Posts tagged Orken

Using Content in Kazakhstan’s Context (Part III)

Finally, the last part of the brochure explains the future goals of the Professional Development program (PDP) that we launched last fall of 2010 at our western university in Astana, Kazakhstan.  Tomorrow, we will have a closing graduation ceremony with my ten PDP students.  It will be a proud moment for them to receive their “Certificate of Completion” after working long, hard hours for 20 weeks of this program.  I hope it will continue next year.  I’ve heard rumors that those in charge want 50 teachers, maybe as many as 100 teachers to do a PDP curriculum like this.  We shall see what happens…

Furthering the Main Goals of the four courses of blended learningThe targeted students should be Orken teachers and recent graduates of pedagogical institutes from throughout Kazakshtan. Secondary schools in Kazakhstan need to be integrated with higher education goals and objectives, sadlymany secondary school graduates are not adequately prepared for the rigors ofuniversity studies in a western setting. The secondary education curriculum needsto support the goals of this University for future success of the students.Those goals as stated by the President of Kazakhstan are the use of creative solutions toproblems by innovation and using modern technologies.
This goal can only be accelerated and managed if the Kazakh teachers are givenadequate instruction on how to use multimedia programs, teacher-studentcommunication tools and social networking programs. That way the Kazakh teachers can efficiently teach English in all skills of reading, writing, speaking andlistening more effectively to young students who are receptive to this form ofinstruction that uses the self-access approach. That is why all teachers throughout Kazakhstan should be equipped with the high standards of information literacy.That was my mission from the start and to the very end for my PDP students.
Kazakh teachers need the extra training and instruction in information literacyand the use of modern technology especially. These courses were targeted to helpfacilitate the teaching of English in a meaningful manner where the burden istaken off the teacher to “know-all” and placed squarely on the students’ to haveintrinsic motivation to learn on their own independently. Because we are living inthe information age, students will have to take more responsibility for their ownlearning autonomously while the teacher becomes less teacher-centered and allowsthe classroom to be more student-centered.
However, the parents of school children need to become involved in this processas well so that the learning community is not only with teachers and students.Sometimes the parents may expect teachers to be wizards and to make their children geniuses. Teachers in Kazakhstan need to be given higher status bylearning and knowing more. Otherwise, it will be impossible for the public to beopen or ready to have specialists in the field of technology, if the teachers are notgiven adequate training and continuing education courses as the President of Kazakhstan knows is important in any company or corporation.
I believe that if you teach the teachers properly, the rest will follow. I believe the changes that are needed are those in education and that is why an achievable goal is to eventually have a Masters degree program for teachers so they are betterequipped to teach modern technologies to their students. These four courses aremerely a certificate program that can be thought of as a pilot project to eventuallyturn into an MA degree program. I believe from the caliber that I have seen inthe teachers I have worked with this past year, they are very capable. Once they learn different teaching methods and the use of information literacy, it will have a tremendous ripple effect with the Kazakh students for the ultimate good of this great country of Kazakhstan.

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My Main Goals for Teaching in KZ (Part V)

Just a year ago I taught academic English courses in Almaty at a westernized university.  I had the rare privilege of teaching 100 Kazakh students in five different classes. I was dedicated to teaching to the best of my abilities in the given environment.  However, a few of the Kazakh or Kazakhstani teachers at this university were hostile to what I was attempting to do as a foreigner.  Yes, I would even say some of the Kazakh administrators didn’t want their boat to be rocked that they were comfortably sitting in.  They were of the camp of “this is the way we have always done it.”  However, in some cases they made up their own rules to maintain power that they had scratched and clawed to achieve over the worker bees. (I left behind some very good Kazakh teachers and students)  All are hurt by these extreme politics where the supposed “winners,” who are paid very well, are those still in control. They are clueless to the changes going on in the rest of the world through modern technology. THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY DON’T KNOW!!!

