December 06, 2021

What is your teaching philosophy? – Suzanne Bacon

What is your teaching philosophy? How has this originated and can you evaluate how your educational touchstones will impact on the teacher you aspire to be?

Central to my teaching philosophy is my belief that children need to have a positive, nurturing connection with their teachers and feel safe and comfortable in their environment in order to learn effectively. Many of the learners that I meet are encountering new experiences for the first time - they could be new to the country, culture, school setting or language. It is easy to forget how young they are, and behind the uniform and face masks are children who have each encountered vastly different circumstances on their individual life journey into my classroom. Building relationships and creating a nurturing environment are central to teaching these (and all) children. Evidence shows that “children with close teacher–student relationships tend to perform well academically including having higher scores on achievement tests, more positive attitudes toward school, more engagement in the classroom, less retention in grade, and fewer referrals for special education” (Bergin & Bergin, 2009, p.152).

Flowing from this core belief is my behaviour management style, which is relationship-centred and restorative. Reflecting on my recent school experience working as a classroom assistant, I have noticed an emphasis on developing relationships with the learners to promote good behaviour. The school uses a restorative approach to manage behaviour and I have found that this allows behaviour to be managed whilst maintaining and restoring the relationships between learners, and between teachers and learners. This preserves the secure teacher-student relationship, which I think is so crucial to allowing students to feel safe and comfortable in order to learn.

When I think of an inspirational teacher, I think of my secondary school geography and geology teacher. He taught with such passion that we never noticed that some of the material that we covered was actually quite dry, and his enthusiasm was infectious. I intend to promote a love of learning (UK Teacher Standard 4) using my own passions and enthusiasm. I will seek engaging, stimulating ways to develop understanding in my learners in the hope that this gives them a lifelong love of learning.

I believe that learning is so much more than just the subjects which are learnt in the classroom during the school day. When I reflect on my own education, I had a very positive experience with a strong emphasis on academic achievement at my secondary school, but the elements of my education that helped me to develop the character strengths that I now rely on such as resilience, open-mindedness, and teamwork were really developed outside of the classroom through activities such as orchestra, playing team sport, Girlguiding and joining special interest groups such as the school’s conservation club. These activities gave me access to people, experiences and challenges which I didn’t encounter in the traditional classroom. This is highlighted in Principle 8 of the TLRP Ten Principles of Effective Learning - Recognises the Significance of Informal Learning. I aspire to be a teacher who creates and encourages opportunities to learn outside the classroom for my learners during and outside of the school day, as I believe that they are crucial to developing confident, balanced children.  

References

Bergin, C. & Bergin, D. (2009), Attachment in the Classroom. Educational Psychology Review, 21 pp.141-170

Department for Education (2011). Teachers’ Standards: Guidance for school leaders, school staff and governing bodies.

Crown Copyright. M, J & Pollard, AJ 2011, 'TLRP’s ten principles for effective pedagogy: rationale, development, evidence, argument and impact', Research Papers in Education, vol. 26, no. 3, pp. 275 - 328.


December 02, 2021

Using Machine Learning to offer students optional feedback on their draft essay

Using Machine Learning to offer students optional feedback on their draft essays: A joint initiative with Progressay

By Rebecca Mace (Progressay), Moktar Alqaderi (Progressay), and Dr Isabel Fischer (Reader of Information Systems at Warwick Business School)

As part of their Digital Marketing and Technologies module WBS students had this summer the opportunity to receive feedback generated by Progressay, an EdAI organisation, on their draft assignment essays. The initiative was in response to students asking for more academic writing support. The project received formal ethics approval from the university. Students who decided to participate found the recommendations received useful, e.g., ‘I found the graph that showed where the references come from very useful. It is good to see what kind of research my peers do’ and ‘I think it is relatively objective and trustable, because the different evaluations it gave were consistent with my expectations.'

