Preparing Future Work

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  • making thinking visible article

    Posted on May 3rd, 2014 Min Tang No comments

    When we sit in the same classroom, we still can feel the difficulty of communication and understanding each other. Dr. English has mentioned this making thinking visible concept in our class, please check it out.

  • think for the better

    Posted on April 23rd, 2014 Min Tang No comments

    I was told by parents and teachers that education would be my only way to stand out or make a difference when I was young. And I accepted it. I studied really hard, having good scores in exams and finishing what teachers told me to. As I grew older, sometimes I felt panic when I was out of school. It was like I became part of the “factory process” that I did not know what to do, because nobody would tell me. It was a fascinating experience. However, it took me years to build up life-learning habits and attitudes as well as get rid of what I received from teachers or family.
    I agree with what Seth Godin said in his video about the 8 principles we should consider. They are not just applied to secondary school, everybody should start to think about the right way of learning. Higher education should really lead students to think about themselves, learn about themselves and change themselves. Higher education should also try to help student to develop their life-long learning habits and thinking. The knowledge we receive would be only beneficial for the moment, however, the way of thinking or the way we want to perform in the future would impact ourselves and the society in our whole life.

  • Transition from a student to a teacher/presenter

    Posted on April 9th, 2014 Min Tang No comments

    As I do more and more research, there is a need for me to present orally or by poster. I found out that I had a problem talking in public or at least could not talk logically in front of people. I then realized that maybe I get used to be a listener, not a talker or presenter. No matter where I want to be, faculty or industrial employee, I need to present to people about my work. What should we do to successfully transit from a student to a teacher/presenter.

    I have found the following link useful. It is a report discussing different beginning science teacher case studies. If you have the same problem, we probably could start from there.

  • Who should be the readers of your statement of teaching philosophy?

    Posted on March 28th, 2014 Min Tang No comments

    Traditionally, we prepare our statement of teaching philosophy for faculty positions or any work positions. We want to stand out in any way we can. But it seems that we are missing the important subject: students. They are the ones that should be reading our statement of teaching philosophy and they are the ones that can give you feedback about your teaching. Shouldn’t we value their opinions more than those reviewing panels?
    Even with this fact, it is still important to have this document if you want to be a teacher. That is like teacher’s identification code. But as teachers, when we write, please consider students as  readers also.

  • How does digital technology influence FEMALES?

    Posted on March 24th, 2014 Min Tang No comments

    In our group discussions, we talked a lot about how digital technology, especially internet makes us think and do things differently compared to before. Most of the time, we seek out so much information on Internet that we barely hand-write. This fact is especially true to me. Sometimes when I write Chinese characters, I have to double check due to my lacking in practice. Even we are working, we could be easily distracted by Facebook, Twitter or other forms of social networks. That seems the general trend. In order to better make us focus on what we are doing, I suggested that we should prioritize our tasks and be off social networks when we are trying to complete our task. Recently, I am reading a book talking about what influences/shapes women’s thinking. This book indicates that in our historical timeline, many of our research methods and results or even pedagogical methods are based on men as subjects. I am wondering how much does internet influence females nowadays.

    GEDIs especially females: Do you think you have more access to resources that help to develop an equal environment in society because of Internet? Did you notice any changes of your mother before and after she started to use Internet? Does Internet help you to go further in your career or lead you to learn more things about this world?Do you think Internet would have more impact on FEMALES than MALES? I really want to see how much Internet changes the pathway of a female.

  • What qualifies for a good teacher?

    Posted on March 16th, 2014 Min Tang No comments

    I have talked to people who are in our group experienced with teaching. I asked them “What do you think about teaching and do you like teaching?”. I also asked if they have experienced anything that is really depressing or disappointing so that they regretted to be a teacher. One girl said that the teaching experience really varies. In some class, you could get really good feedback and you will have a lot of the students engaged into this class. That really makes your day and makes you feel the value of teaching. However, in some class, students are quiet and you have to do a lot to encourage them to talk and engage.

