On the Continuous Learning of Teachers

by Guillermo Bautista Jr.

You probably hear phrases like “continuous learning” and “lifelong learning” in teacher discussions, conferences, or trainings, but it does not actually happen in reality (at least in mathematics). In almost every teacher training in mathematics that I have attended or conducted, teachers would always say that they do not know a particular topic because they are not teaching it. Although this admittance is a form of humility, in my opinion, this is only acceptable if you are teaching higher mathematics in college or university, but I personally think that teachers in high school should have a good grasp in every subject whether it is Algebra, Geometry, Probability, or Basic Calculus. Costa(2008) argues that

To ensure high quality of instruction in the academic disciplines, we must continually deepen our knowledge of the structure and organizing principles, modes of inquiry, and habits of mind that distinguishes that discipline.

A deep knowledge in mathematics, or other subjects for that matter, will let us have a wider perspective on how to teach the subject. For instance, in the case of mathematics teaching, one of its strengths is to be able to show students the connection among the different subjects even from different grade levels. For example, if you are teaching about triangle similarity in Grade 9, you should at least be able to connect the topic to proportion which is discussed in the elementary school level as well as the trigonometric functions discussed in Grade 10 and Grade 11. Teachers must be able to relate the similarities and differences between triangle similarity and triangle congruence and relate these concepts to transformation and dilation. Not knowing these connections will only show the students that mathematics is a fragmented subject.

The point of the discussion is that we teachers must continue learning in order to strengthen our content as well as their pedagogy. This can be done by reading books, watching video lectures (there are thousands of them in Youtube), attending trainings and seminars, or joining a professional learning communities.

Reference:

Costa, A. (2008). Teachers as Continuous Learners. Retrieved June 15, 2017, from https://www.nesacenter.org/uploaded/conferences/FLC/2011/handouts/Watts/Teachers_as_Continuous_Learners.pdf

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