We discussed the importance of ethics for this type of projects already in previous articles and blogs, e.g.:

Rebecca Mace, from Progressay, explains here her thoughts on the ethical foundations of Progressay generally and this project in particular:

Progressay is a disrupter in the EdTech world, not only due to the technology, gamification and feedback systems it offers, but due to its deeply human desire to change things from the inside. We are educationalists, not technologists, at heart. Although we work developing EdTech and EdAI, our fundamental aim is to make things better for those who struggle to find ease of access with regards to learning. Our ethical value system is almost hardcoded into everything we do. Here is how:

  • We are acutely aware of the potential for algorithmic bias and seeks to avoid this by working with schools and universities that have significant diversity in their student population. This goes a long way towards ensuring that training for the machine learning model does not reflect common problems such as race or class bias.
  • We firmly believe that access to education is a human right, however, having access is so much more than having the ability to attend but feeling you can fully participate in the process. Truly understanding the teaching and learning available is fundamental to a deeper understanding of ‘access’. We facilitate this through gamified and adaptive learning activities for students.
  • We focus especially upon making higher achievement a understandable process and understand what reduced transparency within the marking process can do to student aspiration. Our tool marks the essay and shows the student/lecturer in a detailed way how the grade generated was arrived at. It does this using written feedback and infographic dashboards, but also a series of targets for how to improve. Aspiration is translated into achievable reality.

Screenshot of Progressay generic feedback interface

Screenshot of Progressay generic feedback interface

  • We adopt an honest and open approach that allows students, lecturers and parents access and understanding into how the system works. It presents this in understandable and easily accessible dashboards. The information it presents is designed to be immediately useable. Students and lecturers can feel informed and knowledgeable about fine grained information relating to their work. Transparency is facilitated through fairness and trust.

Progressay references screenshot

Progressay references screenshot

Progressay strengths and weaknesses screenshot

  • Humanity, not technology, is at the core of everything we do. Education is about the quality of relationships that can be developed, fostered and maintained. We have specifically designed its entire platform to retain this educational ideal adopting an “augmented” approach, where humans are helped rather than replaced. It positively impacts upon areas such as marking workload, leaving increased time (and energy) for lecturers to focus on in depth knowledge of their students’ strengths and weaknesses. It also retains a human in the loop throughout with lecturers having the option to override the system, change feedback, offer alternative comments to their students. Furthermore, the system has been developed to promote student agency. Having deeper engagement with ones learning through transparency of grading, coupled with gamification to enhance understanding, has been shown to increase student efficacy and have positive impacts on motivation and engagement.

In short, we have deliberately and mindfully developed our platform to reflect its ethical values. At the heart is a drive to enhance social mobility by democratising access to education. Those involved in developing the platform have an in-depth understanding of educational theory, as well as years of experience teaching, lecturing, and working with students at all levels. They know what limited transparency, conscious and unconscious bias, a lack of motivation, discrimination, and reduced expectation can do to a student’s educational aspiration. It is out of personal experience and a real desire for change, that we have sought to develop a tool that speaks to these issues directly.

For more information about this project please contact:


November 09, 2021

Scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL)

Scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL): How to get started with a journey in mind

By Dr Isabel Fischer (Reader of Information Systems at Warwick Business School) and Dr Kerry Dobbins (Assistant Professor, Academic Development Centre)

Scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) represents the opportunity for critical reflection both on generic pedagogic practices as well as on subject specialisms. It leads to knowledge‐in‐practice, knowledge‐of‐practice and productive disciplinary engagement.1 Based on a panel discussion at Warwick’s Education forum here an overview of how we got started, as well as lessons that we have learned along the way. We hope that the following ten suggestions might help colleagues either to get started, or to reflect on and engage with discussions on their SoTL journey. For colleagues considering applying for promotion, we have loosely aligned our suggestions to our interpretation of the current promotion research bands.


Approx. Band 2:


1.Decide on your interest and intellectual position, this might be pedagogic and/or disciplinary. For Isabel, this was (and still is) the intersection of Ethics & ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance), Technologies, and Education. For Kerry, it was initially the interplay between particular HE policies and individual teaching practices and has now evolved to communities of practice, particularly in relation to SoTL.

2. Start reading articles in the area of your interest, taking note of what was researched and how it was researched, i.e. methodology. Google Scholar can be a good place to start finding relevant articles and you might also try an online education database like British Education Index (BEI). One learning point here is that it is actually good to align yourself with relatively recent and frequently cited papers rather than trying to develop something completely new. Another learning point is that you might want to consider a systematic literature review to perhaps be able to convert this later into a ‘systematic literature review and research agenda paper’.

