school like? What is the best proportion of teaching culture components for an “ideal” school?

P.S.: I apologize for the possible misuse of some birds’ actual role. Forgive me, ornithologists of the whole world! No birds were harmed in writing this post.

References:

Hargreaves, A. (1995). Changing teachers, changing times: Teachers’ work and culture in the postmodern. London: Cassell.

Peterson, K. (1994). NCREL monograph: Building collaborative cultures: Seeking ways to reshape urban schools. NCREL’s Urban Education Monograph Series.

The status of Kazakh language or “Қазақша неге сөйлемейсің?”

http://www.yaplakal.com/forum3/st/25/topic943858.html
http://www.yaplakal.com/forum3/st/25/topic943858.html

At first glance, a taxi driver, a greengrocer and an old man may appear like having nothing in common. But to someone like me, all of these people fall under the category of completely unknown strangers whose hobby is asking questions and moralizing. “Қазақша неге сөйлемейсің? Нағыз қазақсың ба немесе шала қазақсың ба?” is one of their typical phrases. The thing is that being an ethnic Kazakh and at the same time a very poor language user, I am commonly referred to as shala-Kazakhs. As far as you can understand, language issues is one of the favorite conversation topics of taxi drivers, greengrocers and old men. I became interested in that topic too. Why can’t I speak Kazakh? Let’s try to answer this questions together!

Kazakhstan is not the only country in Central Asia which was colonized by Russian empire. However, it is the only conquered country where the titular nation was an ethnic minority which adopted Russian language as its own. The greatness of Russian language was universally celebrated. Through massive propaganda held in religious institutions, workplaces and schools Russian language became a sign of a high intelligence, better job perspectives, improved social status and prestige. It displaced Kazakh from many spheres, such as science, press and military and became the main predictor of social success. The most influential place was school where Russian was the dominant medium of instruction in schools and the tool controlling intellectual life (Fierman, 2006). Perceiving Russian as “elder brothers”, rural Kazakhs aspired to the cosmopolitan, urban way of life led by Russians and wishing the same for their children sent them to Russian schools. Kazakhs became russified. It causes no surprise native language, associated with poverty and backwardness, lost its value, prestige and cultural meaning.

Everything changed with independence. The significant efforts and resources have been invested to the restoration of mother tongue since 1991. The promotion of positive birth rate of Kazakh population, the repatriation of Kazakh diaspora to Russian-dominant northern and eastern regions, and even the relocation of capital from southern Almaty to northern Astana were unanimously reported as key attempts to place more emphasis on Kazakh language (Fierman, 2006; Kuzhabekova, 2003; Matuszkiewicz, 2010; Smagulova, 2006; 2008). The endeavors to enhance the status of the language could be met more frequently in the names of the streets and villages, in newspapers and Internet, on the billboards and road signs, on TV channels and radio waves.

Yet, not all of those attempts were faced enthusiastically. Even though there exists a general agreement on the softness of the policy in ethnicity with few incentives and sanctions (Fierman, 2006; Kuzhabekova, 2003; Smagulova, 2008), the reinforcement of Kazakh was perceived by non-Kazakh population as the coercive weakening of Russian language (Matuszkiewicz, 2010). This created the possibility of an unsafe situation which could result in manifestation of interethnic tension and social conflicts.

Coupled with that, for a large group of people including native Kazakhs, Russian remains the dominant language of communication in politics, economics, mass media, press and education. It is “de jure and de facto an official language of Kazakhstan” for them (Smagulova, 2008, p.454). The answer to “Қазақша неге сөйлемейсің?” is obvious. A substantial proportion of younger and elder generation does not speak Kazakh because their parents did not teach them; because they were born and grew up in Russian-speaking environment; because they attended Russian-medium schools; because the information and content they use is mostly available in Russian and English; or simply because they are afraid of blame and disapproval for their Russian accent.

