A minimum of 5 pages (no less than 2500 words) of your reflective writing on teaching. Be sure to address and summarize what you have researched and read during the past few weeks. Reference any resources used and include a bibliography, if necessary.
Teaching Experience Reflection
The first thing I realized about myself was my latent ability as a teacher to develop cordial and healthy relationship with the students. When I started I put my genuine and consistent effort to make deep connection with each student as I was highly interested to make student’s lives more productive. The successful developmental process of my relationship with my students was due to the fact that I always approached to it with attention planning. This relationship provided me an invaluable insight in gauging my ability to produce solid lesson plans and incorporating effective and creative assessments which went a long way in helping learn through interactive experiences. This approach also proved to be extremely effective for the students in thinking out of the box. However, initially it was not easy for me to walk on this teaching path because I felt uncomfortable in speaking among groups. Gradually, I started paying attention on the extra-curricular activities such as sports, concerts, drama clubs and track meets. I am, therefore, pretty well comfortable in the dynamic interaction with the students now.
Reflective Practice for Teacher Education
The reflective practice is a perspective that was developed in the area of teaching and the teacher education is being seen as a reaction against the perspectives of teachers as technicians who are needed to be involved as active participants. This movement includes the recognition of the teachers regarding their active roles to lay down purposes and objectives of their work along with taking up leadership roles in school reforms as well. The reflection also highlights the fact that new dimensions of the knowledge regarding teaching is not an exclusive area of expertise of college or faculty (Zeichner & Liu, 2010).
Therefore, the view that teacher being a reflective practitioner provides and acknowledges the expertise of other teachers and bring it forth in his own teaching style. This process is commonly known as Knowledge-in-Action. In other words, it is the process of understanding as well as improving the works of a particular teacher by providing a reflection with one’s own experience. The reflection in terms of educational reforms also gives a recognition despite whatever we do in teacher learning programs. Whenever we utilize the concepts of reflective teaching, there is an inherent commitment on the part of the teacher or educator for helping prospective teachers their initial training.
There have been a number of instances when reflective teacher education has undermined the intentions of teacher educators. Mostly, reflection has helped teachers reflect their teaching with the main aim of better replicating a curriculum or teaching method that was effective on the basis of research. The creative intelligence of teachers is sometimes required to analyze the situation’s dynamics and therefore is needed to employ particular strategies (Hatton & Smith, 1995). As a matter of fact, theories are only produced through practices and in this way teaching becomes a technical activity. Therefore, we can safely state that teachers should not and need not limit their activities to the classrooms alone, but they are always required to take active responsibility to achieve the goals to which they are committed. Therefore, teachers’ involvement beyond the classrooms intensify their work beyond the reasonableness of their curriculum.
My Teaching Strengths
One aspect that I discovered about my abilities is the way with which I process and convey my knowledge to the students and the extent I make them understand the facts. When I was a student myself, I was always attracted and overwhelmed with the in-depth knowledge my teachers used to impart in the class. Even today in my case as well, students find it surprising and impressive with which I address their queries and their difficulties. I was also able to work techniques into the classrooms in order to promote effective learning and retention of the material.
In addition to that, my discipline of cognitive psychology were a lot of helpful in terms of positive implications for effective teaching. This approach really helped me grow both as an educator and an individual as I was able to think outside the box as well. What I found was there was no initiative at all on the part of the students to make optimum absorption of the course materials as well as concepts that they had assigned (Enochs & Riggs, 1990). To address this, I focused on their comprehension regarding the subject matter and then I devised a specific set of questions to answer them at the end of all the sessions. This assessment allowed me to understand which topic are needed to be revisited.
I also introduced an approach of value association with short lessons along with the built-in transitions and activities and it provided me a strong base for capturing students’ interest and attention. I looked beyond the realm of the class in order to deal with the performances of the students. There may be some palliative factors suddenly coming in the lives of students that may cause a lack of focus and interest. In such circumstances, a more individual attention approach might take a significant turnaround in those circumstances (Swatz, 2013). So, such experiences made me more determined to interact more with the students. Now I always try to spend more time and effort in employing as much creative teaching styles as possible. During the ongoing interactive activities, I focus on visual, kinesthetic and auditory teaching styles which enhanced their comprehension of material.