3. Develop your research proposal including ethics approval. Both of us have conducted several research projects on our own modules (with students explicitly agreeing to these as per ethics requirements) and this is our favourite part of SoTL. For all of our projects, we have learned so much from students. Action research for your own teaching is also quite popular for SoTL and if the activity is purely for professional development purposes, it would not require ethical approval (though it would still have to be conducted in an ethical manner of course). For those new to SoTL and education research, you might start first with a question that you have about your teaching in relation to your area of interest. From there, you could identify various sources of evidence that already exist that will allow you to gain insight into your question, e.g., published studies, module evaluation data, student feedback, performance data, etc. You might then begin to make changes to your teaching practices using insights gained from this evidence-informed approach whilst building confidence to develop a more formal research proposal. It is important to note that it is possible to engage in SoTL without conducting primary research but through engagement with literature and/or communities of practice. Up to hear, this represents roughly band 2 of the research-related academic promotion criteria (there is no band 1).


Approx. Band 3:


4. Having gained these insights, it’s time to talk to colleagues at conferences and/or events. There are always a range of internal and external conferences as well as sharing practice events. These are good ways to connect to a wider network of colleagues and build confidence in presenting your education-focused work to broader and interdisciplinary audiences. My (Isabel’s) first conference presentation was at Advance HE. I have since expanded to international conferences and also organised my own specific events. While applying for conferences and organising events seems time consuming, these are extremely useful both for disseminating own findings and for getting feedback on these, as well as for hearing about and getting inspired by other research. Presenting at conferences and being a reviewer for journals translate roughly to band 3 of the promotion criteria. And don’t forget, presenting at conferences might also help with demonstrating impact in FHEA or SFHEA applications.

5. Similar to conferences, a good way to engage with other academics and to understand more about research as well as teaching, is to become a reviewer for journals and/or an external examiner. One way to do this is to apply for these roles as they are often advertised. Another is to talk to colleagues about their external engagements as they might be looking for reviewers for the journals that they are editing. Do not hesitate to contact external editors too as most are always eager for reviewers and usually very happy to be contacted directly. This is particularly relevant if there is a journal which focuses on your area of interest and many articles on topics that you find interesting are published in that particular journal. Once you have been a reviewer for some time as a next step you could consider guest editing or assistant editing of journals.


Approx. Band 4+:


6. The more you engage with academic literature you start to understand some of the complexities of publication, especially the length it takes from writing a first draft to publication. For high impact journal the review and resubmit process takes several years. You might therefore want to consider developing a portfolio of output and consider writing a blog, producing some videos and/or writing article(s) for journals with lower impact factors. Many journals publish conceptual or case-study papers as well as research articles. All output, independent of the journal’s impact factor, might be helpful for future FHEA or SFHEA applications as by disseminating to colleagues and/or the public - rather than ‘just’ your own students - these demonstrate an increased sphere of influence. For promotion criteria, depending on the journal’s impact and ranking this might be classified as band 4 and if sustained even higher.

7. You might consider inviting co-author(s) for your research projects. Of course, you can also consider doing so from the start of your research process or alternatively colleagues might ask you if you want to join some of their research projects. Both of us really enjoy working with co-authors, our second favourite part of SoTL after the primary research, however, the downside is that your co-author(s) might work at a different pace to yours or have different aspirations of journal impact factors.

8. Instead of peers as co-authors you might want to consider doing a joint student-project where students are the co-authors or co-creators. This is also very enjoyable, however, when initially starting with SoTL, you might feel that you want to exchange ideas with colleagues who are more or as experienced rather than guiding students.


Outlook:


9. Possible barriers? You might think there is not enough time for SoTL (and you should check your departments policy on workload allocation for SoTL), or you might encounter ‘representativeness heuristics’ where you are compared to an existing prototype of colleagues who have already published many articles, however, this might only be you thinking it (no need to feel like an amateur or imposter, or to hide your educational research!)

10. Finally, and possibly most importantly, SoTL allows you to be slightly less theory-driven and more action oriented than traditional research. Hence, SoTL provides you with the opportunity to make change happen. Enjoy the journey!