I can’t even imagine the rancor and animosity that exists in my former place of employment in Almaty.  I feel very blessed to be a part of this new vision at the new university in Astana.  I am surrounded by Kazakh teachers who are very teachable. Therefore, I think that their testimonies to what is innovative and of modern technology is my best advocate for why I  continue to teach in Kazakhstan.  Please read on what the Ministry of Education people are reading of my year end report translated into Russian. I want my hopeful tone of change to ring true for them. The best is for them to read what their own Kazakh teachers think and what they have experienced this past fall semester.

VI. My PDP students comments on a range of things they have learned over the last ten weeks:

Student #1 “Edusoft is a new software program which helps us teach our students.  We can add new units, different topics for our students.  Mainly, we will be able to control our students’ achievement and progress with the help of this program.  When I was a student, I used this program.  But it was very old version. Compared with old version, new one is convenient and more useful for us (for teachers) and also for students.”

Student #2 “I especially liked the product from EduSoft as I was familiar with this program beforehand at Orken school.  All our teachers liked it and sent their thoughts on this program to the management company of Orken.  But no attention was given to that program….So EduSoft gives us lots of opportunities to supervise the students’ progress.  At the same time making the content of the program on our own, which really encourages the students to learn real English.  In general, it would be better to set this program up especially for schools in Kazakhstan. I’m sure it will affect the students’ progress and increase their interests to learn English.”

Student #3 “It is always interesting to go through different kinds of courses and studying something new is of course challenging. However, teachers must always study something new in order to keep up to date with new generation and to be always interesting for the students, otherwise, it won’t motivate students from someone who is behind.  Nowadays our new generation is very computerized and of course, we, as the teachers, have to bring new technologies in our classes and create new methods of teaching.  And here at the university [in our PDP classes] we are learning so many useful things that will help me to gradually create new method of teaching. And, of course, there are still so many things for me to learn and I don’t want to stop learning them.”

Student #4 “I want to use everything I learnt here.  I didn’t know about the power of Internet before, now I appreciate it so much!  We have interactive boards at our schools and an access to internet (though not to all the sites) so I can show everything to them [students]. I like especially blogging – it can develop our students’ cognitive skills, writing skills, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, everything. We can achieve several aims by blogging – educational, cultural, upbringing.  Educational means grammar, vocabulary, spelling.  Upbringing – learn to hear other people’s opinions and respect them but at the same time defend your own.  Cultural – you learn more about some new things, culture, traditions of other countries. It’s great!!!

Student #5 “www:whenever, whatever, wherever”

As you may have guessed already, this is about opportunities with access to Internet

“Whenever” is the convenience I had and have: I can accomplish my assignments whenever I am free and want to.  Just have to finish till due time. Yay!!! To NU Public Wi-fi

“Whatever” is the opportunities to be heard and to be paid attention throughout the world with Internet access.  The most important right now for me is my blog and my surveys.  I pity one thing, that I was not introduced to Survey Monkey or Web Master Survey long before when I wrote my paper for Pedagogical Institute.

“Wherever” is the dimension I got with blogging.  Wherever you go and wherever you could be, if  you just click you URL for your blog, you will be again have followers to your blogsite. Dimension is that anyone from any corner of the universe no matter Spaniard, English or German can read about things happening here in Kazakhstan, know something about Kazakhstan.”

Student #6 “I like the idea of using blogging to develop learners’ writing and what’s more essential, decision making abilities.  Sure, it won’t be easy to start a new trend in Kazakh schools. We face the problems of schools not sufficiently provided with computers and of course, not every student has access to the Internet both at school and at home…Using blogging on the writing lessons has many advantages, the students write willingly; they enlarge their vocabulary and learn to work independently.”

