prior to operationalise

prior to operationalising some (new) pedagogy, teaching approach, methods, or (fill in the blank), something needs to be addressed. we just so happen to talk abt this over lunch yesterday in our 3-men gathering. and a while ago, this post was surfaced via su fen‘s fb feed “How to Design a Classroom Built on Inquiry, Openness and Trust“. 无巧不成书也。

as the word “How to” in the title suggests, the article primarily addresses the Operational aspects of things. but the experience from my recent work, coupled with past experiences, tells me that something probably needs to be addressed prior to operations — the Psychological aspect. to be specific, the Beliefs (of teachers; note: not students, yet). questions to be addressed would include:

what are your beliefs about Learning? what are your assumptions about how your students learn? what beliefs of learning are the target/new pedagogy/approach/method founded on? how does these match/clash with your current beliefs/assumptions? going a step further, how many or which of these are informed or guided by Learning Sciences?

w/o addressing Psychology/Beliefs, teachers can probably still psuedo-operationalise anything. and the end results would likely be akin to SDL = student completes assigned homework independently; CoL = working in groups. and when the boss doesn’t ‘demand’ it anymore, would the practice still stays, or we go back to square one? as a side note, we discussed abt the practice of ‘lesson study’ in school during lunch yesterday.

while belief(s) cannot be changed overnight, it needs to be addressed right at the beginning, and revisited very often. why? so that it becomes something teachers include in their review/reflection of their practice/operations. in doing so, we’ll likely see more successful shifts and hear more success stories. this is #myHypothesis w/o digging into the literature yet 😛

gears photoPhoto by el_rogos

a quick quote related to teachers’ PD

“(contrary to commonly held notions) change in teachers’ attitudes and beliefs is primarily a result, rather than a cause, of change in the learning outcomes of students. In the absence of evidence of positive change in students’ learning, it suggests that significant change in the attitudes and beliefs of teachers is unlikely.” (Guskey, 2002, p.386)

— chanced upon via tandfonline

TLCSL 2015 paper

in a few days’ time, the 4th International Conference on the Teaching and Learning of Chinese as a Second Language (TLCSL 2015) with SCCL as main organiser will be held.

Screenshot 2015-09-04 TLCSL 2015


(An Information and Communications Technology (ICT)-based blended learning approach to Singapore Chinese Language teachers’ professional development: A preliminary look at a pilot project; by TAN, Yuh Huann; TAN, Yan Ni; CHOW, Fong Yee)

Screenshot 2015-09-05 18.36.57

feel free to leave your questions and/or comments after reading the paper. we thank you for your time and interest, 谢谢 😉

//update Sep 9, 2015

click here to find the set of presentation slides (:
请在此下载报告中所用的简报 (:

// end update

to cite:
Tan, Y.H., Tan, Y.N., & Chow, F.Y. (2015). An information and communications technology (ICT)-based blended learning approach to Singapore Chinese Language teachers’ professional development: A preliminary look at a pilot project. Paper presented at the 4th International Conference on the Teaching and Learning of Chinese as a Second Language, Singapore. Retrieved from

陈育焕、陈雁妮、周凤儿. (2015). 新加坡华文教师基于资讯科技的混成式专业进修方式初探. 第四届华文作为第二语言之教与学国际研讨会,新加坡。下载自

learn what vs. how to learn

during last week’s meeting, some discussions on course offerings for teachers based on what they need took place. having read this article on a History professor reflecting on whether the teaching of history should focus on content (“历史学什么”), or should it be how to learn history (“历史怎么学”), i can’t help but to analyse the discourse through the above lens.

(personally) sadly, the perspective taken still adopted an empty-container-to-be-filled metaphor. for example, if teachers have needs in grammar knowledge, we should conduct course(s) to fill the container(s) with the needed knowledge. there’s no right or wrong since different learning theories may apply, but the perspective taken would affect the way a course is designed. how different would it be if the “enabling teachers on how to learn” perspective is adopted instead?

we always say teachers teach the way they are taught (citation needed), or teachers teach the way they learnt (citation needed). if teachers are not allowed to become self-directed learner, but instead the assumption is empty vessels to be filled, how could s/he teaches his/her students to be a true self-directed, lifelong learner of the 21st century?

in this internet/knowledge age, there’s no lack of contents especially online. but the skill of understanding/applying/synthesising & creating new knowledge based on what turns up from the internet is what our students should be empowered with. but if a teacher does not learn this way, will s/he believe that learning takes place as such, and in turn design his/her learning activities where students learn ‘how-tos’ instead of downloading of (overloaded) data? there’s no lack of literature on how teachers’ beliefs affect his/her teaching.

NE Show (11/7) - fireworks #5
NE Show (11/7) – fireworks #5