References


Gregory J. Kelly, The social bases of disciplinary knowledge and practice in productive disciplinary engagement, International Journal of Educational Research, Volume 64, 2014, Pages 211-214, ISSN 0883-0355

https://warwick.ac.uk/services/humanresources/internal/academicprocesses/academicpromotion/academic_promotions_criteria.pdf


October 25, 2021

AI Ethics for Assessments in Higher Education

Warwick University logo

AI Ethics for Assessments in Higher Education: A project example of an interdisciplinary social sciences undergraduate summer research scheme

By Isabel Fischer (Warwick Business School) and Thomas Martin (Economics)

Warwick’s Social Sciences offer students and faculty from economics, education and Warwick Business School (WBS) the opportunity to take part in an interdisciplinary summer research project to improve awareness and understanding of collaborative research work on a topic of the students’ choice. One of this summer’s group focused on AI ethics for assessments where students applied the EU Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI to Higher Education Assessment. Students concluded that despite the limitations of AI, AI has the potential to make assessment processes in higher education more effective and fairer. Students suggested that AI should be embraced, but only with human oversight and agency, and with clear stakeholder communication in place.

Linden Davison, a student from the Department of Economics, commented: “Getting involved in the UG research scheme broadened my awareness beyond my single subject discipline - working in a field I wasn't aware existed when we started! It was a pleasure to work alongside students from different departments and be guided by such engaging, motivated staff alike.” Toby Pia, also from Economics, added: “Throughout my URSS experience I improved my ability to explain complex ideas in a more understandable way. I also got better in conveying a balanced argument as previously I tended to get more entrenched into one side of a debate rather than looking at it from both sides.”

At the end of the project each student produced a research poster, depicting one of the seven overarching themes of the EU Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI. Below an example by Shubhangi Bhatt, a student from the Department of Education Studies, on Transparency.

poster_example.pdf

AI poster (text only version)

Finally, here a link to five articles that explain how AI could be made ethical and trustworthy:

https://www.wbs.ac.uk/news/five-reads-you-need-to-make-ai-ethical-and-trustworthy/

And you also might want to read here how AI can (positively) influence education generally:

https://www.wbs.ac.uk/news/five-areas-ai-can-have-the-greatest-impact/


October 08, 2021

Making the most of the spaces we have: Design principles for successful hybrid and hyflex learning

The Co-Design Research Group at the University of Sydney in Australia, have posted an interesting article on Making the most of the spaces we have: Design principles for successful hybrid and hyflex learning.

To read the full article see:https://cdrg.blog/2021/10/08/making-the-most-of-the-spaces-we-have-design-principles-for-successful-hybrid-and-hyflex-learning/


September 24, 2021

Pedagogies for Social Justice

The University of Westminster has launched its Pedagogies for Social Justice website which you may find useful. The website link and a link to a podcast discussing educational justice, anti-racism and coloniality in higher education is shared below. The podcast is hosted by Kyra Araneta and Fatima Maatwk.


August 02, 2021

Scholarly blogs part two

Scholarly blogs: An assessment tool to strengthen students’ personal brand by developing an online presence (part two)

Isabel Fischer, Associate Professor Information Systems and Management, WBS

As discussed here, as part of their assessments, WBS Digital Leadership and Design Thinking students submitted scholarly blogs as an authentic assessment in preparation for the digital workplace and to increase their online presence. Many students submitted very engaging blogs, getting readers ‘hooked’ from the start by asking and answering insightful questions. Some examples can be found here:

For further questions or comments on introducing scholarly blogs as an assessment tool please email: Isabel.Fischer@wbs.ac.uk


July 26, 2021

Podcasting for a module: I dare you! by Bo Kelestyn

Podcasts are everywhere. More precisely (according to PodcastInsights.com), there are over 2,000,000 podcasts (up from 1,750,000 in January 2021 when I initially wrote this article). So, why not throw in my own attempt into the void, I thought.

