The Learning Journey: Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

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School Life-Learning Experience

It was interesting for me seeing my cousins reading books and writing something in her own diary. When I was around three years old, I had a big eagerness to learn how to read and write. Then, when I started being able to read, I kept reading kids magazine and series of Disney stories. When I started being able to write, I followed what my cousins did, wrote any kinds of words that I could do in it. It was still clearly remembered in my mind that the whole family members felt annoyed and disturbed when I asked anything when they watched television programmes. I always felt that I needed to know why it is like this, what it is or how to do something. But, my dad is the patient one to answer all my questions. I still remembered when my dad and I often rode a bicycle together and explored the town. I always asked where the sky is over. I saw it went down somewhere, but when I tried to get that place, I could not see the end point of the sky. My dad never answered my questions. He always just accepted my request to ride to the end point of the sky that I pointed and I wanted.

When I was in elementary school, I always felt interested to watch people in television programmes or movies speaking English. In that time, I just tried to figure out and follow what the people in the television programmes or movies talked about. After all, I realized I wanted to learn English seriously. I have mentioned to my mom and dad when I was in second grade of elementary school that someday I want to study in university with English Department as the specialisation. Before I got an English lesson at school, I firstly learned English at home. I often got many English books, kids dictionaries, videos and cassettes from my family. When I was in fourth grade, I firstly got an English lesson at school and I did like it. I always love language lessons, like Indonesian and English, music and social studies. Thanks God, my parents really knew what I love. They supported me. They let me join English course, writing competition, speech contest, debate competition, music co-curricular, broadcasting activities, etc. During my school life, I could do what I love. But, in the other hand, people always judged that smart people will get the good scores in Maths and science, and I never got the good one on them.

I knew that I am bad at memorization. I could not memorize well about the detailed things, but I could understand the big ideas of something. When I learned history, I could understand the big ideas of situation or the plot of the history. I felt I could, but I rarely got the good scores on it. I wondered, I questioned and I thought that the tests never gave me a chance to show what I knew and understood. For example, the tests asked the time or date of certain tragedy, or name of someone that could be hard for me to memorize. At that time, I felt and thought it was not fair. When I learned chemistry and physics in senior high school, I always questioned what it is for. What I could do was only completing worksheets and answering questions. And I never got the good scores on both of them. But, I felt so interested when joined an anthropology class. My teacher always asked me to have a discussion, let me think and never tested me with the multiple choice questions. The students in the class can write and tell what they already know and understand freely. When I had this class, I felt I could show my understanding to my teacher. And I thought it was fair for me and the other students as well.

When I learned in university, I felt alive. I found what I loved. I could learn in the ways I enjoyed and I felt comfortable in. I explored what I learned through discussions, have research, research findings, practices, projects and the important thing is I didn’t need to only memorize everything from the books. I could read the books to know what I wanted to know or what I learned and strengthened what I already knew and understood. The lectures also gave me the chances to show what I knew and understood through many kinds of assessment, not only multiple choices questions.

Teaching-Learning Experiences

I had some experiences in teaching in some national schools and found the difficulties to teach like what most of my teachers did at school in teaching. The ways that most of teachers did there were something that I didn’t want to do and didn’t feel right. Luckily, I have experienced to teach in an English course that uses fun methods and students-centered approach for around 4 years. There, I taught by using the ways that I feel right and easy to understand. Not only memorization. Having experiences there made me tried to find a place that uses the similar approach, method and perspective in teaching and learning process.

Then, I applied to a school that made me interested to work and learn. This school uses the curriculum that combines the national curriculum with the framework of International Baccalaureate (IB). IB was something new for me, but when I learned about IB, I got the answers why I often got the bad scores when I really understood in the same time. In this school, I learned a lot from the PYP (Primary Years Programme) coordinator, Ibu Gaynor Davis and all the experienced teachers. Many opportunities to learn from many sources, learning by doing, direct practices and asking to the more experienced people in education really helped me to learn and understand more.

