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January 20, 2020

How using a recognised reflective framework has helped me reflect on and improve my practice

PDP 2: Discuss how using a recognised reflective framework has helped you reflect on and improve your practice as a teacher or learner teacher - Ryan

Using a reflective framework is necessary to improve teacher practice and to continue to develop and understand new research and methodology in education. The following is a brief reflection on how using a reflective framework has helped me improve as a trainee teacher.

The first few lessons I planned and taught were to small reading groups of six learners which I ran on my own. Although I reflected on areas of success and improvement, there was no reflective framework to help deepen my reflection and focus on specific areas I needed to improve aside from my weekly mentor meetings. Without observation from an experienced educator, my reflections were made in the absence of the knowledge of how to improve beyond the surface level. Using Johari’s window, the benefits of a reflective framework that utilizes mentor input becomes clearer in the collaborative work and expanded knowledge a mentor brings to one’s own reflection allowing my knowledge to shift from the blind to the open (Thompson, 2018). Mentor meetings and formal observations allowed me to learn different techniques for a lesson “hook”, formative assessments, and behavior strategies which in turn provided more meaningful self-reflection for subsequent lessons.

These early reflections, carried out in the calm space after lessons, were instrumental in fine tuning lesson planning and carrying out more effective activities in class. However every lesson plan maintains its form only until the lesson begins as the teaching has to adapt to the needs of learners in the moment. Schon describes this as ‘Reflection in Action” as teachers are constantly monitoring and adapting their teaching to how learners respond during the lesson, and the follow up “Reflection on Action” focuses on the effectiveness of different activities, strategies, and methodologies as they occur in the classroom (Moon, 2013).

Reflecting only through an autobiographical lens, as described by Brookfield’s lenses, provides a limited scope of reflection, and applying the peer lens in the form of a mentor or more knowledgeable peer, provides a more experienced and detailed perspective allowing for deeper reflection and enhanced practice to take place. However, Brookfield argues that to truly gain insight and understanding of the class, another lens of reflection needs to be that of the student. Taking reflection even deeper is asking not only is your planning, lessons, and teaching effective, but does it work for all of the students in the classroom? (Brookfield, 2017) This enables reflection that goes beyond the classroom but also looks at teaching pedagogy on a larger scale. On trainee teachers, Larrivee argues the questions need to be not only, “Am I doing it right?”, but “Is this the right thing to do?” (Larrivee, 2008, p. 344).

Effective practitioners use various types of reflection throughout the day as they fine tune and improve their teaching. There are various reflective frameworks to help improve teaching practice, and it is vital to focus on your personal reflections while including one’s peers and the learners perspectives as well. As educational theory and practice is always developing and striving to improve alongside a changing world, the role of teaching is a never ending, life long journey of learning driven by reflection.

References:

Brookfield, S. (2017) Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. John Wiley and Sons, San Francisco.

Larrivee, B. (2008) 'Development of a tool to assess teachers’ level of reflective practice'. Reflective Practice, 9(3), pp. 341–360. https://doi.org/10.1080/14623940802207451.

Moon, J. (2015) Reflection in Learning and Development, Theory and Practice, (39-53). RoutledgeFalmer, London.

Thompson, C. (2018) The Magic of Mentoring, Developing Others and Yourself. Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, Abingdon, Oxon.


April 15, 2019

Reading books on behaviour management

One of the biggest fears for someone just entering the teaching profession is often around behaviour management in the classroom. Some of the thoughts that may enter your mind are ‘Will the students listen to me? ‘How will I deal with bad behaviour?’ and ‘What should I do if I can’t control the class?’. As a trainee, it can be quite overwhelming when you realise that the profession you are about to enter requires you to stand in front of 25 young people for 6 hours a day and help them to learn. There are many horror stories floating around the internet and also through word of mouth which can very easily discourage even the strongest willed people from this career.

I was one of the people who thought I would struggle with behaviour management but by the time I started teaching, I had covered a wide range of topics related to classroom management at university and through independent learning. My first lesson was totally different to how I had envisaged it. Although students were participating in the activities there was a lot of low level disruption throughout the lesson, such as talking amongst friends and tapping the desk continuously. A lot of planning had gone into that lesson, ensuring that the work during the 1 hour period was accessible to all students and low level disruption can be very distracting, especially for a trainee teacher. It can also be very difficult to manage without the right knowledge. It can be frustrating when you have spent 3+ hours to plan a lesson and the students find more amusement in discussing what happened during the lunch break than what you have to teach them. In this instance, reading definitely helped with my classroom management.