You get a podcast everyone gets a podcast













They are easy to start, very low cost to record and share, and everyone is entitled to an opinion. I follow a few and listen to them as part of my self-care routine. I thought they could be an interesting medium to experiment with for my new module. I designed a lectureless module (ahead of the global pandemic, I’ll have you know!) titled Innovation 101 (CH3G4 and CH417) and podcasts were a good way to invite guest speakers. I was hugely inspired by the Distance Design Education community, led by Derek Jones (@plug103 on Twitter) from The Open University, and the Design Theory and Methodology module at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, who have been using podcasts as a pedagogy for a number of years.

What I did

I shared a 20–40-minute episode each week with a guest speaker asking the same questions about their innovation journey, relationship to creativity, failure, things that excite them, and advice to young innovators. These were really open ended, so some episodes delved deeper into certain topics, but overall, my aim was to show the universality of fear of failure and the ‘innovator’ label whilst celebrating diversity of thought, stories, and ideas.

What I thought would happen

This module was designed for UG Chemistry students, and I thought they were going to boo me out of the Department at a mention of the word ‘podcast’. The module was an experiment and I enjoyed talking to my guests so much! To hell with it, I thought.

What actually happened

Students L-O-V-E-D it! Yey!

What students loved

  • Using it to get into a work mode and start their day: as simple as that. It was a semi-academic resource that made them feel like they were working without really doing anything. It was also a great way to ease into more intense content for my and other modules.
  • Interacting with something other than videos: switching up the format was a great way to spark students’ curiosity and allowed them to multitask whilst listening.
  • Having an option: The podcast was optional, but more and more students chose to reflect on it and make connections to the podcast when posting their weekly reflections (15% of the module was assessed on engagement with weekly reflections in MS Teams). Having a choice and directing their own learning made a difference. This was an optional module, so I did have that advantage.
  • Learning from industry and diverse practitioners: with so many students taking the module to explore their interests, start thinking about their place in the world and the impact they wanted to make with their degree, this was the perfect opportunity to show there was no one way to succeed.
  • Learning from academics: including academic staff voice was one of the best decisions and sparked so many ideas for my work on community building. Students really enjoyed learning about a more human side of academic superstars in their department they have struggled to reach out to or connect with.
  • Expanding their network: I closed each episode on ‘how can our listeners connect with you and your work’ and encouraged all students to reach out to guests whose stories or ideas resonated with them. Having the opportunity to connect with others, especially during the pandemic, extended the cohort’s sense of community and their individual networks. It also gave me huge amounts of confidence and reassurance that I was doing something worthwhile. At least one student secured a job opportunity by connecting with one of the speakers and many other sought mentorship and career advice.
  • The filtered and ‘approved’ content: there is so much out there and whilst students and I also did a lot of sharing and curation of resources and other podcasts, students loved having an ‘official’ and ‘approved’ podcast they could turn to.

How I started

I approached colleagues and friends that I really looked up to and I knew I would vibe with. I also approached a few Chemistry colleagues to give the podcast some familiarity and to talk to colleagues I knew less about. I was genuinely curious to find out more about how Chemistry does and sees innovation!

I asked for advice from students who do this so well. The Human Entrepreneur podcast hosted by Luke Netherclift and Varun Balsara, two of my former students, collaborators and just all-round superstars. Incidentally, whilst I was agonising myself with the should-I-shouldn’t I dilemma, they released a bonus episode on how to get started with podcasting, which gave me that sign from the Universe. They recommended Zancastr, which was so easy to use and although I paid for postproduction, it just took away any worries of losing files or compromising on the quality of the recordings. I bought some cheap headphones (I was not prepared to invest in anything more sophisticated at that stage) and asked Luke and Varun to be my first guests. That recording gave me so much confidence! Thank you, guys!

I did not edit any of the episodes or add any background music to it. I simply did not have the skills. I just trusted my gut and made sure my guests were OK with the raw and unedited format. I really wanted to challenge the perception of innovation, creativity, failure that students held and so the more unedited, raw and human centred my podcast would be, the better. Hard to believe, I know! It was scary and I had no idea what I was doing. But it did work, and I am still learning.

What now?

Podcast back by popular demand. Aside from doing this again next academic year, I am co-creating an extension of the module podcast with a student as a way to share stories of our academic staff members. Students crave proximity to academics and want to know more about their stories. This extension podcast will feature academics from the Department to help with building our sense of community, start conversations between different groups of staff and students in the department, and of course to inspire students with different stories of success. To me, these are some of the key pillars of a distinctive learning experience.