Many people believe judgment, skepticism, arrogance and morals still work. In fact, they do not. Being Shala-Kazakhs is not a personal preference; it is the “heritage” of the past. That is not to say the society owes something to people with the limited knowledge of own mother tongue. It is that shala-Kazakh’s responsibility to raise the knowledge of own language by attending the courses, communicating with people and teaching own children to speak Kazakh. Mutual support and tolerance are becoming increasingly important for all both Kazakh and Russian-speaking population. Without rediscovery of our own roots we risk to lose or heritage and national identity.

As I hear the stones flying at me, I encourage you to look through this thought-provoking Voxpopuli article providing the opinions and beliefs of shala-Kazakhs and freely express your opinions about them and your perception of the Kazakh language status.

References:

Fierman, W. (2006). Language and education in post‐Soviet Kazakhstan: Kazakh‐medium instruction in urban schools. The Russian Review65(1), 98-116.

Kuzhabekova A. (2003). Language policies in independent Kazakhstan: the Kazakh-Russian dilemma. Linguistic changes in post-communist Eastern Europe and Eurasia, 18(2), 161-184.

Matuszkiewicz, R. (2010). The language issue in Kazakhstan-institutionalizing new ethnic relations after Independence. Economic and Environmental Studies,10(2), 211-227.

Smagulova, J. (2006). KAZAKHSTAN: Language, identity and conflict 1.Innovation19(3-4), 303-320.

Smagulova, J. (2008). Language policies of kazakhization and their influence on language attitudes and use. International journal of bilingual education and bilingualism11(3-4), 440-475.

Personalization matters: Adjusting learning to students’ interests and needs. Practice.

http-::blog.wowzers.com:5-key-elements-of-a-personalized-learning-environment
http-//blog.wowzers.com/5-key-elements-of-a-personalized-learning-environment

In the previous post I wrote about the power of personalized learning. In a nutshell, this is the cultivation of leaners’ skills and abilities through the awareness of their interests and needs (Yonezawa, McClure, & Jones, 2012). Because of typical challenges such as large classes, change of teachers’ beliefs and substantial preparation time, personalization may appear like rather hard to incorporate in one’s lessons. However, your teaching style may inadvertently comprise many of the interest-based practices and personalized tactics. All you need to is to adapt and develop them according to your students’ needs. Below are the informal strategies I usually practice with my students to stimulate personalized learning.

  1. Call students by their names.

To students there is nothing more obnoxious than the teacher who does not differentiate the students by their names or regularly confuses them with the others (Bruner, 1966). Referring to learners by their names is a very helpful way to initiate friendly, respective relationships in which students feel recognized and valued as individuals. If the students’ names are unusual or difficult to remember, from the very beginning try using simple things like name tags, associations and photo posters.

  1. Know your students’ interests and needs.

“One size does not fit all” is the principal feature of personalized learning (Yonezawa, McClure, & Jones, 2012, p. 68). Delivering new information in a way relevant to each student significantly facilitates knowledge acquisition. Therefore, try to always stay informed. Learn as much as possible about your students’ preferences and current trends. You may use immediate feedback on the lessons as well as purposefully designed questionnaires to gather information, which will later be used as a foundation for more personalized lessons.

  1. Use adequate amount of group work.

In large classes the personalized approach may become unmanageable. To deal with this challenge, the teachers should use group work, uniting students according to their interests and the lesson objectives. The key point here is to constantly mingle students and change the group size. In such situations, collaborative learning may become beneficial for increasing concentration of the students and their communicative competence.

  1. Embrace technology.

Now technology is everywhere. Your students are quite likely to be very competent in using new gadgets and devices for various purposes. Why instead of rejecting and prohibiting not to embrace technologies? Delivering instruction through various forms of media may considerably increase leaners’ engagement, collaborative participation, interest in your subject, frequent interaction and feedback. Are you tired of girls constantly taking selfies? Suggest a contest on the most unusual selfie where students can practice their presenting skills. Different variations may include recording videos, starting own blog on the web and even using e-dictionary instead of its hard copy.

  1. Provide students with options.

Rigid way of teaching seriously reduces student motivation and engagement. When having no freedom of choice, the learners may totally lose their interest to the subject. Consequently, giving students options can be very beneficial. This raises the sense of personal control and learning ownership. For example, your students may select to write a 300-word piece of academic writing about racial segregation or to do a small-scale Interned-based research and presentation on the same topic.