One of the first books I read when I entered the profession was ‘Getting the buggers to behave’ by Sue Cowley. This is a simple and easy-to-read book that breaks down some of the most common behavioural issues that a classroom teacher may face. These issues range from students shouting out answers when not being questioned to students getting out of their seats and walking around the classroom. Sue Cowley outlines some effective techniques that can be used to create a positive learning environment within the classroom such as use of body language, tone of voice and language. After reading the book I began putting what I had read into my practice and I saw noticeable differences quite quickly. I started by using assertive body language which involved standing up with my shoulders pulled back and my hands open and visible, as well as utilising the classroom space to exercise my control of the lesson. Simple techniques such as greeting every child at the door upon entering and leaving worked a treat and are now part of my daily routines.

There is a countless amount of literature on behaviour management available to read for new teachers. My advice to new teachers would be to start with simple techniques that you can repeat and embed into a routine. When trying out a new technique it is important that time is allowed for the technique to settle in with the students before trying something else. Adults do not warm to change and students even less so. Be patient with students and get to know your class before trying to fix what may not be broken to begin with.


August 28, 2018

How being research–informed has impacted on my practice – Georgina

The PGCE course involved assignments which required us to gain understanding, appreciation and knowledge of research in teaching. This exposed me to an area that I was not familiar with. Initially we were required to look into the original learning models and theories of Pavlov, Vygotsky, Bruner and various others. These theorists set the baseline for educational research, regardless of this, I found most of it hard to read but the underlying message was common sense. Consequently, I felt I gained very little and these theorists gave me no inspiration into becoming research informed.

However, during my research into my PG1B essay I discovered that there was an extensive amount of academic research on education outside the original theorists. The research I read was extremely interesting, educational and demonstrated that the issues I observe in my current setting are issues nationally. With a foundation of a STEM career before retraining to become a teacher, the topic of girls not following into STEM post GCSE, regardless of high attainment at GCSE level was fascinating. Through the research I discovered that stereotyping, lack of female role models (evidence: Role model form filled in for Southam), lower self-efficacy and girls being more rounded educationally was still an issue. With more and more equality in the UK, why is this still an issue? The research book by Smith (2014) into gender participation in Mathematics covered the main reasons girls do not go further in STEM and therefore laid the foundation for my further research to support this work (Smith, 2014). He identified that girls preferred to understand ‘why’ in mathematics which leads to needing to adapt teaching to respond to the needs of pupils (TS5).

On my research for PG2, the focus was on behaviour management in schools. This was highly relevant to my training today when dealing with certain pupils, especially the low-attaining pupils. Payne found that there was a high level of discrepancy between the perspectives of pupils to teachers within a classroom (Payne, 2015). He concluded that pupils react better to positive encouragement and in particular positive feedback to parents (TS8: communicate effectively with parents). Consequently I have implemented a positive reward process (Evidence: HAPS rewards) in my low attaining group and also called home to positively praise (Evidence: call home) or show concern attaching a positive spin.

Being research-informed has enabled me to get an increased level of understanding of issues in education outside my current setting, it has enabled me to ensure I am a good female role model and practice positive behaviour management. After the initial struggle I had with the early theorists, I have found the more current research more accessible and useful. I will continue to refer to academic literature through my teaching career to find ways and understanding into my practice as a teacher. On the other hand, I did identify that all the research is based on very small subsets and will strive to look for research which is more at a national level.

Evidence:

  • Role model form I filled in for Southam.
  • Haps status demonstrating the positive structure in place.
  • Call home email.


References

Payne, R., 2015. Using rewards and sanctions in the classroom: pipils' perceptions of their own responses to current behaviour management strategies.. Educational Review, 67(4), pp. 483-504.

Smith, c., 2014. Geneder and participation in mathematics and further A-Level: a literature review for the further Mathemeatics Support Proggramme. London: Insitute of Education.


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