How different is my Approach
If I am given an opportunity to teach the way I have learnt it, there are a lot of things that I would do differently. To begin with, I will give quizzes and wait for the formal assessment at the end of the unit because it will leave students with significant amount of information to acquire. It will give the students a new insight of practicing and studying through quizzes. I also believe in setting up of different set of norms for my class because during my journey as a student teacher, I found myself grappling with the preexisting parameters of teaching. These were, to some extent, helpful for me to set the norms, however, I am looking forward to establish my own classroom management style.
Working in the classroom has provided me the opportunity to understand the value of making systems fully organized. Another thing that I take care is the bringing up of relevance into the lessons and materials that I teach. This skill wasn’t there with me naturally but I developed it gradually by planning and introspecting. It has now greatly improved because of the student teaching so I have put myself on that path to continue doing that.
I have observed that while applying my unique classroom management principles, majority of the problems can be eliminated using two simple methods – short activities and routines. Routines are something that make students understand what anyone expects of them. It allows to put more focus in order to get better productivity and comprehension (Chan Fong Yee, 2014). This structure is also very important to avoid distraction. The philosophy with which I developed my teaching style is completely based on the inquiry model and it has proven to be extremely efficient because it has allowed students to take lead and channeled their interests along with an activity. It allows them to explain themselves why something happens.
Apart from that, I discovered that prolonged questioning and critical thinking are exceptionally profound skills that we can provide the students. I consider myself fortunate to have achieved a personal insight regarding the importance of the extra-curricular activities because it is very crucial to find a perfect balance between what we should learn in personal level and what we get to know after teaching. I tend to incorporate creativity whenever designing alternative assignments is concerned.
Positives I Took From the Experiences
When I completed my student teaching exercise, it was no less a challenge for me, but surely my horizons were expanded considerably. This passion of student teaching ignited a spark of passion in me to go ahead and teach even more and it became my priority to become as much better as I could. I started to reflect on each experience whether successful or unsuccessful and it encouraged me even more to more efforts and perseverance and transcend myself from these challenges. In this process, this experience not just taught me to become a better teacher but made me a more indulgent learner myself.
Today I am really glad that I was to reach to the next stage regarding the achievement of my student teaching goals. It obviously took me long to gain confidence in my own skills, abilities and capabilities because I found that I possessed a unique attribute of providing an atmosphere of comfort, confidence and safety to the students so that they could explore and exploit their intuitive ideas as well as share insights without any fear or deterrence (Xiang, 2008). I learnt to make sure that gets an opportunity to take part in activities as per their choice and become engaged. I came to understand that students grow in confidence and character whenever their innate thoughts are encouraged, no matter whether they are right or wrong.
So, how did I achieve my goals of increased student engagement as well as robust learning styles? I made sure that students should always come to me with an open mind let me know where are they and what they understood. I, on the other hand, make sure that I am available for them to provide them the instructions involving innovative strategies and strongly encourage their positive, creative and critical thinking. My working strategy has been that I never hesitate to explain why I am going to use a particular strategy as well as that information could be used in their lives. This information proves very positive for them, especially in terms of the grades they get in their middle school (YILMAZ, 2013).
The next thing that I learnt was how to assess pacing and ensuring time management. Being teachers, we are not just responsible for providing students with content, but more importantly I understood that we teach them skills and which requires a perfect balance of time and attention. As an anecdotal experience, while reading a book, I came across an insightful expression that we need to allow an extra time to explore what context clues are in order to understand the vocabulary ourselves. So, what I feel is given the constraints of the curriculum and other classroom obligations, I have to constantly develop this important balance in my classroom to set new goals with optimum flexibility (Halpern, 1999).
During this whole time of getting experience in the field of teaching, I realized that there are a lot more things that I need to know if I want to honestly impart them to the students. It has taught me graciousness and a sense of acceptance about myself and my caliber and a belief that I could bring about positive changes and profound impacts in the lives of students. By having gone through all these challenging times and the efforts that I had put, made me a lot more supportive towards accepting the struggle and understanding of the students as well. In addition, it has boosted my confidence in terms of my recurrent longing towards learning and growing as an educator. It gives me an immense pleasure to have understood the value of setting goals as well as objectives that would be very important to push me ahead constantly in raising bar of my potential of teaching and thereby setting example for my students as well.
