第2053期「領導人員培育班」研習- 摘要與心得

Some important educational policies were introduced, such as previous endeavors and measures put into helping creating normalization of a healthier teaching environment. As a member of the Advisory group, of course I would focus more on how to beef up teaching and assessment, which include Effective Teaching, Differentiated Instruction, Cooperative Group Learning and Alternative Assessment. These courses are considered as the key to the success of the educational reform, so workshops with regard to these topics will continued to be held to promote tried and trusted approaches to in-service teachers, hoping our students can benefit form those changes in teaching and assessment.

If you try to come up with important features of these topics, you'll find these characteristics are constantly emphasized, like dynamic interaction, innovative teaching strategies, catering to individual learning needs, incorporating technology, the application of the language and rubrics. To take on new challenges brought by the Twelve-Year Compulsory Education, teachers are, first of all, required to embrace the opportunity to adjust or revolutionize his or her ways of teaching, for lecturing and standardized testing alone can no longer satisfy our students, especially after the abolishment of the BCT. We all need to evolve with this unstoppable trend, creating more opportunities for our students to apply what they've learned in class. After all, the ultimate goal of learning a language is to communicate. However, conventional thinking only concerns whether students can get everything right on the tests instead, which is obviously insufficient to meet the new challenges.

We went on a tour to a very renowned and successful elementary school, Micang, visiting all the wonders created by a principal, who is full of visions and imagination, and his dedicated staff. The school was nicknamed "Toy Wonderland" for all the surprises when you walk in the campus, including the top museum, toy museum, hopscotch playground, weaving workshop, to name just a few. We were all just like a bunch of excited schoolboys, or maybe schoolgirls, busy taking pictures and also kept wondering how he got those genius ideas to renovate the whole school into a such a happy learning environment.
One man can really make a difference. The principal truly fought an uphill battle, turning what we usually would consider disadvantages into their unique strengths. Located in a relatively remote area in Taipei, Micang has won numerous awards by tapping into the school's remarkable integration of so many wonderful talents and the principal's personal interests and expertise. Micang has such a variety of clubs, and they even have their own archery field inside the school. When most schools are preoccupied by how to introduce some fancy devices like iPad or helping their students test into a better school, Micang, on the other hand, is striving to develop more of their own features. As a teacher, I hope we can have more successful examples like this school, and more importantly, more principals with visions and determination to make more incredible differences. 
Both lecturers reiterated the important goals of the national English policies and shared how they devoted their time and energy to get things done. On top of that, many useful online resources were also introduced, showcasing the construction of databases of teaching resources and test items through teamwork. For me, they're both superwomen that can fulfill so many huge duties in time. Also, both have their own styles of doing a presentation, and of course I managed to pick up some.
In one of their slides, it reads " To be able to communicate", which has been my most important teaching belief all along. Lecturing can merely help our students gain knowledge of the language, like vocab and grammatical structures. To cope with new challenges, many workshops have been devised, form my point of view, only to motivate students with more interesting and interactive activities. But, we really have to ask ourselves this question, "Are my students becoming a better English communicator after all those activities?". I really doubt drawing pictures, cutting paper or using tablet computers to scramble sentences can serve the purpose. Unfortunately, this new norm of teaching English seems to take shape now. Very few really cares about whether our students can acquire basic skills like word stress, intonation and expressing themselves properly in English. What's the point of learning a language when you don't know how to speak or write in that language? Moreover, how can you expect our students to be a , if not fluent, or just a basic English speakers, when English teachers don't have to be proficient in English? A dynamic, energetic and fun activity can ensure students are engaged, but I'm more willing to create more opportunities for my students to apply the language , such as show and tell, keeping diary in English or introducing their favorite English speaking videos in English because they not only have the same features but also help students to communicate in English better.

