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EDUCATION IN ACTION: FROM SELF-REFLECTION TO ACTIVE TEACHING

December 20, 2016
Human nature is constantly striving after knowledge and therefore the education has passed through uncountable metamorphoses, its challenges are shaped by the burning issues of our century, as well as conditioned by inner developments of the system. Regardless of the crucial importance of innovations and technologies in 21th century’s education, the human factor is in the center of educational process and therefore the behavior and activism of role players, e.g. teachers and learners, are designing the structure of education.

The training program that launched the first week of December on the outskirts of Jerusalem, was in a way ambitious aiming at facing the challenges of Education in 21th century. In a quite short period of time, the participants from 18 countries, educators, teachers, education administrators have had great opportunity to discuss with colleagues and experts in the field the latest developments of education system, new technologies and innovations, the study trips to the education institutions in Israel made this experience more enriching and fruitful. The last week of the training course was “time to gather stones” and put together the insights and ideas in an active process of self-reflection. 

The first session of our last week training started with a very thought-provoking topic. Mrs. Yudith Rosenthal presented us “spiritual intelligence”, a relatively new concept that has crucial role in enriching learning/teaching experience based on values. This subject was presented by method of combining audiovisual materials – picture, music and interaction with a partner. Four hierarchies of Qs are Physical Intelligence (PQ), Intellectual Intelligence (IQ), Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Spiritual Intelligence (SQ). Contemporary scholar Danah Zohar defined SQ as the ultimate intelligence which contains 12 principles. As an educator/ professional we are transferring to the learners not only knowledge but values and what are the values we want our students to acquire from us and how? The presenter engaged us in discussions of values in a very interesting technique through reading/telling stories, bringing examples of famous personalities. It became more than obvious, that instead of asking ‘What’, we should focus on ‘Why’ questions initiating more meaningful teaching/learning process. 

Teaching is a constant challenge of shaping and updating skills. In the 21st century a quality teacher has to play many roles; teacher, researcher/professional, colleague, mediator and even judge.  Despite tremendous efforts of the teachers, sometimes many activities in the classroom or the processes of learning end without achieving the desired goals and objectives because of many factors. One of the major identified factors is Burnout - a state of emotional, mental and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. Dr. Ariela Bairey ben Ishay explained in an interactive teaching that the burnout occurs when we feel overwhelmed and unable to meet the constant demand. Everyone may be on the road to burnout and there are three approaches to deal with it; Recognize, Reverse and Resilience. Two questionnaires on Burnout were given out to be filled and we were “diagnosed” with different levels of burnout. In group discussions, we came out with a full range of tips, like relaxing ritual, adopting healthy life style, exercising and sleeping habits, setting boundaries, taking daily breaks from technology etc. We agreed that we need to slow down, reevaluate our goals and priorities in order to be efficiently active because this creates a meaningful and comfortable teaching/learning environment. 
 

The next day of training we were given definition and elements of active teaching by Dr. Michal Ramot from the Hebrew University. At the beginning, three participants played the role of a lecturer and delivered a lecture in 5 minutes. Three microteaching sessions were delivered differently using techniques of asking questions, discussing cases and interacting with the audience. After the lectures, the learners gave feedback on what they liked about the lesson and what needed improvement. Through the method of peer instruction, we read the abstract of an article and gave a title and main approaches of it. By the end of the session, we were asked to compare active and passive models of our own teaching as self-reflection. Active teaching consists of the teaching activities that cause students to do things and think about what they are doing. The bottom line of the correct question to active teaching is that we should ask ourselves not what I am going to teach but how I am going to teach.  

Activities and insights of the day were summarized in an overarching question; how do we define success in education? Our answers were different but right because they reflected our experience and incredibly inspiring journey that we went through the last weeks at the training course. At the end of the day, no matter what our position is, we hold the same responsibility as change agents to make our workplace, our school, our society and our world better. Accomplishing this responsible, continuous self-development and self-reflection would bring us to the goal. As Audre Lorde said. “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
 

Alvina Hovhannisyan- Armenia
Dinath Kim- Cambodia
Oloyede Akinniyi Ojo- Nigeria 
Thanh Tu Hoang- Vietnam
Thi Kieu Dung Nguyen- Vietnam