Considerate teachers personalize learning — calling students by their names, knowing about their interests and differentiating lessons for them. Some may prefer to go further and design own materials and activities suitable for students needs. Personalization can definitely become a powerful tool of student transformation in the hands of thoughtful educators.

References:

Bruner, J. S. (1966). Toward a theory of instruction. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Yonezawa, S., McClure, L., & Jones, M. (2012). Personalization in schools. Boston, MA: Jobs for the Future, 42.

Personalization matters: Adjustment of learning to students’ interests and needs. Theory.

http://venspired.com/personalized-learning-with-a-passionate-group/

To the teacher unaware of personalization, the students may seem like nothing more than a group of pupils of the same age and grade. That teacher’s strategies are quite likely to be limited to one-size-fits-all approach. But to those knowledgeable about the power of personalized learning, each student is the entire world full of discoveries. Obviously, personalization is vital inasmuch as all students are different in the ways they learn.

Prior to discussing personalized learning approach in more details it is prudent to clearly identify it. Personalized Learning Foundation (2012) defined it as:

learning approaches [which] focus on strengthening the student learning process by encouraging students to actively participate in fostering a strong learning environment, strengthening relationships with adult stakeholders, becoming aware of their individual learning needs, and identifying and applying learning strategies that work best for them (p. 5).

To put it simply, it is the method that targets active student involvement by making education interesting and relevant to their personal lives. Highlighting the implication of teacher-student relationship, positive rapport between different stakeholders and individual emotional well-being, personalization shares widely supported tenets of student-centered approach (Yonezawa, McClure & Jones, 2012). The awareness of not only learning styles and capacities, but also their unique interests and needs lies at the heart of individualized learning. This implies the ongoing adjustment of lesson plans and flexibility of one’s teaching style in pursuit of learning strategies able to connect students to the real world.

There is substantial evidence suggesting the incorporation of personalized learning strategies has more benefits than drawbacks. The proponents often argue in favor of this approach by holding education with non-differentiated practices as an example. When new information is presented abstractly, there is a high risk of undermining intrinsic motivation (Yonezawa, McClure & Jones, 2012). Further, such removal of learning out of the context combined with lack of personal approach may result in chronic motivational deficits. In the experiment conducted in late 1996 with 72 participants and specially designed computer games, Cordova & Lepper revealed that children involved in meaningless isolated learning activities with few personalized tasks tailored to their interests showed significantly poorer results in engagement and sustained motivation. In such context, behavioral and academic problems may hamper successful learning. On the other hand, personalization allied to contextualized learning and relative freedom of choice produced dramatic increases “not only in students’ motivation but also in their depth of engagement in learning, the amount they learned in a fixed time period, and their perceived competence” (Cordova & Lepper, 1996, p. 715).

Despite all the obvious benefits of tailored learning, it cannot be embedded into curriculum and system of education by the wave of the hand. Calling the shift from traditional to personalized education easy and effortless would be at least presumptuous. Even complementing traditional teaching with the key elements of personalization is a challenging task requiring significant financial, social and personal investments. It is noteworthy to mention the issue of large classes with different skills and needs. Designing and developing instructional materials satisfying individual needs of every student is difficult and time-consuming. Even when adopted as central belief in teaching, personalization of learning is extremely difficult to practice daily, especially at early stages. Reorientation of the beliefs held over years of professional practice is highly challenging. Instructional change needs years of practice and constant work on own teaching habits. Under these conditions, the discussion of the instant adoption of personalized approach to each student is rather premature.

Thus, it is important for educators not to fall into the trap of assuming transition to personalized learning is smooth. This is a complex process requiring additional investigation, supplementary funding and attitude change. These measures will help to realistically determine which strategies work while trying to personalize learning. Undoubtedly, personalization is crucial. People usually learn better when they connect new knowledge to their personal lives. Although it may seem complicated, there are several ways for teachers to start integrating personalized activities in the lessons. In the next post I will share several simple strategies I personally use to bring my students closer to their learning.