    Another person I asked said that he liked to encourage students and tell the students in the beginning about his expectations. He wanted the whole class to take whatever they want to gain their goal of this class. As a result, he would not feel disappointed even though some students are not doing very well, since he has told his students his role in this class he is going to play.

    One question I have been pondering is that if I am qualified for a good teacher or if I am fit in the position of teaching. I kept thinking about the strength test. None of my five strengths indicates my strength of teaching. Herein I have a question for all the GEDIs: How much do you think our personality would matter as for teaching? I have heard stories that some faculties have struggled to be good teacher for decades even though they are good researchers. Is it just the comfort zone that need to be conquered? Or some of us are not just teacher material.

    Many teachers, I believe, have high standards for themselves in their work. Teachers want students to work hard enough so that they could master the part they should have to. However, I have heard many times that teachers should not have much expectations from students. Many of the students would not work as hard as you want. Then when you are teaching, you have to split yourselves into two: high standard you and low standard teacher. I aslo want to ask GEDIs: Isn’t that a compromise to yourself?

  • Thoughts on authentic self and learner-centered teaching

    Posted on March 4th, 2014 Min Tang No comments

    I never teach a class and I never liked being the center/focus of someone. I could imagine myself standing in front of the classroom, being nervous and blank in mind. When I read Find my teaching voice, I was excited to see that this could happen to others as well. I learned that being honest with my quality is one way to free myself. I don’t need/have to be the same good teacher as others. I just need to be myself, being comfortable in classroom and with students. It seems that my personality is not that important. Humor does not qualify a good teacher, instead, if I could focus more on learner-teaching and how much students could learn from my class, that adds much more value of being a teacher.

    In Weimer’s “learner-centered teaching”, one of the principles he proposed was that teachers should let students do more work and teachers should be the facilitators of learning. I agree. Recalling on my learning experiences in China and the United States, teachers were talking 95% of the class time. If we were called out to talk or answer questions, as least I was afraid to or I was not willing to talk aloud. The instinct of communication/discussion seems to extinguish with the old pedagogy. To some extent, I would wonder how much are we capable of critically thinking/solving problems after so many years of being a recipients?

    However, if we put the students as the center of this class, instructors watch and direct. We encourage them to think, we encourage them to talk and we encourage them to learn. How effective would that be? Would they complain that instructors are not doing their jobs because instructors should teach what is in the book? How many students are willing to spend time on reading textbooks and digesting the basic information on their own?

    As instructors, I feel obligated to make my class wonderful so that students are willing to engage and participate. Many instructors try really hard but they might fail. Evaluation for both students and instructors would be valued importantly for me since teaching-learning are dependent. We should improve learner’s teaching, in the mean time, and instructors’ teaching to motivate learners’ learning.

  • how should we deal with each identity we have

    Posted on February 26th, 2014 Min Tang No comments

    In Claude Steele’s book Whistling Vivaldi, he studied “a mysterious link between identity and intellectual performance”. He noticed that black students tend to under-perform during the college than other students, even with comparable academic skills when they enter college. Usually, people use observer’s perspective to explain their under-performance, i.e., they make their judgments based on their observing of the behaviors and they emphasize what is inherent in those students’ personality/traits/characteristics. However, this approach deemphasizes why it happens. Instead, we should us actor’s perspective. In other words, we should stand in those students’ shoes and dig deeper why that happens.

    He wondered if social and psychological aspects of their experiences are part of the causes. He also questioned if their under-performance has anything to do with their belongingness. After doing experiments with students, he suspected that the under-performance has something to do with their experiences in school, more that just lack of motivation or cultural knowledge or skills.

    He proposed that colleges have inherited the traditional frameworks of prejudice and racism towards black people from the bigger society and history that it imposed downwardly constituting pressure upon those black students, as a result of interfering with intellectual performance. However, after he did experiments showing that stigmatization could impair women’s ability to solve math problem, he wondered if stigmatization could be the reason for minorities’ under-performance in college?

    I agree that minorities have more pressure from the society and history. They probably are stigmatized about who they are and how should they perform in some ways, if you track down the root of their identities. Today when I spoke to a white American friend and asked if he or his classmate would discriminate black students. He said at least he and his friends do not and there were only about five black students in his elementary school. He is from Arizona State. He pushed me to think in the economic side. He suggested that if those black students were raised in a rich family, they probably would perform differently and there would be much less crime rate also.