My inner critic tells me this success is due to some of the more specific learning needs students had during the pandemic. My inner mentor tells me if I succeeded this year, it could only get better. The podcast would not have been possible if it wasn’t for my amazing guests and all the support and encouragement from students, colleagues and friends. Thank you so much to each and every one of you!

If you are an educator, I dare you to give this medium a go (and if you have, I’d love to connect and hear how you got on!), especially if it terrifies you or you are finding yourself turning your nose up at it! There are so many reasons why it is a good idea to mix things up for your students and for your own development. My favourite among them is students really appreciate any help with filtering out the noise, particularly when it comes to online resources. 2,000,000 podcasts would give anyone information paralysis. I had some great results with it, and I think it will truly make your module stand out. It might not work for all disciplines, but I think it is a perfect way to add diversity to many subjects and create a real network for your learners and for yourself. Happy podcasting!

Where do I start?

You might find the 2021 TEALfest session titled Podcasting: Learn from a Professional with Jemima Rathbone very helpful. I also recommend checking out Descript for editing, good quality mics from Blue, and Pixapay for free podcast jingle music.


June 07, 2021

Education Research Conference Review – Fionnuala

Education Research Conference Review - Monday 14th December 2020. The University of Warwick. Written by Fionnuala Spicer - Primary PGCE student (Early Years Specialism)

On Monday the 14th December, the University of Warwick invited leading academics and teachers across the field of Education to share their research with current primary and secondary Warwick PGCE students. The conference began with an inspirational keynote speech from Jeanie Davies on the intricacies of the ethical teacher and why character matters in the teaching profession. The conference followed with a selection of seminars and workshops from varying professionals drawn from universities and schools across the United Kingdom who engaged our PGCE cohort in their research. The PGCE students including myself self-selected which sessions to attend and many opted for a pick’n’mix approach where we opted in and out of a number in order to hear as many speakers as possible. The research conference complied with the core content framework which details the compliancy for teacher training programmes in their entitlement of all trainee teachers to expose PGCE students to research.

I was particularly encouraged when listening to Jeanie Davies speak on the importance of character in the teaching profession. Jeanie challenged us to reflect on the different interpretations of character education and to consider our position as trainee teachers. I learned from Jeanie that character can be caught through the ethos of a school when it is embedded within school values, but it can also be taught to children through educational experiences which enhance opportunities for character development. Jeanie invited us to reminisce on our own school experiences, including reflecting in three words on an inspirational teacher who made an impact on us. I opted for the words “believed in me” as I remembered a teacher who touched my life and helped me overcome my difficulty in reading. Other PGCE students provided answers which followed on the same topical thread with words such as “’approachable”, “kind”, “caring”, “honest”, with one trainee also stating, “gave me opportunities”. I found this last answer particularly poignant as I hold the belief that education is a powerful tool which can be harnessed to address the inequality which still exists in our society. A highlight from Jeanie’s speech is it provided a moment for us as trainee teachers to reflect inwards and consider our personal motivations for pursuing a career in teaching. Jeanie highlighted the fact that most teachers enter the profession for altruistic reasons, because we want to make a difference, and this is a theme which was acknowledged and supported by many academics throughout the conference. Jeanie reminded us that there are complexities within teaching as teachers are regularly required in all aspects of education to make quick decisions with conflicting demands, many of which do not have a clearly defined right or wrong answer. However, it illustrated to me that engaging in moral matters is embedded within teaching and we therefore have a key role to play in showcasing our ethical knowledge and a moral responsibility to help our students become good people.

The next session I dipped into was Georgina Newton and Dr Holly Heshmati’s session on empowering pre-service teachers to develop personal and professional resilience. I was drawn to this session as I was already aware that teaching has one of the highest turnover rates of any profession and I was eager to explore how I could build my resilience considering this. I learned that resilience is not fixed or innate as it can be learned and strengthened in different contexts. Georgina and Dr Holly emphasised how a resilient teacher displays high professional competency to overcome challenges and shows empathy towards children who struggle at school. The theme of resilience was conveyed through an honest lens as Dr Holly highlighted that it is only realistic to expect students to be resilient if teachers exhibit resilience themselves and build a capacity for resilience. However, I appreciated that the session also acknowledged that each of us has a limit with what we can cope with as although resilience is important, it is essential that teachers are supported and feel able to be vulnerable and confide in others when in need. This was also supported in Professor Des Hewitt’s session as he highlighted how if we want the best for our students, then we need the best for teachers also. This also builds on Jeanie’s keynote speech which exemplified the importance of values, motivation, agency, and empowerment and how it should extend not just for children but to teachers also.

