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Jason Etienne ~ Personalized Teaching Guide.

September 2018

Link to my portfolio: https://jasonfuturelearn.weebly.com/

I’ve been teaching for about 8 years now and it has been a rollercoaster ride, both
professionally, personally and emotionally. It’s also been perhaps ‘the’ best job I’ve ever
had. I initially worked in the film industry for 10 years as an art director on movies and
eventually decided that I needed a change in career. I had previously done some teaching
prior to my film career at Brighton Technical College, teaching animation, so I had had a
little experience beforehand.

Prologue

“The best teachers are those that tell you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see” ~
Alexandra K. Tenfor 1

As I mentioned on the course, I feel that Education should be at the heart of a


diverse and inclusive organisational culture, whereby everyone in feels valued and
can become self-actualised. People should be given a fair chance and be treated
respectfully. I feel my students should be treated in a more 'bespoke' manner, where
differentiation is factored into their learning experience and with a more active role
within that too. My impression of inclusive learning is that it's multifaceted. It's
good to be aware of differentiated learning styles and different backgrounds of the
students. I think ultimately, it's about building working relationships with your
learning, finding out what 'makes them tick' and having more of a 'conversational'
approach to teaching. Students like to feel part of the process and even add to the
teaching, so I'm always encouraging that. Often, when I’m teaching, a student will
call out and tell me something about what they have discovered with the software
and I'll always encourage them to show the class and even I learn something in the
process!! I believe teaching is more akin to a discussion about ideas and how to
transfer skills to bring those ideas to life. Teaching, particularly as an oral tradition
has been around as long as recorded history and I see teaching as continuation of
values that are passed down from generation to generation in an attempt to explore
inner and outer space. Ultimately to access truth about life and the nature of reality.
I see our jobs as teachers as that of 'facilitators' to give students the tools to find
their own story in life and communicate their findings to the rest of the world.







The Road Ahead

Like any journey, it’s always best to plan ahead. Indeed, the famous quote from
Baseball Legend Yogi Berra which exclaimed, “If you don't know where you are
going, you'll end up someplace else”, is very true by all accounts. One of the main
bedrocks of this is creating an inclusive space where all learners can participate and
feel part of a collective journey.


“The aim is to get the students actively involved in seeking this evidence: their role is not
simply to do tasks as decided by teachers, but to actively manage and understand their
learning gains. This includes evaluating their own progress, being more responsible for
their learning, and being involved with peers in learning together about gains in
learning. If students are to become active evaluators of their own progress, teachers must
provide the students with appropriate feedback so that they can engage in this task. Van
den Bergh, Ros, and Beijaard (2010: 3) describe the task thus: Fostering active learning
seems a very challenging and demanding task for teachers, requiring knowledge of
students’ learning processes, skills in providing guidance and feedback and classroom
management. The need is to engage students in this same challenging and demanding
task.” ~ John Hattie ‘Visible Learning’. 2

One of the things that I’ve found in teaching is that you can learn all you can about the
teaching process ‘lift up the bonnet’, so to speak, and look at the mechanics but that it’s
about the journey itself. Sure, you need training in the art of teaching and the various
philosophies and practices that come with it such as; What do I mean by learning? How
are values and beliefs realized in classroom activities? What about goals – what skills are
we looking for students to obtain? What are my methods of interaction and assessment?
How do I plan to develop and grow as a teacher, to best suit the needs of the learners? All
the above is not necessarily a ‘plateau’, but more of a continual process of exploration.
One of the key challenges I’ve found in my classes (and from talking to other teachers) is
to encourage peer to peer learning and help learners become more self-reliant, critical and
encouraging to themselves and others. I'm all for students taking learning into their own
hands - even working from home in the context of ‘blended learning’, but I have found
that they still need guidance and this continues to be a factor in my experience of
teaching.

So, in many respects, I am in full agreement with John Hattie’s assessment with the
aforementioned and his comments about peers learning together about ‘gains’ in learning.
My interpretation of this or perhaps, an illustration of this, would be in ‘Distance
Travelled’. This could take many forms from peer to peer reviews, learning plans to
group activities which include programs like Padlet, so that learners can see within the
time of one single lesson – what they knew before and after the session.
Pedagogy

I always try to ensure that I have a deep knowledge of the subjects I teach as it’s
imperative that the learners have a solid grounding in the subject matter. Games Art, in
particular certain software that is used, is constantly changing. This can be a challenge for
learners, so I am always in a state of research and practice to stay ahead of the curve, so
to speak. As well as a strong understanding of the material being taught, I also
understand the ways learners think about the content, be able to evaluate the thinking
behind students’ own methods, and identify student’s backgrounds and approaches
through classes orientated around differentiated learning.

Embedding
I also ensure that I embed functional skills into the assignments that are set. Although this
is often embedded in schools and further education, I find that it’s important to continue
this practice – especially in that literacy and numeracy skills are important for everyday
life!