Effective Teaching is a dynamic process that constantly tries to connect teaching objectives and learning achievement. In the process, teachers adopt varied strategies and techniques, such as creating a warm and resourceful atmosphere and learning environment, complete with diverse teaching methods, like group work, task-based activities, mind mapping, PBL and so on. How do we know that our teaching is effective by this definition? Well, a list of checking criteria is provided, like learning centered, learning oriented, energetic interaction, creative methods, resource utilization and so on. Differentiated Instruction is hoping to decrease the number of students that needs remedial teaching. It is a belief, not a specific approach or method, that emphasizes finishing covering the course doesn't necessarily guarantee expected learning outcomes. By categorizing "content", "process" and "production" respectively into two or three levels based on complexity or students' English levels, both advanced and slow learners can be expected to produce desirable learning outcomes through flexible grouping and varied tasks.
While sitting through these workshops, I gained some useful ideas and immediately planned my own new teaching activities. I couldn't wait to put what I learned into practice, and I have a very good reason for this, which is that I take on this Cooperative Group Learning project for my school and have to be ready for the teaching demonstration and workshop. So, when three teachers' successful models were introduced, I was also busy trying to "steal" some of their good ideas. I found they all knew their own strengths so well that they devise their amazing teaching activities accordingly. For example, one of the teachers likes to watch English movies, so she designed a set of tasks for her students to feel the importance of being able to communicate in English. Reflecting back on my distinguished signature, being a fluent English speaker, I would also want to play to my strengths and come up with ideas that can both engage my students and help them feel what it's like to be able to express themselves or complete tasks in English.
This whole afternoon, three principals shared their experiences of how they successfully ran the advisory teams and won the most prestigious award. Principal Wu from Taidong introduced how he tackled many unbelievable obstacles and kept moving forward, doing everything he can to benefit English learners in one of the most remote and disadvantaged areas in Taiwan. His genuine attitude and touching story is without a doubt inspiring and admirable, especially compared to rich resources a metropolis can invest in English education.
The idea of this workshop is to illustrate how to be a better advisory team with real successful examples. All three principals have given us their detailed approaches to achieve this goal. They all adapt their own specific cultures to do great things, so I cannot help wondering what exclusively are Taichung's advantages. Taking on this huge responsibility this semester, I felt being overwhelmed by loads of paper work oftentimes, and I would really like to have more time with my family and also for my professional development. These two key factors are going to decide whether I want to continue with this job of mine next school year. Their stories are educational though, but I don't think I can follow in their footsteps if I have to sacrifice my family life or opportunities to keep brushing up on my English. Anyway, I'll do my best to try to strike a balance, and let's just wait and see if it works. If I fail to keep my words, then it's time to leave.

Professor Chang is sort of the godfather of English teaching in Taiwan. Beginning with the declining English proficiency test results, like Toeic,  he analyzed some of the long-lasting English learning problems, like the bipolar distribution and washback effect. In addition, he also promoted his idea of teaching English with English signs and announcements in the MRT. Following that, we were given an simple introduction to Taiwan Assessment of Student Achievement, or TASA, aiming at keeping a track of students' academic growth and thus offering more promising actions to help our students.
I do believe that we need to fundamentally change the way we assess students because teaching and learning are revolving around how to get better grades. Not too much to my surprise, I haven't seen any significant changes in both though the Open Admission System was already been announced at least three years ago. Teachers are still using numerous ready-made tests to make sure students are studying, which is  gradually taking away students' interest of learning. Alternative Assessment is highly recommended because students are being provided more opportunities to apply what they learned in class and showcase their strengths. But in practice, there are still many teachers having doubts about the government's determination to uphold this policy, so they're still waiting because they think it's too time consuming. Therefore, when the new assessment rubrics were introduced, I just could immediately picture many complaints from teachers. This is not the first time that Taiwan is experiencing educational overhaul, and sadly many policies have already given in to public pressure and been twisted or even discarded. My point is that when looking back after three or five years, there is a good chance that those skeptics would proudly say "I told you", just like what they did many years ago after high-ranking officials finally admitted it has failed.
This is really a brand new experience that I attended this series of workshops and was surrounded by many principals. Actually, I have been under a lot of pressure mainly from completing that huge project of Taichung's. Luckily, my predecessor has been extremely helpful, and my partner, who is also a novice at this new job, is also such a good person to work with. Of course, most of the courses are beneficial and some are even inspirational, which makes me feel that there are still many dedicated principals and teachers working very hard to make this world a better place. To sum up, I'm quite pleased to be part of these workshops and get to meet so many participants from all over Taiwan, and let's hope we can all utilize our influence to help promote those good ideas to as many teachers as we can so that our students can actually benefit from those new changes.