All entries for Monday 21 May 2018

May 21, 2018

My teaching and supervisory journey – Jen Rowan–Lancaster

Jen Rowan-Lancaster Teaching Fellow and MA Supervisor in CTE

My career in education began as a Teaching Assistant (TA) in a primary school setting. As a ‘fresh-out-of-uni’ graduate I was unsure about a future career but I knew above all else I had a love of learning. Stepping into a primary classroom for the first time was a huge learning curve and from day one I was hooked.

The primary classroom was extremely busy and standards and expectations were high. I was however fortunate to work with an outstanding teacher who was also the SENCO. Watching her teach and model learning was an invaluable experience, it provided the opportunity to emulate best-practice and to gain confidence before developing my own ‘teaching-persona’.

After a couple of years as a TA I intended to make the leap onto a PGCE, however working with the SENCO had inspired an interest in safeguarding so I spent the next few years working as an unqualified social worker supporting children, young people and their families. Through multiple roles I worked in a secondary school setting and for a branch of social care. These roles meant that I learned first-hand of our childrens' complex family backgrounds. I supported families with drug and alcohol dependency, truancy issues, mental health diagnoses, families in witness protection and more. Later when I qualified as a teacher, I often thought of these families and strived to remember that some children had been extremely successful just to be present in school that day.

As a teacher I knew that I was responsible for teaching and learning in my classroom, but I was also responsible for supporting children to understand how to become successful learners. To develop children’s self-efficacy, self-regulation and critical thinking (Tarricone, 2011) my previous school worked on a number of metacognition strategies (Flavell, 1976). My focus as a teacher then moved from seeing a child as an ‘empty vessel to be filled’ (Freire, 1970) to engaging children as critical thinkers in their own learning. Through working on Growth Mindset strategies (Dweck, 2012) whereby children work on a ‘can-do’ attitude that focusses on effort rather than a ‘fixed-ability’, children in my class became more engaged with their learning and more resilient. Through working in this way I also developed my own Growth Mindset (Dweck, 2012) and decided to enrol on a Masters course (MA). Combining my love of learning with trying to remove the little voice in my head that said ‘only clever people do MAs’, I focussed on effort. I read as much as I could, linked my MA topic with practice in school so that it was familiar to me and focussed on resilience rather than self-doubt.

After passing the MA I have now moved onto an Education Doctorate (EdD) which again is another process that requires a bucket-load of resilience and determination. I have also changed roles and am now a Teacher Educator and MA supervisor. Being an MA supervisor is a wonderful opportunity to support students on their MA journey. MA students at CTE are teacher-researchers at the ‘coal-face’, they live and breathe their research areas which is what makes them interesting and relevant. They have to work extremely hard balancing their teaching practice, studies and personal/social life however they develop excellent skills through this process. MA students regularly tell us that their research has positively informed their teaching practice and has often been used to supplement or overhaul whole-school processes. From a supervisory perspective it is fascinating to learn about different theoretical models, epistemic perspectives and current school practice.

If you would like to learn more about our MA programmes at CTE please follow the link below:

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