When I teach with inquiry approach, I also learn, like what my students do. The concept-based or conceptual thinking, inquiry approach and the assessment system make the learning meaningful. All of them answer what I have been questioned for so long, during the school life. For me, these kinds of learning are ‘humanized’. The nature of human for learning, questioning and finding things (like what I had and did in the childhood) is provoked, encouraged and supported to be explored. The students are given many opportunities to explore their interests, ask what they want to know, try what they want to try, learn with their own styles and making mistakes is okay. We always encourage them to keep on trying and be more of a risk-taker, so making mistakes will commonly happen. People can learn from own mistakes or the others’ mistakes. Thing that needs to think next is how to improve it and make a betterment from what they did before. Having different opinions or perspectives with others is normal. The differences can be handled by having discussion, negotiation and listening and learning from others’ perspectives. Concepts, knowledge, skills, attitudes and actions are the five important elements. They stand equally and support/build each other. So, what we know (knowledge) is not only the important thing that we must have. There are other important things that we must be considered to become a qualified learner or person. For me, this kind of system is ‘being’ system as well. So, the students are able to know what, why and how they learn something and produce people who really know what, why and how they live (‘being’ means). All of them are purposeful, meaningful and can be used in real world life. Teachers become the facilitator of learning process. So, teachers have to learn as well as the students. All of these things make me learn and grow up to be a better person, based on my own perspective.

Being an IB teacher is fun and challenging in the same time. However, I do like and enjoy the process. Being an IB teacher makes me a better learner. I am encouraged to keep on learning, keep on the questioning, find things I want to know, do research, reflect what I do and have good relationship with others and even with myself. There are many things that have to do to provide and facilitate students with the fun, meaningful, engaging and challenging activities. I must prepare them well by collaborating with the fellow teachers. Many strategies can be used to provoke and build students’ good understanding and curiosity. When I plan those of all with the other teachers, I can learn from others also. Sometimes, we get stuck or think that we need to try the new strategies, so we can find them from many sources around us, like books, internet or OCC (Online Curriculum Centre). New strategies in learning are needed to do to make refreshment and of course we have to consider the appropriateness with the students’ needs.

As an IB teacher, I am encouraged to be an assessor who has to think how to assess students’ learning process through the activities provided. I can assess students’ learning process anytime, anywhere and any single moment I have. Activities planning and providing learning activities are parts of assessing students’ learning and understanding. Everything that has been planned is flexible. It means they can be changed if I think that they have to change and have to do the other plan to meet the students’ needs. When I face this kind of situation, a big sensibility and keep involving in the learning process itself are needed. When I actively involve to my students’ learning process, I also learn. I learn how to handle and manage the students, how to make students’ understand and inquire what they have learned, how to know what students already know, how to make students’ learning and thinking visible, how to provoke students’ creativity, how to provoke and know students’ actions, how to give the students fair and equal chances in learning, etc. When I actively involve to their learning, I keep on questioning many things and I know, at that time, I am learning as well.

The IB system makes me learn and understand more how to live better. Through the deeper understanding of the importance of multiple intelligences in learning, I become appreciate more the differences in learning. How can we assess the students who don’t like drawing with asking them to draw? It’s normal for every people that they can be stuck and cannot deliver what they already understand if they have to do what they don’t feel comfortable with. It makes me think more how to know students’ understanding effectively and give students opportunities to show what they know with the ways that they feel comfortable in. So, I can get what I need as an assessor. Assessing by considering various intelligences in learning makes me learn more to appreciate and understand that everybody is different and has something special in themselves. No one can judge that somebody is better than others. Who knows which one is better? How can we decide that? Can scores inform us about somebody’s intelligences? Refer back to what I have experienced in my school life experiences, I couldn’t get the good scores sometimes when I really understand the big ideas in the same time.

