Teaching and Reflecting on Own Practice Essay
Teaching and Reflecting on Own Practice
Describe a significant past learning experience that has or is influencing your approach to teaching and learning. You must say how the experience has or is affecting you and be specific about the affects. Every day of my teaching life is a learning experience and many things have influenced my approach to teaching and learning. Some experiences are more painful than others, some are almost enjoyable, but never does a day of teaching in Carlisle College fail to be a challenging and rewarding experience. Not all learning takes place in the classroom though. My most recent significant learning experience took place in the National Science Museum. Ironically it started out as quite a negative experience – I hadnt realised how many children there would be in the place. When I was at school museums were dusty old places with creaky floorboards and draws full of dead things. Not the science museum. I knew it was modern and contained inspirational exhibitions, I had a leaflet, but what I hadnt realised was how interactive it was. There were the usual videos and simulators, but in addition there were experiments, games, puzzles – a whole range of learning resources and activities. And most inspiring of all was that it was mostly the children who were using these resources to teach the adults.
Of course, they were also learning, but more importantly they were enjoying it. I was inspired. Is this student centred learning Wouldnt it be great if I could get my students to teach me, and each other Maybe I can make my lessons more interactive, better designed activities would be a good starting point. Maybe the college should be designed to be more like a museum than an institution of reform. To be an effective teacher, which is my ultimate goal, you need to know how to designlessons and manage your classroom. Since my museum visit I have made a conscious effort to transform my classroom into an environment of learning for both me and the students. I am trying not to teach but to question, not to reprimand but to positively reinforce. I am trying to make my activities more interactive and use them as my main resource. I want to try and recreate the positive affect that the museum had on its learners. I appreciate they were mainly children but I did notice several posters advertising adult only evenings.
Reflect on your current learning and describe the elements that are having the most significant impact on your approach to teaching. Explain the nature of this impact and give specific examples of decisions youve taken in your approach to teaching and learning as a result of recent learning experiences. Planning for different levels of differentiation. The varying ability of learners in my classroom means that in order for them all to be educationally challenged, I have to arrange activities and set learning outcomes that ensure equal opportunities of learning for them all. The element of differentiation is proving hard to implement successfully and is having the most significant impact on my teaching. I have successfully used brainteasers (starter questions/worksheets) in most of my classes, the topics of which are based on identified group needs. Although these are differentiated with respect to level of study they could be enhanced further by including individual specific short tasks aimed at the learners own specific needs – maybe based on their results from last week.
This could also be applied to portfolio work. At the moment I feel that my planned group outcomes are fine and clearly reflect the level of tasks on the worksheet. However the portfolio progress outcomes could be sharpened by being made more individual. I currently use post-it notes to set targets on learners marked portfolio work but perhaps this too could be enhanced by a record of individual specific tasks – perhaps a portfolio ILP Something I would like to introduce and to develop is a method for learners to evaluate their own progress. I could set the first set of targets then learners could evaluate their progress against them at the end of the lesson and set their own for the following week. This system of assessment may prove difficult to introduce to learners in established classes but at the start of a course there should be few problems. In future key/functional skills lessons I will be encouraging learners to take responsibility for setting and reviewing their own targets. After a brief discussion with someone in your class, define what organisational culture means to you.
When OFSTED inspectors walk into an organisation, Carlisle College for example, they will get a certain feel for it. Is it a fast moving, modern and responsive college or does it feel old, tired, and backward looking. This perception or feeling is referred to as organisational culture – a system if you like, that people, such as OFSTED inspectors, can use to classify what a college or businesss personality and ethos is like. Things such as, dress codes, physical symbols and ceremonies not only define an organisations character, but make it unique. These, together with a shared set of values and beliefs about what is important and that guide the behaviour of its members, its purpose and strategies, is what make up the culture of an organisation. What employees and inspectors see and hear is the observable culture, the core culture however, can only be found in an organisations underlying values. Using a relevant book from the College LRC or use the internet, find at least 2 quotes that seem to sum up what organisational culture is. Note dont forget to use Harvard referencing Edgar Schein (2004, p.17) defines organizational culture as A pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way you perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems.
