As a fully registered teacher in five years time, I would like to be a teacher who is able to help in the development of each individual child so they may become a successful learner, a confident individual, an effective contributor and a responsible citizen.
During my career to improve my practise I must partake in continual professional learning and ensure I become an inclusive and reflective practitioner. Graham Donaldson illustrated this point well when he said ‘A professional teacher will work from a strong knowledge base informed by an understanding of current pedagogical research. They will become committed to a learner-centred approach and to enabling all learners to achieve their full potential. They will work within an ethical framework. They will receive good support and supervision. They will be encouraged to review and reflect on their practice and engage in CPD. They will be committed to learning as a lifelong process.” (Donaldson, 2010, p.
14). Last linking sentenceThere is no single definition of professionalism as the concept is influenced by many sources, such as your own experiences, the government, academics, the General Teaching Council Scotland (GTCS), parental expectations and many more. In Sachs’ journal ‘The activist teaching profession’ the concept of a constantly changing definition of ‘Teacher Professionalism’ is highlighted: That the definition of teacher professionalism is not simple, there is no one definition, but rather that the definition is dynamic, always changing in order to fit with current social, economic and political factors that affect teaching and learning.
(Sachs, 2003). The profession of being a teacher is not fixed so having one definition for all teachers to encompass is not realistic. Becoming the professional I strive to be means continuing my learning past the university doors. This professional learning can occur within myself, from my personal experiences, using Teacher Learning Communities or Professional Learning Communities online to share resources or through research. It is important that as I learn my professional practice continues to adapt and change as the world around me does and I must constantly adapt while on the job. “Fullan (2007) suggests that every teacher has to learn, virtually every day.” (Tarrent, P, 2013, p5). This became clear to me from my experiences on placement where each day brought a new experience with different challenges and successes, which I had to adapt my teaching around, during the lessons and for future lessons.
Name an experience from placement!To become an effective teacher I must make my lessons inclusive for all pupils. There should be a focus in schools on working to ensure each child has the opportunity to participate in every lesson and subsequently learn without barriers. To create this inclusive classroom environment there must be a shift from a deficit model to a social model approach.
This new social model takes away the mentality of seeing a person’s differences as a negative or a hindrance to their learning but moves to seeing these differences as a positive that can be accepted and worked with. (Arshad, 2012). This is especially important as school are beginning to see more children with learning difficulties integrated in their population, this is due to specialist schools being shut down and these children therefore being moved into regular schools. These children are integrated into regular schools as it can improve not only learning but social skills in these children which is vital for their future. From my experience in schools i have seen larger number of children in classes that expected that have learning difficulties or need specialist help. One of my classes had three little boys with learning difficulties and to get them involved in the lesson the pe specialist had worked out a technique that worked with the boys to ensure they were included in the lessons. The boys wore bibs as it make them think they were invisible to the rest of the class, this gave them confidence to participate in the lesson without feeling watched or judged. Overtime they would stop wearing the bibs when they felt they had the confidence to participate without the need to feel invisible.
This was the case with one of the boys who no longer wore the bib and from discussions with the PE specialist the technique not only improved confidence for the boy but also improved his behaviour within the class. For these children just the simple use of these bibs gives them to opportunity to be included into the lesson and overcomes some of the barriers they face. This showed first hand the importance of a teacher’s role in making learning inclusive to each individual child. Moore (2004) developed a theory to better understand what makes a good teacher; these were known as the three dominant discourses; the charismatic subject, the competent craftsperson and the reflective practitioner. (Pinto et al, 2012). The last discourse a ‘reflective practitioner’ highlights the importance of reflecting on your teaching in order to better improve it.
A good teacher is therefore someone who has developed this important skill to reflect. Reflection allows you to identify positives in a lessons they have taught but also what future developments are needed further improve their practice. (Pinto et al, 2012, p75). This ability to reflect come with time and practise in the classroom. “Berliner (2001 p5-13) states: ‘To the novice the expert appears to have uncanny abilities to notice things, an ‘instinct’ to make the right moves, an ineffable ability to get things done and to perform in an almost effortless manner.
‘ ” (Banks and Mayera, 2001, p20 as cited by Tarrent P, 2013, p2). This can be seen with the ability to reflect. The move from novice to expert comes from using your ability to question, review situations and scrutinise your own teaching. You as the teacher are able to subconsciously identify these strengths and development needs from lessons and adapt to them. From my experience on placement, when watching our PE specialist in action we saw how effortless reflection could become. He was able to for instance spot a child struggling and know exactly what help to give them whether it is re-explaining the task in different words or simplifying the task for the individual’s ability.
This ability to reflect and adapt comes from experience over time “Reflection is skilled practise that uses experience, knowledge and enquiry processes to increase our capability to intervene, interpret, and act positively on successes, problems, issues and significant questions” (Ghaye, 2011, p20). Bolton (2010) similarly spoke about Reflection being the process of reviewing your practice and your performance during it, in order to learn. It also gives the opportunity for others to assess your teaching which gives another perspective for you to learn and adapt from. (Bolton, 2010, p13 as cited in Tarrent P, 2013, p9). However reflecting on practise can be challenging after each lesson, as there is often not time during the school day let alone after each class. This was very ture on my PEP days where the strict time constraint became apparent in the PE setting. As one class was dismissed the next class would already be waiting to enter the gym hall, there was no break between each class. This did not allow for formal reflection until the end of the day, which often meant us forgetting certain events in the lesson, making for a weaker and less accurate reflection.
The process though is partly unconscious so despite not being able to sit down and fully breakdown the successes and the improvement that could be made, I was naturally thinking about these points during the lesson and could make adaption to the next classes lesson in order to improve it without the need to sit down between each. An example of this was during a P5 PE lesson when we played a warm up game called clear the garden, the game involved two teams throwing shuttlecocks over the benches to the opponent’s court in order to ‘clear their garden’ with the winning team having the least amount of shuttles on their court. The game however did not play out the same as in other classes, it quickly became out of hand with several of the boys being violent throwing the shuttles at opponents faces. The game had to be stopped early. After this experience we quickly realised the game had to be changed in order for this not to happen again, so with the following class, another P5 class we adapted the game. We set up smaller games with individual courts for each game and after two minutes we moved the teams so they could play a different team.
This gave us more control over the games and also improved behaviour from individuals. This showed my profession as a teacher having the ability to identify the problem through reflection and being able to use the knowledge I have learnt to adapt my lesson. I have also started the development of my formal reflecting skills through my reflective journals. From experiences in school I have also acknowledged that not all children in a class will be at the same level of ability and as a teacher it is my job to make PE accessible to every child, catering to their abilities not just to the abilities of the many. (Donaldson, 2010). Reflection is a key skill to develop in order to become an active teacher, whether this reflection is through formal university essays or informal reflections in the classroom, both are key in becoming the reflective teacher I want to be.The type of teacher I become will be different to the next person and they will be to the next, the idea that we all learn in order to become the same professional with the same values is not realistic. It is important that each teacher has these different ideals to improve the experience of the students that we teach.
There should be no singular definition of a good teacher rather multiple ideas of makes good teaching practice. Teachers should be unique, innovative and bring different teaching practises to the profession in order for it to improve and grow. (Connell, 2011) In five years time I will be a teacher who uses my strong knowledge base to become reflective, adaptive, inclusive and continually learning as a teacher.