References:

Cordova, D. I., & Lepper, M. R. (1996). Intrinsic motivation and the process of learning: Beneficial effects of contextualization, personalization, and choice. Journal of educational psychology88(4), 715.

The Personalized Learning Foundation (2012). Retrieved from: http://personalizedlearningfoundation.org/id3.html.

Yonezawa, S., McClure, L., & Jones, M. (2012). Personalization in schools. Boston, MA: Jobs for the Future, 42.

Get married or die trying? The adventures of educated females in and out of marriage through the thorns of gender expectations

I dedicate this post to all the single ladies.

http://www.vectorstock.com/royalty-free-vector/wedding-cartoon-vector-577164
http://www.vectorstock.com/royalty-free-vector/wedding-cartoon-vector-577164

Guess what is the most popular question among my relatives and friends? If your guess is connected to something like “How is it going?”, “How is your study?”, “When do you think the following tenge’s fall will take place?” or “Are you waiting for the next Game of Thrones season?”, I have a bad news for you. They are dying to know just one thing: whether I am going to get married.

I turned 25 this January, and it feels like every year of my life inevitably increases the frequency of asking such questions. From many of my friends, I know I am not the only person experiencing an elevated interest in my personal life. So, I became interested in the issues of education, gender expectations and personal choice for marriage. The post aims to answer these key questions: Why is marriage important? What is the role of woman in education? and What is the link between education and marriage?

Every girl has at least once in her life imagined her dream wedding. This happens for a reason. From early childhood, humans are naturally programmed to strive for a peaceful coexistence with the representatives of opposite gender (Blossfeld & Huinink, 1991). Marital union is advantageous in terms of mental and physical well-being – married people live longer and better. Also, they are less likely to experience loneliness and lack of support, especially in their old age. Two common forms of marriage are traditional and egalitarian (Blossfeld, & Huinink, 1991). As can be expected, in traditional marriages the husband takes the role of the main breadwinner and his wife is responsible for household and child rearing, whereas egalitarian unions suggest equal distribution of roles and employment opportunities between the husband and wife.

Throughout the history, gender roles in marriage have shifted dramatically due to cultural, economic, political and educational changes. With these transformations, the issues of providing equal access to education irrespective of gender emerged. Phillips & Schweisfurth (2008) in their book on Comparative and International education maintain that better-educated females increase the share of educated and healthy population, reduce infant and maternal mortality rates, minimize domestic violence and change political situation through active participation. Since education has become a sign of achievement, there appeared to be a positive association between marriage and education.

“Marriage is increasingly becoming the privilege of the better-educated and better-educated marry later”(p.1499) – here is an opening proposition of Kalmijn (2013). In a study of educational gradient in marriage, he discovers that in countries with traditional marriages, the better-educated women are less likely to get married, at least at younger age. The males there prefer to get married early to more religious females, whilst women who pursue study and careers usually have less time for relationships. In contrast, the men in gender-egalitarian countries favor better-educated, more successful women with higher expectations. What is more, the findings demonstrated the wealthiest people in Europe and North America are married to the teachers!

Of course, better-educated females did not escape skeptical attention and criticism. More intelligent women are predisposed to experience more stress because of intrapersonal family-career conflict (England & Farkas, 1986). When education is an essential part of life, later it is often replaced by career. In this sense, education and career impact emotional well-being of women who face challenges in balancing personal and professional lives. Additionally, accomplished education ensures competitive salaries thus making females the main breadwinners, especially with less-educated husbands (Phillips & Schweisfurth, 2008). This scenario of shifting gender expectations with intellectual incongruence typically ends up with divorce and separation. At last, education is argued to devaluate motherhood. Better-educated women are usually accused of having fewer children and spending less time with them (Blossfeld & Huinink, 1991). The children whose mothers are more educated might have better educational opportunities and further career perspectives, yet their mothers’ education may also negatively reflect in their affiliation and relationships. In contrast, other women, who prefer not to continue their education limiting it to school certificates and undergraduate degrees, dedicate most of their free time to upbringing of their children.