The theme of resilience was particularly relevant in advance of the next session I attended with Becki Coombe on supporting the engagement of disengaged and disaffected learners. This workshop really challenged me as a trainee teacher to not simply see children’s behaviour at face value but to instead consider the root cause. Becki highlighted that students who are disengaged or disaffected in their learning often have additional factors to negotiate such as early childhood trauma, a chaotic home environment, medical needs, and disorders such as ADHD. I learned too that children’s disengagement in learning can also be down to our practice as teachers if we do not differentiate enough or if there is a lack of creativity to sufficiently engage children’s interest. This spoke to me especially as it brought the accountability back on to us as trainee teachers to improve our practice and consider ways in which we can engage these children and help identify underlying life issues which are impacting them. During my first teaching placement, my mentor instilled in me the importance of building a relationship with my students and getting to know them and this was reiterated in this session as a way to help students engage. Becki helped us explore practical ways in which we can give our students quality time outside of the classroom such as leading extracurricular activities because if students feel invested in then they will have a much better experience to learn. Becki highlighted how by us investing in our students and showing them they matter, we are automatically helping place them in the third tier of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs with a sense of belonging.

I found this session particularly useful also as it opened my eyes to how teachers should aim to contribute to a positive learning environment by conveying expectations, setting clear boundaries, remaining consistent and embodying the ‘glass half full’ mindset. Becki revealed to us how we should “catch students being good” and pay just as much attention to positive behaviour as we would negative, to build rapport and provide students with stability. Becki highlighted how a good sense of humour will carry us far in our role as teachers and that a “teacher look” is an essential in any teacher’s toolbox! The focus on being present and available to our students really stood out to me as it linked to Jeanie’s prior session on how we can support children’s character and be a stabilising presence in children’s lives. A lesson that I will apply from this session in my future practice is to treat each lesson like a story - each lesson should have a beginning, middle and end but everyone desires the happy ending at the end of the story. Therefore, I will ensure that the ending of each lesson is a positive experience for my students so that they leave happy and willing to continue engaging in learning.

However, the session also highlighted some of the problematic issues in practice as it raised the importance of not limiting resources or provision which have been recommended for children to help them cope in the classroom such as time out cards. However, Becki highlighted the underlying tension as there is often a tendency to cap these at a certain amount when instead any adjustments used as a mechanism to support students in their learning should be wholeheartedly utilised, welcomed and embraced without limit.

Other sessions I also popped into included Sue Johnston-Wilder’s seminar on addressing maths anxiety in our students and ourselves. The session revealed the sense of fear that is typically centred around maths and which permeates many students’ mindsets. However, it was positive to note that we as trainee teachers can play a pivotal role in changing that trajectory and we can move students on from a place of helplessness to one of confidence in maths. This theme of confidence was also drawn upon in Professor Des Hewitt’s session which focused on the ways in which research can make sense of primary and early years settings. The session supported much of what was also conveyed in Becki’s session with an integral focus placed on the importance of us knowing our students and understanding their learning journeys. This session reaffirmed what I learned in Becki’s session as Des conveyed how through understanding children’s personal circumstances, we can help them overcome obstacles in their learning. In this session we were asked to also reflect on teachers who were memorable from our school experiences and most of the answers centred on teachers who were funny, caring, passionate and who helped us through difficult times in our lives. Therefore, there was a sense that it is the pastoral element of nurturing teachers which keeps students going. Professor Des Hewitt’s session was also a particular highlight for me personally from the research conference as it promoted social justice in the way in which it advocated for inclusion and challenged us as trainees to consider what defines an inclusive school which avoids discrimination. We were encouraged in the session to choose an aspect from the ten principles of inclusive leadership which we felt had particular significance for us. I selected aspect four which stated how inclusive leaders acknowledge and value diversity and champion a culture of tolerance and diversity. However, I felt it important to note that whilst I agree that we must champion a culture of diversity, there are complexities within the language of ‘tolerance’ which demand acknowledgement as diversity should not be just ‘tolerated’ but wholeheartedly embraced, welcomed, recognised and valued. I appreciated how the session placed a focus on looking for the ability in people and seeing that talents can be expressed in a multitude of ways such as through art, music or social dimensions rather than from a wholly academic perspective.