According to him culture is the most difficult organizational attribute to change. It outlasts organizational products, services, founders and leaders and all other physical attributes of an organization. Deal and Kennedy (1983, p.501) developed a much simplified definition of organisational culture as The way we do things around here.5)In your own words, describe the culture of the organisation where you teach. Give examples of why you think the culture is as it is. Finally evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the culture, as you see it, and how it affects you as a teacher. Refer to relevant models and theories or organisational culture to do this e.g. Handy One of the most widely known methods for classifying different types of organisational culture was developed by Charles Handy (1985). He suggests that there are four types Power, Role, Task and Person. In my opinion Carlisle College where I teach is best described, using Handys model, as a Role Culture. In this culture, people have clearly delegated authorities within a highly defined structure.
Typically, these organizations form hierarchical bureaucracies (Handy, 1985). Similarly Carlisle College has well defined levels of management and departmental structure. Although I teach key skills across departments, for example to engineering and health care students, I am based in a department and I have a line manager to whom I report. Schein suggests that organisational cultures can be difficult to assess because their shared beliefs, values and assumptions are not always explicit (Schein, 2004). However, this is not the case in the organisation where I teach. On the Carlisle College website you will find information outlining company values, mission statements and visions of the future. In the about us section you will find what lies at the heart of its corporate culture – or rather, how the college defines itself To achieve excellence by working in partnership to grow and meet the lifelong learning needs and aspirations of individuals, businesses and communities in Carlisle and its surrounding areas. Above is the mission statement of the college, a declaration of its general objectives and purpose, and its commitment to the local population.
The college values and charter are more extensive and use diagrams, audio and a downloadable leaflet to advertise their common core value – students are at the heart of everything we do. Supporting these statements are the colleges vision, strategic aims and equality and diversity policy. Its no wonder the college has gone to such lengths to define itself, as Deal and Kennedy (1982) argue that culture is the single most important factor accounting for success or failure in organizations. Although you wont find it mentioned on the website, success is very important at Carlisle College. Targets, both external and internal, have to be met and a lot of funding depends on the number of students who successfully complete a course. Bums on seats is a term often used by employees to describe the college ethos regarding funding, and the mention of some associated issues has become almost taboo in conversation. I know there are some learners in my classes who do not meet the minimum level of entry regarding qualifications. Why they were accepted on to the course is a mystery.
The line managers blame the vice-principal, who blames the principal, who blames the council, who blames the government – I blame hierarchical bureaucracy. Such taboos or tacit assumptions form the third and deepest level of Scheins model of defining organizational culture. He perceived it as operating on three levels (Schein, 2004). At the first level is organizational attributes that can be seen, felt and heard by the uninitiated observer. Here Carlisle Colleges strength lies in its website and its supportive, friendly staff. Its main weakness is more functional. The college is undergoing redevelopment and is only partially complete due to funding problems. As a result some teaching rooms and resources are inadequate. My teaching has been made more challenging because of poor room layouts and overcrowded lessons. I do have a desk now which is a luxury compared to other part-time colleagues who share one in a portakabin. The second level that Schein describes is the espoused values. These are the things the organization says it believes, such as mission statements mentioned earlier. Again this is one of the colleges strengths. My role as a teacher is clearly defined and I know what is expected of me.
Policy and procedure are made explicit and are available to all employees and students where appropriate. Using Scheins model there is, however, some evidence of a paradox in some organizational behaviour at Carlisle College. For instance, professing standards of excellence at the second level of Scheins model while simultaneously displaying curiously opposing behaviour at the third. 6)Describe the formal and informal support services and processes that offer advice and guidance to learners in your organisation Introduction It is difficult to give a definition of the difference between formal and informal support. You will notice that some support services appear in both columns. This is because in my opinion they give both types of support. For instance, a course tutor will give formal support such as the location of college facilities to students when he/she first meets then but might also operate an open-door policy for informal one to one meetings. Formal Support Services Course/subject tutor Student support services Counsellors Careers advisors Learning support fund/EMA/ALG Qualified staff to teach in specialised support areas Severe to mild learning difficulties, Deaf and hearing impaired, Specific learning difficulties, Basic Skills needs, Blind or visually impaired Learning support Interpreters (Communication support worker) Note takers, Readers, Enlarged or Braille material, Trained First Aiders Special exam arrangements Learning resources Moodle, LRC Student council Chatterbox nursery Management Unions Informal Support Services Course/subject tutor Mentor Student council Peers Family 7)Select at least one of the formal and one of the informal support service described above and analyse their effectiveness.