(to be continued)

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My Main Goals for Teaching in KZ (Part III)

If you have been tracking with me the last several days, I am all about teaching. Being an educator in Kazakhstan can be a bit tricky.  Those Kazakhs who are dedicated teachers receive a low salary but teach on just the same. I’m humbled by those I have been in contact with the three and half years I’ve lived in Kazakhstan.  Unfortunately, those teachers who have very good English skills have been wooed away by large corporations that can pay a much better salary for their translation of English to Russian or Kazakh.  While others are BORN teachers and know they belong in the elementary or secondary classrooms of Kazakhstan whether urban or rural settings.  In some cases, a few teachers do not raise their own young children as their parents take care of the grandchildren while they are living in the capital city of Astana to educate other Kazakh’s children.

Teachers are a dedicated lot and they clearly are not in this profession for the money, at least that is true for me.  I’m not in Kazakhstan for the money but rather the rewards of making a difference in the lives of a few who can make a major impact on others.  My husband and I feel we are “called” to be here in Astana, Kazakhstan and thus the word “vocation” has a special meaning for us.  Teaching is my vocation and my calling.  See what this dedicated Kazakh teacher wrote about creativity and her own teaching and raising her daughter:

“Let me give you an example from a hard working Kazakh teacher who admits that the kind of teaching she has done in the past may need to change, she sees it with bringing up her own daughter.  Here’s what she wrote when I had her respond to a talk on Ted.com given by Sir Ken Robinson titled “Schools Kill Creativity”:

“I mostly  liked  the speaker, who  spoke  about  schools  killing  students’  creativity, really  less  attention  is paid on students’  creativity  and  their own growth in my country.  I’m saying this with great confidence,  because   as being  a mother and  a teacher  I focus  my students’  attention  on  the main subjects, namely,  mathematics  and   languages, nothing  more. In this way I absolutely agree with  Sir Robinson , who  gave  the audience  true  examples  how   parents and teachers  both   kill   kids’  creativity, making them learn mathematics  and  English more than other subjects. After his speech I understood my own mistake, for example, my daughter is only  seven years  and  she  draws  very  amazing   pictures. Unfortunately, I don’t allow her to keep on drawing, because I hate drawing myself   and  want  her to  be brilliant at Mathematics and English.  So, I notice, how I am slowly  killing her creativity.  Sir Robinson proved  everything  with great  facts, which  appear  in the  worldwide  and needs  to  be supervised  much  by the government.”

I conducted an initial survey that I called “Education in a Modernizing Society” and I got a total of 30 respondents who are Kazakh. Then I did another online survey with only ten questions, I got 19 people to answer my ten True/False questions.  The following are what I learned from those who have been on the Bolashak program or other exchanges that have exposed them to education in U.K. or U.S.

  1. All Kazakh schools and universities should employ teachers who are strict, authoritative figures:  T=47.4% F=52.6%
  2. All Kazakh teachers should be very easygoing and less dogmatic in their teaching. T=89.5% F=10.5%
  3. All Kazakh teachers should enable their students to tolerate uncertainty and handle risk. T=94.7% F=5.3%
  4. All schools and universities throughout Kazakhstan should inspire obedience to the collective rather than academic achievement. T=5.6% F=94.4%
  5. All Kazakh schools and universities should reform quickly by re-educating Soviet trained teachers in new kinds of pedagogies. T=84.2% F=15.8%
  6. Kazakh teachers should be rewarded if they are committed to learning along with their students and coloring “outside the lines.” T=94.4% F=5.6%
  7. All schools and universities throughout Kazakhstan should suppress initiative and independent thought: T=26.3% F=73.7%
  8. All schools and universities should instill loyalty and compliance to the teachers wishes and demands. T=42.1% F=57.9%
  9. Kazakh students should be encouraged and allowed to think for themselves. T=94.7% F=5.3%

10. All Kazakh schools and universities should nurture their students self-expression by expanding and improving their writing skills in English T=89.5% F=10.5%

The responses are representative of those former graduate students who are now employed as former Bolashak scholars and now working at the new university.  The only two questions that I need to research and finetune are questions #1 and #8.  Perhaps that is something I can explore further with my Orken teachers and PDP students. Maybe the re-wording of these two questions will make it less ambiguous.  The rest of the questions with their answers begs for this PDP program to continue and to have 100% backing from those in authority who want to improve the educational system of this country.