To conclude, as a result of attending the research conference it has become clear that there are implications for trainee teachers which require acknowledgement. The fear surrounding Ofsted and the culture of compliance was drawn upon in different sessions and the problematic issues were built on further with the recognition that professionalism in education is often determined as compliance and by measurable aspects such as attendance or punctuality. There was a mutual understanding within the research that there is at times a disconnect between what universities say is good practice in schools and then what happens in the classroom. Another problematic issue raised from the research is how there is limited training for teachers on moral development in schools which has the potential to impact on practice and how students learn about character. The research conference was a worthwhile event as it prompted us as trainee teachers to think beyond practice and explore how as teachers we need to act in good sense and pass this on to our students also to prepare them for the challenges that lie ahead. The speakers provided us with the opportunity to consider the complexities behind student’s behaviour, motivation, life circumstances and this is particularly useful as it will carve us into kinder, better trainee teachers. The research conference has equipped us as trainee teachers to understand research, engage in research and to recognise its value. The research conference also provided a physical example of the advantage in universities and schools collaborating to help each other in enriching teachers’ practice, student’s learning and in fulfilment of the moral commitment to contribute to the wider professional community. The research conference has made me appreciate my entitlement to work in a research rich environment and to teach in a way which is informed by the latest research for the benefit of my students and wider school community.


May 24, 2021

What is my teaching philosophy? – Yu

What is your teaching philosophy? How has this originated and can you evaluate how your educational touchstones will impact on the teacher you aspire to be?

My teaching philosophy strongly believes that, the core requirement of a student and the key mission of an educator is the wielding of knowledge by love. The importance of love in teaching are continuously been talk about in both Western and Eastern culture. According to Hooks (2003), Love in education empowers the recognition between the educator and the learner. Moreover, what I believe is in order for a person to be a successful educator, they need to love what they do in principle, as well as love what they do every day - Teaching.

It is through love that one can form a real and true connection with the receiver of knowledge. If love is allowed to create an open channel of communication right from the start, the reward will be throughout the entire journey and beyond. Through love, the teacher can show that they truly care about the student and therefore make them pay more attention to the lesson and the knowledge from this particular teacher. I believe that this will create a bond that will last well beyond the academic term, and therefore the lessons taught will have a better chance of retention as well.

Contrary to a lot of opinion, I believe that a “friendly” teacher can go a long way in connecting with the students. Exchanging smiles, genuine greetings and concern, enquire about extra-curricular and other activities in order to widen the scope of the relationship with the students. I fully understand that this approach suits my natural personality and I can connect to my students on a much deeper and broader level. The trust factor increases and also the willingness to accept the knowledge from me are increased.

Teaching is a selfless way of giving out the knowledge and the experience to student. On another hand, teaching has always being my passion. James(1996) mentioned that teaching without passion is only knowledge delivery and tantamount to rote or mechanical skill. Hence, I strongly agree the significance of teaching with passion. Indeed, it is a very raw and basic emotion come from our heart that allows the student to be notice and detect easily. At the same time, hopefully to get reward of a passionate learner, James(1996). As an educator, we have to accept that there are countless ways for us to show our passion, whether it is for the technical aspects of the daily lesson, or the application of the subject in everyday life after the learner left school in the future, or maybe just passion through an interest in getting to know the student individually and creating a deeper personal bond. Most important, it is educator’s responsibility to continually keep the passion, presenting the enthusiasm and build the maximum interest for all learners of my subject.

References

Hooks, B.(2003).Teaching community: a pedagogy of hope. New York, NY: Routledge.

James, W.(1996). Teaching with a passion. American economist. Education connection. Winter 1996. Page199-200. https://watermark.silverchair.com


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