Posts Tagged ‘pedagogy’
12 October 2013 by shartley
1 September 2013 by shartley
My number one goal of today was to begin a critical analysis of a journal article for my Advanced Pedagogy course which is part of my Masters of Education at Macquarie University. I have been enjoying this subject very much because it is closely related to my role on the Innovative Learning Team at Oakhill College. In fact, in my professional life these are the two aspects that have me fired up, excited about what I do as a teacher. The university readings have helped give academic evidence to what the ILT is suggesting and preparing for the future direction of the school in terms of technology and teaching practices. My real life experiences as a classroom practitioner and the discussions and research in which I’ve been participating with the ILT have been feeding the online exchanges I have with fellow students and the course convenor. Further to this, the ILT has been accepted to present a paper at the Twenty-First International Conference of Learning in New York, July 2014, so I’m looking to use research I do as part of the Advanced Pedagogy course to contribute to the preparation for the New York Conference.
But now, let’s look at the article I chose for the critical review and the impact it had on me. One of the many recommendations the ILT is making for the school is that all teachers create and regularly contribute to online reflective journals about their teaching and learning experiences to develop their meta-cognitive processes and therefore improve their teaching. The paper we’re presenting in New York is called Pulling No Punches: The Metamorphic Process of Turning Teachers into Professionals with Pedagogical Practices of the Modern Era so obviously we envisage reflective journals to be part of this process. The article I found, on a list supplied by the Advanced Pedagogy convenor, is called Promoting teacher reflection: what is said to be done (Marcos, Sanchez, Tillema 2011). The article scares me. To explain, I’ll start with an anecdote.
A science teacher friend and I were chatting about our approaches to studying our different Masters of Education and found we had almost opposing attitudes to reading journal articles. I generally skip over the scientific research components where the method and statistical analysis were conducted and go straight to the findings and conclusion. I like to know what the research found but am rarely interested in how it is found out. My friend says that’s the part he likes, checking the research for scientific and statistical authenticity. We both agreed though that case studies of just a few teachers, often in the same school, were just hopeless as proper research. However, since I had to conduct a critical analysis on this article about teacher reflection, in this case I did read the bits I would normally skip.
The abstract of the article intrigued me when it mentioned investigating “possible differences between what is evidenced in research and what is promoted in practice” (Marcos, Sanchez, Tillema 2011, p.21). When I promote a course of action in my school I want to have it right and implement it effectively. This was the article for me.
The introduction listed the ways teacher reflection had been promoted, including (p.21):
- “to scaffold critical thinking”
- for “knowledge construction”
- to “promote self-regulation”
- because teaching is “a process that lies open to scrutiny and deliberation”
- as part of “professional development”
- to improve “metacognitive ability” of teachers
I thought this was good list and a reasonable explanation of why teachers should maintain a reflective journal. However, the introduction then went on to outline critiques of reflective journals, such as trying to meet too many aims and neglecting to acknowledge underlying assumptions about why teachers should use them (p.22). My summary of this paragraph was that reflective journals had lost their way.
The authors then summarised quite nicely what has been said about reflection (pp.22-23):
- it’s a cyclical and recursive process
- includes “problem solving”, “awareness-raising” and “professional knowledge”
- teachers need to “build on experiential knowledge” (preferably using “action research” eg “observe and analyse classrooms”), “be critical” and “work collaboratively”
- “requires personal involvement”
The authors appear concerned that awareness-raising is promoted more than problem solving as the primary reason for conducting a reflection process and that few “studies provide information on its applicability and implementation in the classroom” (p.23).
Now to my favourite part (not), the method. A total of 122 articles were examined from two Spanish journals, involving 168 authors (p.24). Each article was broken into paragraphs (units) and then all units were divided into 1509 “propositions” which were grouped into 117 “themes” (p.24). These themes were then further split into nine “content-specific categories” (p.25). Is it any wonder I don’t like reading this section? From all this the findings were boiled down to (p.25):
- What was said about reflection: What was said was what had already been said in the article too and the concern about the lack of problem solving as an aim was made more clear at this point. The authors were quite repetitive at this point.
- The reasons for reflection and the evidence behind these reasons for reflection: This was the scary part. The authors found that there was little real evidence backing statements made about the reasons for teachers undertaking reflection. What empirical evidence they found was based on “specific and iconic research projects…rather than specific data” (p.26). I find this scary because much of the reading I do is based on anecdotes from my Professional Learning Network (PLN) on Twitter and various teacher blogs. My convictions about pedagogy and teacher professionalism are based on these readings and personal experience, not academic or scientific research of my own, until now. A table summarising statements made and the evidence provided (or not) ran for five pages and it wasn’t pretty with numerous crosses in the evidence column.
- The persuasive techniques used: The authors actually worded this section as “mode of convincing” (p.32). This was another section where I felt damned. The language used was broken into three methods:
- Implicative – involving an expression of “interesting thoughts and new ways of thinking (i.e.[sic], ‘we believe’)”
- Descriptive – statements as facts “(e.g., ‘reflection has’)”
- Prescriptive – “the article directs or hints at a preferable action (e.g., ‘we must’)”
This is how I write. When I write blog posts, or even for the ILT report into the implications of ICT for the future of the school, I do so based on my convictions from experience, observations, discussion with colleagues and what I read haphazardly online. Although some of this was intentional primary research it isn’t enough.
A few weeks ago all the contributors to the report met and went through the recommendations thoroughly. It was at this point I realised that everything we wrote in that report had to be supported by evidence or it would have no weight. Yet, reading this article today still came as a shock. I think the message is finally hitting home.