Given these points it can be noted that education and pursuit of career seriously reduce marital chances in traditional countries where gender roles are segregated, while in more egalitarian countries education definitely benefits potential brides. Do not despair, though! Of course, I am not the most reliable person to refer to, as I am neither married, nor fully educated yet. Nonetheless, I took the liberty to share my humble opinion in the form of personal recommendations. Here are my propositions:

  1. Study as long as you find it necessary, but do not forget to look around otherwise you risk to miss your well-educated match.
  2. Love when you are ready, not lonely. The same is true about marriage. Look for your other half primarily relying on yourself instead of trying to correspond to social expectations and patterns.
  3. Only you yourself identify your priorities. Whatever you choose to do first, do it consistent with your interests and feelings. If the study happened to come first, do not lose your hope. Perhaps, your millionaire is waiting for you around the corner.

Married and single, males and females, I hope to read you opinions as well: What is marriage for you? How does education affect your vision of relationships? What is your attitude towards hardships of cultural and social expectations?

References

Blossfeld, H. P., & Huinink, J. (1991). Human capital investments or norms of role transition: How women’s schooling and career affect the process of family formation. The American Journal of Sociology, 97, 143–168.

England, P., & Farkas, G. (1986). Households, employment, and gender: A social, economic, and demographic view. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

Kalmijn, M. (2013). The Educational Gradient in Marriage: A Comparison of 25 European Countries. Demography, 50(4), 1499-1520. doi:10.1007/s13524-013-0229-x

Phillips, D., & Schweisfurth, M. (2008). Comparative and international education: An introduction to theory, method, and practice. Continuum

Sex roles/gender roles. (2002). In The new dictionary of cultural literacy, Houghton Mifflin. Retrieved from http://literati.credoreference.com/content/entry/hmndcl/sex_roles_gender_roles/0

A perfect teacher in cinematography and not only

http://spongebob.wikia.com/wiki/File:Mrs._Puff_(No_Free_Rides).jpg
http://spongebob.wikia.com/wiki/File:Mrs._Puff_(No_Free_Rides).jpg

Who is the most annoying teacher in your life? It could be an old Math lady who never explained in a way appropriate for your understanding, the language teacher who made the subject monotonous by boring reading and writing tasks or the Physical education teacher who always placed you in a weak team. Whenever the issues of inefficient teaching are being addressed, there are always people who can provide a personal instance of the teachers who negatively influenced them. It is not surprising: incompetent instructors damagingly affect hundreds and thousands learners throughout their careers (OECD, 2005). While describing a bad teacher is a relatively easy task, characterizing an excellent one can sometimes become a challenge. In this blog, I will attempt to articulate the definition of a successful teacher first using scientific cases and then moving to several cinematic examples.

http://fineartamerica.com/featured/for-the-teacher-becky-alden.html
http://fineartamerica.com/featured/for-the-teacher-becky-alden.html

Ideals are hard to describe due to the obvious differences in social perceptions, educational habits, cultural backgrounds, and personal experiences. Despite numerous dissimilarities, the qualities of exceptional teachers can be broadly divided into personal and professional.

Several studies interpreted the essays written by students and demonstrated a consistent pattern of individual characteristics in the obtained image of commendable teachers. The finding of Kane & Temple (1997) indicated that students principally value such attributes as fairness, patience, cooperativeness and sense of humor. It is equally important for teachers to be self-reflective, critical and constantly developing for the better. Additionally, Mewborn & Tyminski (2006) highlighted the significance of concern about students and their needs.

Whereas distinctive personal qualities are of high importance, the possession of competence in the subject of matter is fundamental. Students are very unlikely to learn much from the teacher who is unable to convey knowledge due to the lack of mastery in discipline. A group of Estonian researchers in education found out that as an accomplished professional the teacher must be able to make learning engaging and explain new information in a clear and concise way (Läänemets, Kalamees-Ruubel & Sepp, 2012). Finally, the knowledgeable teachers effectively address the problems of student behavior, create a friendly and supportive atmosphere and draw students into considerate learning (Sachs, 2001).