Being an IB teacher makes me learn in the same way of what IB concerns to do. People deserve an appreciation of what they have inside. Positive, encouraging and suggestive feedbacks are always given in every single chance I have, orally, physically (like showing two thumbs up, giving smile or helping hands when the students need supports), in written forms like on their works or report cards. So, the students will know what they already do well, what they already improve and what they still need to improve. Can scores give these kinds of information?

I remember that my feeling was moved when collaborated in Three-Way Conference when I had to see my students presented and shared what they have learned to their parents and had a discussion with students and parents about anything related to the students learning process. My feeling was moved also when facilitated and contributed in Students-Led Conference when students independently presented and shared what they have learned to their parents and had a discussion with their parents about anything related to their own learning process. For me, these kinds of learning process are touching, meaningful and encouraging for the students. If I am the student, I will feel I am appreciated because all my works and what I already do are appreciated and I can discuss what I still need to improve, my difficulties and what I love to my parents freely. There’s no scores and rank that will limit me and just label me as a certain kind of person. From Three-Way Conference and Student-Led Conference, I also learn to find what students really need for the next step of learning, have a reflection of what I have already done so far for their learning and think more the effective learning strategies for them.

As the teacher, I am involving and keep on learning through the whole process of the teaching-learning process. Being a teacher doesn’t mean that I can stop learning. I have to keep on learning because the world is changing every seconds. How can I just stuck and satisfied to what I have while the world is keeping on changing? International mindedness to see how the world works have to build up in every single time I have in order to see how the world is working and changing. I have to adapt well. Having a lot of reading is not enough because for me, talking about teaching means talking about practices and experiences. Like what I and other teachers do regularly is learning from what the other teachers do in the class and having teachers’ evaluation and get feedback from others about what we already do so far in the class.

Planners that I and the other teachers make regularly also teach me many things. The planners teach me how to organise meaningful and effective learning process for every student. I am growing up with the planners. I learn step by step in completing the planners. For me, completing the planners means thinking the whole process of the teaching and learning. From the planners, I can have a reflection as well on what I did and plan the next activities for the students. Collaborative meeting with the fellow teachers and regular meeting with the PYP coordinator also help me to learn many other learning strategies, share teaching-learning experiences and inform the teaching-learning sources.

Learning through the personal development sessions, teachers’ conferences and job-alike sessions make me learn more, relearn, refresh what I know, recharge the energy and inquire more. When having these events, I always become enthusiastic because I know I will get more experiences in teaching and learning. After having these events, I often have a discussion with myself. All of them is about my learning of being a teacher and a facilitator of students’ learning. I always feel that the more I know, the more I want to know. Further and deeper questions about things that I know more better come up after these sessions. Sometimes, I feel that I still haven’t known many things after learn about something better and it will encourage me learn more and more.  From this kind of feeling, I know I grow with better understanding. Learning is going and never ends. If I stop asking and feel satisfied of what I already know means I stop learning.

For example, when I had the latest personal development session (PYP In School Workshop) and I learned more about working with the planners, I reflected on what I already did so far. There are many things that I need to improve. Ibu Gaynor as the PYP coordinator never gave me the negative feedbacks and always gave the positive and encouraging feedbacks starting from I firstly taught here. Having the personal development sessions makes me reflect that there are many things I need to improve on my teaching. In the same time, personal development sessions develop and enrich my knowledge, understanding, experience and my skills in teaching. Luckily, our PYP coordinator also regularly give me and the other teachers weekly personal development session on Tuesday and open the chances for me to learn and ask many things related to the teaching and learning process.

Learning is on-going process. There is no end of this process. I want to adapt to the world by keeping on changing through being inquirer. Because I know that the more I learn and know something, the more that I want to know more. So, how can we just stay and feel satisfied of what we have now? We are growing. We are changing. The more I feel enough, the more I will leave and stay behind. The world will leave me. 

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I decide to stay hungry and stay foolish so that I will keep on learning, growing and improving. Let’s be a better person to create a better life and a better world. Be a long-life learner. Stay hungry, stay foolish.

Resty Amalia

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