The article concluded with a discussion about the biases they had discovered. The two most important were (1) how the literature stressed what reflective journals were about without enough attention to how to go about it and (2) how convictions rather than real research were behind promotions for reflective practice (pp.32-33). I liked how the authors said their intent wasn’t to be overly critical but to reveal “certain blind spots” (p.33) and they suggested teachers should be provided with “more evidence-based or research validated information on what works in reflective practice” and that reflections should be scaffolded for them (p.34).
I definitely intend to provide a scaffold for the teachers at my school when we begin implementing reflections as part of our PD process next year. I’ll leave it to my colleague to back up what we do with the research since he prides himself as being the academic one on the ILT. He’s also taken on the writing of the paper we’re going to present in New York, dissing my proposal because I’d written ‘the metamorphosis process’ instead of ‘the metamorphic process’ (note that the proposal was accepted anyway).
This whole investigation into pedagogy at uni and school is a load of fun and I’m learning heaps about the way I act, learn and think, perhaps even more than I am learning about the way I teach.
Marcos, Juanjo Mena; Sanchez, Emilio; Tillema, Harm H. “Promoting teacher reflection: What is said to be done” Journal of Education for Teaching: International Research and Pedagogy, 37:1 , 2011 , 21-36
7 March 2010 by shartley
Personal Philosophy of Education
Education is vital for a society to progress socially and economically. It is not merely about the accumulation of knowledge but the ability to communicate, negotiate and problem solve in a rapidly changing world. Every student is a member of society and has something to contribute. It is the teacher’s role to enable every student to find their part in the world.
The classroom is a community within the school community and prepares students for a role in the broader community. Therefore, the classroom is a place for learning values and social behaviour in order for the students to be able to not only participate but contribute to that broader community. The teacher needs to model appropriate values and expect the same from the students.
I believe students learn best when they have a sense of ownership over their progress. Teachers should facilitate the learning process so that students are self-directed as much as possible. To maintain students’ interest, content needs to be made real and relevant through integrating technology with a variety of pedagogical approaches, since technology is part of every day existence in Australia. Careers and workplaces are no longer static and hence our students need to be flexible and be able to quickly adapt to changing circumstances.
In the senior years, when education is more heavily driven by final exams, there needs to be a balanced approach. A student’s final school mark is a gateway to opportunities in the future and is hence a critical aspect of their learning. It is also important to focus on learning for life. However, the two are not mutually exclusive. Through a passion for learning students are more likely to achieve at a higher level in exams too.
A firm, fair and friendly approach aids discipline in the classroom. The learning environment needs to be respected and valued by all who participate within it. Preparation and communication are key to making this a reality and boundaries must be clear and maintained. Yet, compassion will also have a role to play at times, according to individual circumstances. In a secondary school students are coping with many physical, social and cognitive changes. There are also a wide range of family situations and difficulties students are experiencing at home and carrying with them emotionally. It is important to be aware of these factors when teaching.
As a Christian, I believe I have been called to the teaching profession. I try to let my faith and principles guide my teaching, my whole life, as I strive to be the best I can be.
Category Education | Tags: Christian,classroom management,community,content,discipline,flexible,learning,passion,pedagogy,personal philosophy,philosophy of education,relevance,self-directed learning,teaching,values | No Comments
10 January 2010 by shartley
Someone else’s blog posting has taken me to a bit of a rant:
…the key to effective teaching is not the content information I have in my head, but the ability and skills to help students find the motivation within themselves to want learn about the subject matter. I don’t have to be an expert in that content subject in order to make that happen.
Thankfully the blogger went on to add There needs to be a balance.
I think sometimes we forget that we do not have the time in our clichéd ‘crowded curriculum’ for students to discover every iota of information for themselves. It helps that the core information is available on tap from the teacher and, heaven forbid, textbooks. As much as we like to be teaching our students how to research, have inquiring minds, problem solve and to learn for life rather than exams, too much of our school system is geared towards passing tests and writing content heavy essays to prove how much has been learnt rather than how the mind works.
In the subjects I teach it is very important for me to stay abreast of current events, particularly economics and social issues. To do this I read a lot and attend conferences. Attending economics lectures (with accompanying notes) provide me with a wealth of information that would take a multitude of hours for me to research. The same is true of the classroom. Sometimes teacher exposition is the easiest way to move through content quickly. Sometimes the easiest way to learn for exams is to memorise content. In an exam based system it can’t always be about enthusiasm, engagement and enjoyment. Besides, we should also be teaching our students resilience and that life isn’t always about being happy about what we are doing. In other words, to occasionally just ‘suck it up’.
As I enter my seventh year of teaching I can look back and reflect how much my teaching methods have expanded, much helped by the IT resources provided by my school. I can see how students are more engaged, self-directed and enjoying my subjects. However, it has occurred as I have become more confident with the content. I am more willing to experiment with methods when I have my feet planted in knowledge. Also, with the time saved by already having gained the knowledge I can spend time on developing new ways of teaching it. Too often we forget, particularly with new teachers, how long it can take to learn content. We need to reduce teacher stress, particularly in the early years.
I am a passionate teacher and this works well whether I feel strong in a topic’s knowledge or not. The first time I taught Society and Culture I was thrown into it mid-semester during my second year of teaching and had to scramble to stay ahead of the students but the students and I still enjoyed it. The best lessons were when we were entirely off topic, but that will have to be the subject of a different post. The second time I taught Society and Culture I changed one of the optional topics and said to the students that we’d be learning it together. I was only able to do this because I had proven I had enough core knowledge in the subject to give the students confidence that it was going to be a positive learning experience.
Balance is a word I use frequently. Teachers need to have a balance of content and pedagogy training. I just think we need to be more aware of how they go hand-in-hand. One is useless without the other.