All entries for December 2021

December 20, 2021

Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

Cat tapping a bauble on a Christmas tree with its paw





We would like to take this opportunity to thank our readers and our authors for their continued support throughout another strange and frankly surreal year. There will be no new posts across the Christmas period but we will be back in the new year with fresh teaching philosophy posts and more information about the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.

Best wishes

The WJETT Blog Team


December 13, 2021

What is your teaching philosophy? – Aimee Barker

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?

Classroom environment is said to be one of the most important factors affecting students' ability to learn. According to (Dorman, Alridge & Fraser 2016) cited by (Young, 2014, p.1) students learn better when they view the learning environment as positive and supportive.

It is within my belief system that we all have the ability to learn. Humans are instinctive learners; we are continuously absorbing and organising an abundance of new information that we are exposed to each and every day. However, although learning is a natural process, I believe that for many students, they can come to fear learning, through worry of failure or disappointing the many anxious adults around them (Holt, 1964, p.1). Subsequently, I believe that it is the responsibility of the teacher to inculcate a positive relationship between a student and their ability to learn, whilst also ensuring that we are immensely supportive.

My current teaching philosophy - that learning is an intuitive human process that needs to be positively curated - derives from my own learning experiences. Historically, I believed that I was not naturally ‘academic’. Throughout primary and high school I struggled to find my strengths and always focused on my weaknesses. Therefore after completing my A-Levels, I found that my confidence to continue with further education was low, thus I decided to train as a hairdresser. Hairdressing is seen as an ‘easy’ choice for many young people and admittedly, I thought the same. It was only when I turned 21, after 3 years of working in the ‘real world’, I realised that I was capable of studying, I just needed the confidence and motivation behind me, in order to succeed.

As you can imagine, after graduating from University in 2018 with a first class honours degree, I was in complete shock at my academic capability and realised that I had in fact ‘feared’ learning. This I believe was down to the ‘old school’ educational setting that I had previously attended, where a supportive, nurturing environment ceased to exist and we were told to “get on with it”. (Moore, 2013 cited by Hargeaves, 2017) states that fear is rarely discussed within teaching pedagogy given its potential impact on learning.

To me, the classroom should be a community (whether it be in class or online), to which students feel safe and confident to learn, without fear of ‘getting it wrong’ (TS1). We all have strengths and weaknesses, it is the teacher who must endeavour to adapt teaching to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils (TS5). It is my belief that in order for a child to flourish and fulfil their greatest potential, a teacher must create a strong classroom community. By classroom community, I mean a trusted, motivational relationship between the teacher and the student, as well as continually building a student's positive attitude towards learning and confidence in oneself as a good learner.

I have no doubt my teaching philosophy may change. However after reflecting at present, I realise the responsibility as a teacher to continually strengthen a students positive outlook upon their learning and create a safe space, where students ideas, answers, voices and opinions are heard and valued (Stead & Sabharwal, 2017).

References

Department for Education. (2011). Teachers Standards: Guidance for school leaders, school staff and governing bodies. Secretary of State for Education, pp.10-11.

Hargreaves, E. (2017). ‘Authority and Authoritarianism in the Classroom’. Children's experience of classrooms: Talking about being pupils in the classroom. UK: SAGE, p.31.

Holt, J. (1964). How Children Fail. Middlesex: Penguin, p.1.

Stead, J. and R, Sabharwal. (2017) Learning without fear: A practical toolkit for developing growth mindset in the early years and primary classroom. Wales: Crown House Publishing, p.35.

Young, J. (2014). The importance of a positive classroom. USA: ASCD Publications.


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:


December 2021

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