Reflection Paper by Shah Zaki

Education is one of the prominent and very important part of life in the contemporary world. Twenty first century is the century of technology, science and communication. However, people are completely equipped with all the necessities of today’s century, still there are some countries which are far back from the up-to-date technology. Afghanistan is one the countries in the central Asia which has been suffering from civil war for more than three decades. Not only this civil war ruined factories, governmental and private sectors’ offices and buildings, but also most of the scholars and educated people left the country. After withdrawing the Taliban Group from the power by national and international forces in 2000, the new page of life opened in Afghanistan. Since then the Afghan government especially the Ministry of Higher Education has been funding on upgrading academic capacity of university teachers by providing MA, PhD and short term educational programs. Recently, Ministry of Higher Education sent teachers from different universities in SCL and OBE workshop in Malaysia for two weeks. In order to reach for the right person, the selection process undergone several steps.

The university high authority introduced me officially to this program and pointed that there are some forms and questions to be answered, and the final decision will be taken by the university of Malaysia and Ministry of Higher Education of Afghanistan. I filled the forms and answered questions in an easy type. After being accepted in SCL and OBE program, I passed a skype interview in 2nd July 2017 which was the final process of selection and fortunately I was succeeded. It is worth to mention that the selection was based on the knowledge and completing the requirements not based on any other views and relationships. The SCL and OBE program was not something very new for me because in MA study and other workshops that I participated outside of the country directly and indirectly focused on group works, pair word, group discussion, poster presentation and so on which are the characteristics of this program. Although I had a rich background of SCL and OBE and somehow implemented in my classes, but lack of facilities prevented me to implement them in a proper way. My subject is linguistics and second language acquisition in fourth and third classes, I use text book and provide supplementary material from the internet and public libraries. Since these two subjects are a little bit difficult than others, I am completely flexible in teaching and provide them life examples. Throughout the semesters students do group study, pair work, class presentation, midterm and final exams as well as mini research about the topic. I found that group study and mini research are very helpful for the students, for instance, they did a mini research on Persian and Pushto languages’ phonemes and morphemes in comparison with English language. By doing the research on the topics, they understood the similarities and differences of three languages. So I would like to conclude that I had knowledge about SCL and OBE and somehow implemented in my classes.

Although, I had some knowledge about SCL and OBE and attempted to use it in my classes, still there is a need to enrich it through joining short-term courses, workshops and seminars either inside of the country or outside of the country. The SCL and OBE workshop in Malaysia had a very directly influence to enhance my language teaching professionalism. Every single activity of this workshop was very important and enlightened my mind in order to teach usefully and professionally, especially the SCL theoretical and practical parts of it. For instance, group activities, poster presentations and class discussions. These kinds of activities not only were very influential in enrichment of my knowledge, but also paved the way to get others opinions and way of dealing with their classes at their universities. In contrast, some of the points in the book and presentation of trainers which are not directly related to the topic should be reviewed, for instance the examples and samples which were taken from their engineering classes. Moreover, the jury or committee who were evaluating the demos did not act professionally, especially the young guy who was a little bit heavy than others. Whenever, we are evaluating someone we should highlight the strong points first, then indirectly correct the weak points, for instance, if you could present like this that would be very good. Even when he (the young heavy guy) who wanted to present something could not mange and give the clear cut direction to the class, that’s why he took five to seven minutes of us. In addition, workshops or presentations have different policy than studying in classroom sitting. The trainees should have some spear time to relax and should be allowed to put his/her comments during the program. But the jury or committee who were evaluating raised the angry of participants, and even sometimes trainers spoke very directly with the trainees which are not academically. I personally have experience of joining international conferences and workshops outside of the country and see how mutual respects are considered strongly.

In generally, this workshop was one of the most useful and important ones I have ever participated and learned many things from it. I constantly was trying to keep myself up-to-date in language teaching methodology by studying books, listening to presentations and joining short term programs. In SCL and OBE workshop, I learned how to have influential, useful and standard teaching system by implementing all SCL activities. Moreover, I learned how to align the course outcome to department outcome. Honestly, these two points shifted me to standard, academic and professional way of fruitful teaching and learning system.  I would like to acknowledge that, to be realistic the SCL and OBE workshop had many strong and important points that made me to review my teaching policy and bring significant changes on it. For instance, I reviewed my course policy, put students in studying groups and saw the huge differences in learning.

Academic workshops have directly and indirectly influence on the participants’ mind and make them think, review, design future plans and even bring huge change on his/her mindset. I was not an exception, this workshop also made me do a flashback on my teaching system and compare it with what I learned from the workshop, then bring suitable changes. I improve two things, firstly, I try to implement SCL system in my language teaching classes accurately, secondly, I align every single course outcome to department outcome. In order to keep alive, the knowledge of the participants and use their knowledge, ministry of higher education should open a SCL and OBE office at the universities to help others constantly. Every participant of this workshop committed to hold a workshop for at least thirty university teachers to learn SCL and OBE and then implement in their classes. I do two things to motivate my colleagues, one, I hold an official workshop at the university and train them, two, I personally talk with them about the importance of it in the department or social gathering.

In conclusion, I would like to mention that SCL and OBE workshop in Malaysia was excellent. I learned how to implement SCL in my language teaching classes very professionally. Besides, I understood how to assess and evaluate my students’ progress, my course policy and then align course outcome.

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