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Carolina R. Buitrago

Pillar 4: Professional educator

4 min read

Pecha Kucha me

We have been asked to reflect about the 3 indicators for the professional educator in Unit 4, here are my thoughts.
I will have to agree with Frank and his entry on Intentional content post and say that action research also applies quite nicely to this pillar. I mean, I think that educators who ask themselves questions about their teaching practice, take action, gather data about their students'performance and perceptions,  reflect and evaluate their actions, and start the process over deserve to be called professional educators. Therefore, making the action research cycle part of one's own teaching sure will help making any sort of pedagogical implementation one can think of possible.

However, due to political issues, constant neglect of the teaching profession and low levels of commitment, only some teachers are up to the task. Unfortunately, intrinsic motivation tends to be elusive to worn out, under-estimated and under-paid teachers. I think flipping learning somehow refreshes the teaching profession making it fun again since one sees results in students fast. Anyway, I can't help but wonder if flipping learning works because teachers are professional educators or if teachers become professional educators because flippetd learning works. What would you say?

Anyway, thinking about myself and the advances I've made in teaching under this new paradigm I would say I try my best and being a part of this course is vivid proof of those efforts. Let's analyze the indicators individually:

1. I make myself available to all students for individual, small group, and class feedback in real time as needed.

Absolutely, yes. Like 4 semesters ago, I started to give my students my phone number so they could add me to their Whatsapp and Line apps and find me easily any time they needed. Some of my colleagues thought this was going too far and I was "blurring the line between me and my students". I'd say they are right. I dont want any lines to be drawn between us. I want full disclosure and clear communication. After all, they are adults and know how to keep relationships. I found out that students rarely contact me during ungodly hours...😉 They are really thoughtful and respectful of my time, but they also feel I'm close to them. Right now, I have students from previous cohorts write to me to ask questions, references, even advice. They feel they have someone to talk to (academically speaking). They know I'm available. (I invite you to read a paper I wrote on the experience)

2. I conduct ongoing formative assessments during class time through observation and by recording data to inform future instruction.

Absolutely! I remember something Ken mentioned in the hangout about never using all the materials he makes in other offerings of his course. I agree! Even though sometimes it takes ages to design sound formative assessments and one wants to reuse them, every class is different and ends up dictating the "future". This also makes me think how I try not to make the same mistakes twice and to tweak my syllabus every semester in order to make it its better version every time I teach it. I have also found out that making notes of what happened in class, for example with certain technological tools, has improved my practice in future offerings of the course.

3. I collaborate and reflect with other educators and take responsibility for transforming my practice.

Yes, yes, yes... and it bothers me a lot others don't. I have met many teachers who think PD has to be provided not seeked. In my opinion, teachers should look for opportunities to self-actualize (as Maslow would put it in his hyerarchy of needs), but that's just my opinion.

I, on the other hand, have pursued self-actualization opportunities all my life. And fortunately, nowadays it is extremely easy to find ways to learn about anything and everything at a very low price and even for free. I can't understand why people wouldn't take advantage of all these resources, but hey, that's me, a geek talking! 

In sum, being a professional educator is one of the most important driving forces of my life and I try to become a better and more professional educator every day.