(to be continued)

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My Main Goals for Teaching in Kazakhstan

While on Christmas vacation I did a year end report for the Ministry of Education to hopefully READ and make some important decisions for the future of education in Kazakhstan. As a western educator, I needed to justify what I am doing in Kazakhstan.  Teachers typically are not trained to defend their position on why they exist or negotiate for better pay or a different job title with a description of their work.  But this is Kazakhstan and there have been so many rapid changes that as an American, I have to roll with it.  All the other Kazakh teachers are having to roll with the changes as well. What I wrote for the first part of my report has been translated into Russian, it was the year’s schedule of activities I had my PDP (Professional Development program) students do and then the course descriptions for two semesters.  The following will help explain my western logic and rationale for my teaching in Kazakhstan, I hope it makes sense and that it translates well into Russian.

III. Main Goals for the four courses of blended learning

Targeted Students – Orken [means “intellectual” in Kazakh] teachers and recent graduates of pedagogical institutes from throughout Kazakshtan

A Kazakh proverb “Hard in learning, easy on war” means that the struggle in education is worth it in the end.  If I understand this proverb correctly, if we continue the fight long enough we will achieve much. Another Chinese proverb provokes the kind of thought I want to encourage in all my classes: “Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.” As a western style teacher who has been a student in many student-centered classrooms but has taught in teacher-centered environments, the freedom for today’s Kazakh students to be autonomous in their learning is important with the advent of the computer and living in the Information Revolution.

Secondary schools in Kazakhstan need to be integrated with higher education goals and objectives, sadly many secondary school graduates are not adequately prepared for the rigors of university studies in a western setting.  The secondary education curriculum needs to support the goals of  the new university for future success of the students.  Those goals as stated by the President of Kazakhstan are the use of creative solutions to problems by innovation and effective use of modern technologies.

This goal can only be accelerated and managed if the Kazakh teachers are given adequate instruction on how to use multimedia programs, teacher-student communication tools and social networking programs.  By doing so, the Kazakh teachers can efficiently teach English in all skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening more effectively to young students who are receptive to this form of instruction that uses the self-access approach.

Unfortunately, primary and secondary education teachers have been confused by the chaos of the huge educational reforms that have been necessary to keep up to the 21st century.  When there is a vague curriculum concerning technologies that is still “under construction” and when there are no specific standards or benchmarks by which a teacher can know that they are knowledgeable enough to disseminate information via computers to their young students, it eventually impedes on the progress of the nation of Kazakhstan.  That is why all teachers throughout Kazakhstan should be equipped with the highest standards of information literacy.

Kazakh teachers need the extra training and instruction in information literacy and the use of modern technology especially as begun at the new university. These courses are targeted to help facilitate the teaching of English in a meaningful manner where the burden is taken off the teacher to “know-all” and placed squarely on the students’ to have intrinsic motivation to learn on their own independently.  Because we are living in the information age, students will have to take more responsibility for their own learning autonomously while the teacher becomes less teacher-centered and by necessity allows the classroom to be more student-centered.

However, the Kazakh and Kazakhstani parents need to become more involved in this process as well so that the learning community is not only with teachers and students.  As one Orken teacher claimed: “Sometimes the parents may expect teachers to be wizards and to make their children geniuses.” Teachers in Kazakhstan need to be given higher status by learning and knowing more, especially with computer technology. Otherwise it will be impossible for the public to be open or ready to have trained specialists in the field of technology. If the teachers are not first given adequate training and continuing education courses as the President of Kazakhstan knows is important in any western company, the singular goal for 2030 will fall woefully short.  To say, “This is the way we have always done it” will not work anymore.

(to be continued)

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