For some teachers, science is probably one of the challenging subjects to teach to young children. The challenge lies, among others, in how to effectively engage and sustain the interest of the students in a classroom discussion on, for example, human evolution or quantum physics.
Thirteen public elementary teachers accepted this challenge last 2011 during a series of training on Blended Mentorship for Public School Teachers, believing that research is an important key towards effective science teaching.
For Giovanne Apostol, a master teacher I of Badian Central School, said that the trainings enabled her to gain a wider knowledge on research and appreciate its value in teaching science to her students.
“Teaching science subject really needs the best strategies in order impart the lessons to the students. Based on our experience, some students have a hard time learning the subject. The reason might be due to poor approaches in teaching,” the 42-year-old teacher said.
The blended mentorship is a project of the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) and Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI), through RAFI’s Development Fund facility, in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd).
The project seeks to produce public elementary teachers who are efficient in conducting research as well as developing and seeking research-based teaching materials. It aims to develop a research culture among teachers through blended mentorship, enabling them to use their lesson plans and classrooms as research tools.
During the duration of the project, the participating teachers went through a series of trainings that included sessions on research writing, online mentoring sessions, and research writeshop and integration activity, among others.
Apostol’s study, entitled “One-Subject-One-Day (OSOD) Curriculum: A Transformative Approach in Teaching Grade 3 Science”, was also presented during the 7th International Conference on Teacher Education (ICTED), last July at the UP Diliman.
“During the presentation of my research study, I couldn’t help but cry because of pressure and tension. We mentees are dedicated to this project because we know that we will reap something from our trainings,” she stressed.
“After the data gathering for my study, I learned that most of my students learned science best when it is taught for one day. This is because they need more concentration on the subject compared to other subject discussions in a day,” she added, citing that some of the mentees in the training provided positive feedback on her study.
Many teachers are dependent on textbooks during classroom discussion. Apostol pointed out that science should go beyond the typical form of teaching. A teacher needs to be creative and open-minded on the approaches that work best for his or her students.
“As a teacher for 20 years now, I want to keep on learning new approaches in teaching. One can utilize visual aids or presentations during the discussion. The trainings taught us that research is also an integral part of the teaching-learning process,” she said.
The busy schedule of Charisse Unabia, a teacher of Lipata Central Elementary School, did not stop her from attending the trainings in the blended mentorship project. She said that the lessons she gained from the project are worth her time and sleepless nights.
“I balanced my time at home and in school in order to fit the time for the project’s trainings. Research is not new to me. But the new developments in research should not only be learned by aspiring teachers but also to practicing teachers,” she shared.
Her research paper, “Do Students’ Perceived Traits of an Effective Science Teacher Influence Their Classroom Performance?”, identifies the qualities of an effective teacher as perceived by the students.
“During my data gathering, I performed the qualities that they liked. I indentified the effects of these perceptions to the performance of the students in my class and compare the performance of the students before,” she said.
The most challenging part she experienced is the data gathering stage of her study. She was limited in time and resources. She said that this is the reason why some participating teachers did not pursue their studies under the project because it added to their school-related workload.
“Research needs focus and commitment. All the steps in research take time. In order to yield a significant result, one needs full dedication,” the mother of two said.
Hearing other teachers’ teaching strategies is a mentorship process already. She shared that during their trainings, they were like students eager to learn another lesson on research.
“It is tiring but it is fruitful. This just goes to prove that the “no pain, no gain” cliché is really true,” she added.
For Dr. Ricardo Bagarinao, project manager and mentor, even after the research paper presentations of the teachers last November 2012, their journey did not end there. Research should be a tool in deciding strategies inside the classroom.
“Make use of research to improve your teaching process in the classroom. There are so many things to be studied. Just take another step because everything is just the start of something new,” he advised.
Anthony Dignadice, Education Developmnet unit executive director of RAFI, said that the blended mentorship project helps elementary science teachers evaluate the effectiveness of their current teaching methods and practices.
“Apart from continuing with their research work to further hone their skills, it would also be great if they share their learnings to their fellow teachers and even to their mentors,” he stressed.
He added that teachers can now make appropriate research-based decisions in improving their teaching techniques and learning process of their students.
At present the researches made by the teachers are being evaluated. A journal presenting their researches is also being considered. (By Chrisley Ann Hinayas/Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc.)
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For more information about blended mentorship, please contact 418-7234 loc. 205 and look for Jan Michael Oseo, or visit www.rafi.org.ph or www.facebook.com/rafi.org.ph, or follow RAFI on Twitter, @rafiorgph.