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Posts Tagged ‘educators

Today I ask some unsolicited questions on behalf of teachers and educators who have had to endure professional advice from their non-teacher/educator friends or relatives.

Would you claim to be a doctor after a few visits to your general practitioner?

Would you tell a software engineer what to do after you figured out how to change a WhatsApp setting?

Would you advise an architect on the next great design after you built a Lego masterpiece?

Would you tell an artist what to be inspired by after getting a shower thought?

Most probably not. But you have ideas that should be implemented by teachers and educators, don’t you?

Not many of you can claim to be doctors, engineers, architects, or artists. But practically all of you have attended lessons in classrooms, lecture halls, and laboratories. Many of you gained some insights of teachers and educators thanks to home-based learning/remote teaching thanks to COVID-19 lockdowns. But how exactly does that make you a teacher or educator?

I am critical of vendors looking from the outside claiming they have solutions for schools. I am all for educators transferring principles they apply from the wider world to change what happens in schools. But I wonder how many bother to look or know how to look.

Here is an example. I share a mundane experience and then suggest in italics what educators might learn.


Like the majority of Singaporeans, I need spectacles to correct myopia. So do my wife and son. Replacing our glasses is an expensive affair.

I noticed a new chain of stores that promised to not only offer lower prices but to also make replacement lenses in about half an hour.

With free or low-cost technology, you can reach learners with much less traditional effort.

My wife and I wandered into one branch while in town, ordered ourselves new pairs of glasses, and arranged to collect them at a branch near where we stay.

Teaching and learning does not have to happen in one place. Going to where the learner is at socially and pedagogically is easy with today’s technology.

The spectacle chain is thorough with their eye examinations, their staff are polite, and the lenses prepared overseas. The price breakdowns are clear: There is the basic set and several add-ons (like the type of lenses) that increase the cost of a pair of glasses.

Treat people nicely and communicate simply and clearly. Your resources need not be created in-house; they can be outsourced or curated.

Easy pairs of spectacles are done on the spot. More customised glasses like the ones with progressive, transition, or high-index lenses take about two weeks to make.

Communicate performance expectations clearly and keep your promises.

The chain contacted me by SMS when the glasses were ready. I visited the store they promised I could pick them up at and was very pleased with my new spectacles.

Again, go where the learners are at. Communicate with media and strategies that they are already using.

I asked if they could replace my son’s lenses but keep his current frame. The processing and eye examination probably took more time than the grinding of the lenses.

Meet the learners where they are. Technology allows customisation and you can learn how to go with the flow.

I received two $30 discount coupons on my first purchase. I applied one coupon to the first purchase and the other to the second. I received a $10 discount coupon with the second purchase for a subsequent purchase.

Incentivise logically. While many “gamify” by withholding benefits, this chain illustrated a strategy of giving. Giving away on a social media PLN, for example, does not make you poorer. It increases your reputational capital if you create value.

Do you see what I see? Or do you need a pair of special glasses?

World Teachers’ Day is on 5 October. It was first proclaimed by UNESCO in 1994.

Teachers’ Day used to be celebrated in Singapore schools on 1 September until the debacle last year when TD somehow got “lost” due to a scheduling problem. It is now celebrated on the first Friday of September.

I have mixed feelings about Teachers’ Day.

I do not think that it is enough to celebrate teachers. We need an event for educators. Not only does this encompass more types of people, I think there are differences between teachers and educators worth celebrating.

Those of us now in higher education have grown accustomed to not receiving as many (or any) laurels on a day like this. We acknowledge the dropoff in trinkets that happens in stages.

Teachers get cartfuls of thank-you paraphernalia from single-digit old students. You might get bagfuls until they are about to become teenagers. The dropoff coincides with the spike of raging hormones until you get a trickle with adult learners.

You may still get some cards, SMS, Facebook messages, and emails. By this stage, these may be all you need.

Video source

Like Taylor Mali, the teacher in the video above, I do not need external validation with presents or a special day. Education is the miracle; we are just the workers.

Every day is a happy educator’s day for me if I can see that I am making a difference.

I wish my fellow educators a Happy Educators’ Everyday whether or not you are actually happy and even if your efforts have not been validated externally. Your conscience is your guide.


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