    If you think about the diversity from this national and even the world, we are all categorized into certain social identity, student, rich, poor, Asian, White or Disabled. How should we deal with each identity without being stigmatized?

  • Both students and educators should work together

    Posted on February 18th, 2014 Min Tang No comments

    After 20 years of studying, I always believe that the aim of school is to engage students in learning and make it a lifetime habit. Education is more than grades and it should inspire students to explore what interests them (Look at article: Learning should go deeper than class reading assignments ).But the most common way to assess what we have learned is the grades or the rubrics (Source: Making the Grade: The Role of Assessment in Authentic Learning and The case against grades). Studies have shown that grades have a negative impact on students’ learning and overall up take of knowledge (Source: The case against grades ). It reduces the quality of students’ critical thinking, diminish students’ interest of learning and creates students’ preferences over the easier task. With the economical shift, more foreign students are going abroad and become the competitors for the local students. We need to prepare students with updated knowledge and problem-solving skills in the information age. What’s more, students are requesting a different picture of learning in school.  We do need to take further action to meet students’ needs. Though many professors/teachers resist the change in assessment in both students and themselves, change in assessment is the step we have to cross. We need the authentic assessment of what students learn and how the teaching is performed. I was fascinated by those assessments tools or methods mentioned in “make the grade: the role of assessment in authentic learning“. The present authentic assessment tools start to grow. They occur in some institutions, elementary schools, middle schools and even high schools. The authentic assessment tends to be more dynamic than the traditional assessment and it focuses more on what the students have learned and what the teachers can improve. However, there is one challenge facing educators: would the students truly tell about how the teachers perform? How would we make sure these assessments are not biased?

    Truth to be told, if a teacher throws several questions for you to assess and you have to submit your answer before you leave the classroom, would you rush or would you stay to finish it carefully? I guess most people would say “it depends (like the time, mood, labor, etc.)”. I figured that one way to avoid the untruthful feedback is to educate them about those assessment objectives early in their early stage. It is better to let the objectives of assessment, which is not about grades but the quality of future education, root in their heart when they are still young.

    As a grown learner, we should also learn to embrace new environment and try new assessment and technology tools for our higher education. In that way, we could increase the quality of education dramatically and reach the goal of education more closely. For example, integration of digital technology would provide more pathways of learning content and reduce the time of teaching knowledge during class time. Instead, more time could be spent to solve real problems, which is what we need for the job market.

    I love of idea of changing the way to assess both students and educators. However, this change improves or fixes the problem residing in educators or schools. What about the problems in students? Are they working hard enough to get what they want? Learning is a process of bidirectional feedback. If we don’t have a right attitude towards what we want to learn, learning would be a difficult process no matter how much you change in assessment or in school. The first thing that we need to accomplish before changing the assessment tools is to get the students’ right attitude to education. Both educators and students should work together to improve higher education, not just schools or educators.


  • We need to know both what’s wrong and what’s right

    Posted on February 15th, 2014 Min Tang No comments

    “Fixing what’s wrong—with students, institutions, and cultures—is the most prevalent approach to change. Frank Shushok and Eileen Hulme offer the discovery and exploitation of what’s right as a powerful alternative.”

    Would this be a powerful statement?

    I love the idea of exploiting what is inherent in our personal strength. By knowing our strengths better, we could take advantage of that to find the right team and be the right team member. However, the aim of our life is not to be a good team member. Instead, we should try to bring the best ourselves to our family, friends and even to our work. This makes me wonder: is it enough to know just what’s in ourselves?

    The best solution to school and even ourselves would be fixing what’s wrong and in the meantime enhancing what’s right. In our high school, we strove to get a few more points for our college entrance exam. The strategy I heard most from teachers was “to work harder on your weaker subject and keep working on your stronger subject”. I feel this is the same philosophy. If you work on both sides, you get closer to the best of yourself. No matter where you are in the system, you will be a good one.