Wednesday, October 25, 2017

2017 MOE Principal Instructional Leadership Workshop

Developing interdisciplinary and custom-made learning materials aiming for reading comprehension and real application
It was completely my honor to be assigned and take on this huge task, with a group of principals and professors observing throughout the entire class. On top of that,
in order to demonstrate interdisciplinary collaborations for future workshops, I also worked closely with the students' homeroom teacher, who teaches Scouting Activity, and developed custom-made reading materials to depict the host school's camping trip next month.  

The Highlights
1. Interdisciplinary Collaborations
The English Advisory Team has been working hard to promote creative teaching strategies and lesson planning to meet the new challenges brought up by the new national curriculum guidelines. I worked closely with the students' homeroom teacher and custom-made learning materials regarding Scouting Activity, especially the host school's coming camping trip. The main idea is to demonstrate that these two different subjects can be integrated cleverly so that the students can relate more to the real application of the English language. They get to pick up some useful vocabulary and expressions about camping, complete with a glimpse of how to express their favorite camping activity in simple English through proper scaffolding. 
2. Task-Based Learning
Since I attended the TBL workshop by British Council Taiwan three years ago, I've been adopting this English teaching approach and done many teaching demonstrations. With clear and specific objectives in mind, I would then choose proper instructional activities/learning tasks for the students to complete collaboratively and for a meaningful purpose. It suits me so well because I can help my students produce desirable learning outcomes through a series of tasks that are designed to transition to the next one, and so on and so forth.
3. Collaborative Lesson Planning with Professional Learning Community
One of the best things about being a member of the English Advisory Team is that you get to work with the best teachers who share some core values with you. We are all driven and dedicated teachers who love learning as well as sharing. By fully discussing my lesson plan with them prior to the actual demonstration, I got to pick up their brains and tweak it accordingly. Moreover, they were very supportive and helpful during my demonstration. Thanks to one of the members' help, the technical problem of the OHP was fixed and my plan got to play out well.  

The Agenda
This workshop was comprised of three parts, including the introduction to the curriculum design, demonstration of reading comprehension with a Task-based approach, and discussion based on principals' perspective to instructional leadership.
I gave the participants a big picture of my lesson planning by introducing the course design triangle: learning objectives, instructional activities, and assessment. The ABCD objectives, comprised of audience, behavior, condition, and degree, provide a coherent framework for teachers to state specific and doable objectives.
For instructional activities, the Task-Based Learning approach has always been my favorite with the three-stage design, pre-task, main task, and post-task. With the pre-task helps foster motivation and create transition, main task focuses on student collaboration for real communication, while post-task develops review and extension. 
How do we know we've met the objectives? With observation, checklists, and rubrics, teachers can make sure students are actually learning and producing desirable outcomes that are in line with observable and measurable the predetermined learning objectives. 

Teaching with students I've never met is quite challenging. To have a better understanding of these assigned class, I went to the host school twice and actually conducted a class with them. The idea was for them to get more used to my ways of teaching because I would use English and activities to keep them busy a lot.
I successfully built a good rapport with them by sharing a common interest, WWE. In the very first few seconds into the real demo, we had a really good laugh together, which helped me a lot relax and stick with the plan. The students' performances truly exceeded my expectations. Except for that technical problem of the OHP, everything panned out exceptionally well.
Not to my surprise, many of the principals complimented me on my passion for English and teaching, which really satisfied my craving for recognition of what made me stand out, such as English speaking skills, lesson planning, and teaching effectiveness. Of course, I also embraced constructive criticism. For example, these activities were too packed and controlled even though I claimed this was a more student-centered class.

Final Thoughts
Of all the time and effort I put into this project, I gained so much more based on the students' engagement and the principals' positive feedback. I would savor this amazing experience for a long time. Without a doubt, it was absolutely worth it even though I had worried a lot whether the students could understand my English and perform these tasks in group work.
I was ambitious to cover as many good features as I could in this forty-five-minute class for the participants. It was so packed with five tasks that my job was mainly to give activity instructions and make sure the students apply what they learned. These tasks were quite structured and controlled even though it appeared the students were completing tasks most of the time throughout the whole class. Well, to be frank, when you have to teach students you've never met before, you've got to play safe first.

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