Research Evidence that Enhanced My Teaching
One of the leading educational researchers John Hattie, through his deep insightful research in the field of education has proposed some valuable goals that can go a long way in helping teachers to see better understanding through the perspectives of their students. I for one was immensely benefitted from these findings. The following are the highlights of those effective practices:
Clarity of Teachers: Whenever a teacher comes up a new study material or a project to teach students, it is crucial that he/she makes a compelling clarification regarding its purpose and learning goals. An explicit criteria should be presented so that they become successful by providing ideal examples to them.
Extensive Discussion in Classrooms: It is really helpful when teacher brings a routine to step aside or make way for facilitating a healthy discussion for the entire class. It helps students to learn a lot from each other and it provides teacher with a bandwidth for formatively assessing as to how well the students are getting new concepts.
Feedback: Feedback provides a fair idea as to how do the learners make sure that they are making a positive progress. Apart from giving individual feedback, teachers are required to provide an overall group feedback so that it will be known that which are the areas of requirements. The feedback also allows in adjusting learning processes, materials as well as instructions.
Formative Assessments: Whenever a teacher requires to provide an effective and accurate feedback, he also requires to assess frequently as to where students are with regards to their learning objectives as well as end products. So, teachers need to spend more time on formative evaluation as well (Hattie, 2003).
Metacognition: It is imperative that students are given equal number of opportunities to plan and organize as well as monitor their own work, channelize their learning and self-reflect whatever they had learnt. Whenever the students are provided with time and space so that they could become aware about their own knowledge and thinking, their sense of ownership increases. Researches have shown that metacognition can be taught.
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The overall learning curve has allowed me not to lose sight of my ingrained motivation for getting transformed into an ideal teacher so that I would be able to make a difference in the lives of students. I have no doubt as to how valuable and important are the qualities that are possessed by the students but more than that how do they prepare themselves to acquire extra skills. It will always be important for me that every student of my class gets all the opportunity to speak and be heard. The challenge that I present to them will encourage them in finding evidence and reasoning for every perspective they often encounter. I also feel that they should take a firm stand for what they believe is right.
Finally, the way I see myself as an educator is someone who always has effective management tools at his disposal. I think that I have grown and matured in my teaching and managing skills while undergoing this amazing experience and in the process I also learned the art of gaining more and more confidence and ability to improve further with every classroom session. I am also looking forward to hone my skills further so that I could create more interesting and interactive assignment and assessments. I have seen students become more excited whenever they are provided with more interactive and challenging assignments.
Chan Fong Yee, F. (2014). Reflections on teaching and research: two inseparable components in higher education. Teachers And Teaching, 20(6), 755-763. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13540602.2014.885700
Enochs, L. & Riggs, I. (1990). Further Development of an Elementary Science Teaching Efficacy Belief Instrument: A Preservice Elementary Scale. School Science And Mathematics, 90(8), 694-706. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1949-8594.1990.tb12048.x
Halpern, D. (1999). Teaching for Critical Thinking: Helping College Students Develop the Skills and Dispositions of a Critical Thinker. New Directions For Teaching And Learning, 1999(80), 69-74. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/tl.8005
Hatton, N. & Smith, D. (1995). Reflection in teacher education: Towards definition and implementation. Teaching And Teacher Education, 11(1), 33-49. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0742-051x(94)00012-u
Swatz, J. (2013). Thinking skills and communicative language teaching: a curriculum perspective. Per Ling., 7(1). http://dx.doi.org/10.5785/7-1-344
Xiang, Z. H. A. N. G. (2008). On the Structure and Cultivation of Higher Vocational College Teachers' Teaching Abilities [J]. Journal of Liuzhou Vocational & Technical College, 2, 007.
YILMAZ, S. (2013). Teaching for Critical Thinking: Helping College Students Develop the Skills and Dispositions of a Critical Thinker / Ele?tirel Dü?üncenin Ö?retilmesi. Journal Of History Culture And Art Research, 2(1). http://dx.doi.org/10.7596/taksad.v2i1.191
Zeichner, K., & Liu, K. Y. (2010). A Critical Analysis of Re?ection as a Goal for Teacher Education.