Mostly, “ideal” teachers resist a single agreed definition among scholars, but what about the filmmakers? I decided to share with you five movies, in which outstanding teachers made a real change.

  1. Dead Poet Society (1989)
http://www.kinopoisk.ru/picture/1933325/
http://www.kinopoisk.ru/picture/1933325/

It is really hard to find a person who has seen this film and did not enjoy the beautiful acting of Robin Williams as an English teacher in a private boarding school for boys, whom he inspires to “carpe diem” or “seize the moment”. His personal example suggests two important things. First, the teachers must break the rules. We only live once, why waste our time? The second, they need to encourage and appreciate diversity among students.

4. Coach Carter (2005)

http://www.kinopoisk.ru/picture/170242/
http://www.kinopoisk.ru/picture/170242/

Another example is a true story of a coach who begins training a team of underachieving sassy students having a great potential in basketball. Samuel L. Jackson faces a dilemma when he needs to choose between benefits of study and sports. Despite his old school methods of training, he embodies a perfect illustration of not only a unique teacher but also a true leader who is organized, committed and encouraging.

  1. Mona Lisa Smile (2003)
http://www.kinopoisk.ru/picture/1997026/
http://www.kinopoisk.ru/picture/1997026/

The themes raised in Mona Lisa Smile starring Julia Roberts are close to ones of Dead Poet Society. However, this film is distinct because it brings up the issues of female teacher identity and social expectations. Its message is that empathy and reflection are essential qualities, but they are sufficient only if someone is brave enough, especially if it is a woman in education breaking social stereotypes.

  1. Front of the class (2008)
http://www.tvguide.com/shows/front-of-the-class-296045/photos/
http://www.tvguide.com/shows/front-of-the-class-296045/photos/

This drama is as sound as it is sincere. It tells another real-life story, which will probably interest my friends from Inclusive Education. It is about a boy (James Wolk) with an unusual neurological disorder, Tourette Syndrome, whose aim is to become a teacher. His character proved that a devoted teacher with strong spirit can make a real difference and serve as a role model.

  1. Whiplash (2014)
http://www.kinopoisk.ru/picture/2487508/
http://www.kinopoisk.ru/picture/2487508/

Number one on the list is a magnetizing, electric and gripping revelation in cinematography showing one of the best psychological battles between an ambitious drummer (Miles Teller) and his outstanding music teacher (J.K. Simmons, 2014 Golden Globe winner). Some people may disagree that Simmons can be called an instance of a good teacher. True, his despotic approach and constant insults remind Sgt. Hartman’s in Full Metal Jacket (1987). However, he definitely deserves respect for his incomparable emotional power pushing students to perform beyond expectations. Passion is what distinguishes an exceptional teacher from a merely good teacher.

http://hdw.eweb4.com/out/611552.html
http://hdw.eweb4.com/out/611552.html

What do you think of my top teacher movies list? What is yours? Have your ideals about “perfect” teachers changed? What qualities, as a teacher, do you hope to develop over time? I am eager to learn more about that.

As you were able to see, the search of an effective teacher is always subjective and interpretive. Nevertheless, if teaching is your professional calling, bear in mind that not all excellent teachers are inborn teachers. Any desirable quality can be developed over time just like unwanted can be eliminated. Teaching is more rewarding than many people consider, isn’t it?

References

Kane, P. R., & Temple, E. (1997). Who is a good teacher? Who is a good school head?.Independent School56(3), 50.

Läänemets, U., Kalamees-Ruubel, K., & Sepp, A. (2012). What Makes a Good Teacher? Voices of Estonian Students. Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin79(1), 27-31.

McKenzie, P., Santiago, P., Sliwka, P., & Hiroyuki, H. (2005). Teachers matter: Attracting, developing and retaining effective teachers. OECD.

Mewborn, D. & Tyminski, A. (2006). Lortie’s apprenticeship of observation revisited. For the learning of mathematics, 26(3).

Sachs, J. (2001). Teacher professional identity: competing discourses, competing outcomes. Journal Of Education Policy16(2), 149-161. doi:10.1080/02680930010025347