Literacy:
• Ideas generation and storytelling techniques for videogames are at it’s core,
as well as research into literary works and articles/blogs. I emphasize these
aspects through the use of activities at the beginning of class with the use of
Padlet or group work where students work in pairs to establish ideas and
concepts which draw on literary works and even adaptations into films and
games is around storyboarding or concept art. There would be evaluations
and essays too, with an emphasis on learner’s grammar, punctuation, spelling
and Harvard Referencing.
Numeracy:
• Game characters and environments are all based around geometric shapes.
My aims are to take learners through the study of the human/animal figure
and how it can be broken down into 3D shapes, including facial features. This
is through the use of perspective, geometry ~Topology etc.
• I introduce learners to perspective and how it’s use to create believable
virtual environments, as well as looking at environments through different
virtual lens ratios.
• Environment and design requires a certain degree of mathematical usage in
regard to designing and measuring buildings to create environments to scale.
ICT:
• Students are actively encouraged to research on the internet, as well as
through e books, and the use graphic software such as Word, Web
development tools such as Weebly and Wix, ‘Photoshop’, Maya, 3D Coat and
Unreal Engine to gain confidence in their abilities with computers.
• There are also opportunities to do presentations of their projects with the aid
of power-point and online software such as Prezi and Padlet, to further
increase the technological skills and also improve their presentation skills
and self-confidence.

In terms of my approach to teaching, I like to help establish a very creative, relaxed,


happy and inclusive environment, as I see this as being crucial to a learner’s
development. I usually start projects within a group framework so individuals with
different learning styles are supported and supporting to others. This is especially useful
for keeping students within the ‘Virtuous Cycle’; for example: Self-belief that what is
being taught is ‘doable’ and within their power; Motivation through the discovery that it
can be done, through their own abilities and the encouragement and assessment through
the me the teacher, themselves and their peers.

“We are global in our outlook and are impactful in all that we do”
“We are innovative, enterprising and entrepreneurial”
The Coventry Way 5


Dynamics of National and Global Competition in Higher Education 6


One of the things that I try to inculcate in the teaching of my learners is that they should
think of themselves as global players. The democratization of technology has given
learners the ability to become truly independent producers and connect with individuals
through a range of platforms and with the increasing use of technologies such as ‘Block
Chain technology (Currently used for Bit Coin and the likes).
In class, they are encouraged with their activities, to look at how games developers
operate – either through discussion, research or blogs. They pitch their ideas to the rest of
the group and allow for feedback on those ideas. They are also encouraged to look at
future markets and how they can publicize themselves and increase their SEO on the
internet.

Technology

I certainly think that technology has a key role to play in the future of education,
particularly with blended learning in mind. Education is going this way, particularly
with interaction and students wanting to be more involved with the learning
process. I see this happening generally in society in the way that people create
content online - people want to be part of the process and indeed, play a part in the
direction. Feedback is going to be more continual as time goes on, very much in the
same vein as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc.

According to an article in Business Insider,

“…technology is already sweeping through classrooms as educators and


developers create more and more products designed to enhance education.

New technologies like AI, machine learning, and educational software aren't
just changing the field for students, they're shaking up the role of educators,
creating philosophical shifts in approaches to teaching, and remodeling the
classroom.

With an influx of new learning models available, traditional educational


methods are bound to evolve in the next decade.” 3

This does however, come with a caveat in the sense that it’s imperative that we
keep the human element in the process. There’s already evidence to show the
addictive nature of technology and software and this is something that does
need to be addressed, sooner, rather than later.

1. Social media addiction and cyber bullying


2. Rise in physical and mental health problems
3. Disconnect from the real world
4. Too much Edtech can be overwhelming for students. 4

I think that the role of technology needs to be more considered and perhaps a third way
would be that it’s embedded more in the real world, perhaps through Augmented Reality.
I would love to take my classroom out of the building and into the world. The
technology is there, but of course, this is dependent on budget.
Epilogue

I have found teaching to be one of the most rewarding careers I've ever had, as
there is nothing quite like the feeling of imparting your wisdom and knowledge of
art, animation and film design; including life/work experience, to students and
seeing them develop their ideas and grow into confident and creative people in their
own right.

References
1. Google. 2018. Growth and Greatness. [ONLINE] Available
at: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=M_VpCwAAQBAJ&pg=PA105&lpg=PA105&dq
=“The+best+teachers+are+those+that+tell+you+where+to+look,+but+don’t+tell+you+
what+to+see”&source=bl&ots=-
TnGD4iDv1&sig=P_SQsMmVUlk4VFyxXIiBIafMt4o&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjR1_K6
iqbdAhXsIMAKHSPMDw8Q6AEwCnoECAMQAQ#v=onepage&q=“The%20best%20teac
hers%20are%20those%20that%20tell%20you%20where%20to%20look%2C%20but
%20don’t%20tell%20you%20what%20to%20see”&f=false. [Accessed 6 September
2018].


2. Hattie, J., 2012. Visible Learning for Teachers.

3. Bernard, Z. (2018). Here's how technology is shaping the future of education. [online]
Business Insider. Available at: http://uk.businessinsider.com/how-technology-is-
shaping-the-future-of-education-2017-12 [Accessed 6 Sep. 2018].


4. Bernard, Z. (2018). Here's how technology is shaping the future of education. [online]
Business Insider. Available at: http://uk.businessinsider.com/how-technology-is-
shaping-the-future-of-education-2017-12 [Accessed 6 Sep. 2018].

5. http://creatingbetterfutures.coventry.ac.uk


6. Marginson, S., 2006. Dynamics of National and Global Competition in Higher
Education. Higher Education, 52(1), pp.1–39.