Draw on your own experiences of these services to help you illustrate your points and suggest areas for improvement. The new college LRC is bright, airy and modern and is designed to meet the needs of all its learners. It has over 700 square metres of learning space which houses books, computers, mini-laptops, magazines, periodicals, videos, DVDs and more. In this interactive learning environment there is a mixture of open plan, group and individual study areas. Also, relaxed seating and quiet, individual or small group study rooms are available. Sounds impressive but is it effective I can think of two immediate improvements Firstly the zero tolerance policy of no mobile phones and noise in the LRC needs to be enforced. I have yet to spend any time in the LRC without being constantly interrupted by noise from students, even in the quiet zone. Secondly it needs to open on weekends. Surely there are some learners who would like to study on a weekend, or loan a book. Not to mention staff members who might like to access their offices in the building, not just the LRC. There are deadlines for essays, and lessons that need planned for 900am on Monday mornings – presumably the college expects this all to be done by 500pm the previous Friday Sadly, in my opinion, it reflects one of the biggest problems in the college – inappropriate use of PCs.
The majority of students I witness in the LRC are playing games and listening to music. I would like to see the volume disabled on all machines in the college as an initial step in tackling this problem. It would also help in classrooms where there are always a few students who dont have headphones but still want to listen to music, especially in key skills. Having studied at Newcastle University, which has a much larger and diverse campus, and where no PCs have volume, except tutor machines, I see no reason why this shouldnt be the case at Carlisle. A lot of my colleagues feel the same regarding PC usage and this is one of many topics that can be discussed informally with ones peers. Making good use of available resources, such as other staff members, can be a big help in a large organisation. When I first started at Carlisle College I was assigned a mentor who provided me with invaluable informal support that helped me cope with the stress attached to starting any new job. Things that might be overlooked in interviews and formal inductions, such as where can you park your car, how do you get a photocopying account or where exactly room 52 is, can all be sorted out over a cup of coffee, providing you can find the canteen.
I know I sound a little melodramatic but I was literally dropped in at the deep end, as are all key skills part-time lecturers, when I started at the college and I would not have survived if it were not for the informal support of some of my peers.8)Reflect on your performance as a teacher so far. List your strengths and weakness and propose ideas for your professional development. Try to be as specific as you can e.g. just saying youre a good communicator isnt enough. In what way, too whom, verbally or written General introductory statement introducing yourself as a teacher Looking to the future I foresee that in order to carry out my duties as a teacher I will have to assume many different roles and that each of these will require practice and skills that may not be taught on this course. In my teaching career thus far I have taken on the role of classroom manager, disciplinarian, evaluator, counsellor, decision-maker, role-model and even surrogate parent. My effectiveness as a teacher is greatly improved through consistency, efficient time management and reflection. Key strengthsKey weaknesses I am creative – development of activities, use of resources My time management is efficient – lesson planning and delivery, workload, prioritising tasks I have a clear command of my subject knowledge – my confidence with maths techniques gives the learners confidence
Clear and concise delivery I command my classes well – good rapport with students, challenge inappropriate behaviour, consistency Assessment and tracking of students – formative and summative assessment is checked, good use of ILPs and tracking software Enthusiasm for subject – apparent in teaching Hard working Supportive – open-door policy for learners, will help/share ideas with colleagues Management of resources – mainly regarding support worker/teacher. There have been instances of prolonged individual support and of support worker teaching Lesson evaluation Keeping reflective journal up to date Do not like criticism 9) Proposed ideas for developmentDetail, how you intend to achieve your proposals More efficient and effective management of support worker/teachers Better lesson evaluation A separate plan for support staff could be introduced detailing responsibilities for each lesson. This can work alongside group profile which will highlight more general areas of concern. Continue to design and develop different forms of lesson evaluation until relevant and insightful comments can be elicited from learners.