‘The process of becoming a reflective practitioner cannot be prescribed. It is a personal awareness discover process.’ Larivee (2010, p.296 ‘Reflective Practice International and Multidisciplinary Perspectives’)
On my journey to becoming a critically reflective practitioner I have had a lot of obstacles to face. Due to personal circumstances I moved into the University halls and struggled financially to pay the rent. As a result I lost my access to pebblepad in December and have had no access to it since, hence blogging through WordPress. I have also had to correspond through e-mail with my peers instead of using the Tutor Group Blog for feedback on critical incidents. I have been updating my progress through this WordPress blog as it is still in a blog format and is available online. Although having to blog this way has had somewhat of a negative impact on my communication with my peers about my placement and I can’t blog about personal issues/sensitive student information as it is a public forum. In short, I have found it very difficult to progress smoothly on my course when this pressure has been coupled with my own issues. It has been a stressful year that would have been more of a pleasure had I had my access to pebblepad back earlier in the year. This issue could have been resolved a lot earlier but due to Student Finance not releasing my grant I have had to find alternative ways of completing the course. I have mostly included my work in my paper portfolio which has been hard to do as sometimes I lose track of what has been printed and what hasn’t. Despite all of this and my medical issues I have managed to collate my work by using checklists and keeping notes.
As I have been through this it has allowed me to become reflective in a sense that I have learned that there is always a different approach you can take in order to get a task done – which is surprisingly helpful when I know I am a logical and ordered thinker. I particularly struggle when having to do a task out of sync. This means that when I work, I have to do it in order and disruptions to this routine force me to stop, a difficult trait that I have had to overcome at times. Knowing this about myself has let me be more open-minded with my students and the circumstances they may be in. ‘Reflective teaching should be open-minded enough to constructively critique their own beliefs, as well as those of others.’ Pollard (2008, p.94). By being able to know what I am good at and what I need to improve on, by looking inwardly at myself, I can move on. I can then transfer this to how I relate to my students. If we set goals together, much like setting goals with my tutor and mentor, the task becomes easier to break down and eventually complete. It becomes a lot less daunting for me. I believe that some of my students feel this way too from looking at the progress of their work. I have been able to become more adaptable. ‘One of the central features of inclusive education is that it is about teaching for diversity. In this process the teacher has to be flexible and adaptive, recognising that different learners have varied ways of interpreting and understanding information.’ Clough and Corbett (2000, p.165)
I have also learned that it is imperative to be organised, which has been hard to do when I have had these issues. To combat this I started making plans. Sounds simple, but it took me a while to work out that this was beneficial for me. ‘Proper preparation prevents poor performance and planning ensures the best kind of preparation. Planning is a better approach for those who strive for success as it makes it possible for them to utilize their time more efficiently and effectively.’ Aysha (2012). By implementing these plans throughout all areas of my life, not just in the sense of teaching, I feel that I am starting to get back on track and succeeding. This has been evidenced by completing all of my observations successfully.
‘Becoming an effective practitioner involves considerably more than accumulating skills and strategies.’ Larivee (2010, p.293). This is something that I wholeheartedly agree with. My subject specialism is Media Production and I have had the pleasure to teach my passion, Photography. Here I have accumulated an array of skills and strategies but I feel that the teacher I am becoming is more than that. I have considerably more knowledge now than when I started the course, both in teaching and subject specialist areas, but I am also a different person. I have learned a lot about myself and I have done this by reflecting. I now know that I am competent enough to teach a class of rowdy teenagers as well as adult learners. I am good at making resources. I create interesting lessons that the students enjoy. My Harvard referencing has improved (See all of this blog post!). I am interested in politics and policy within FE – who knew?! But most of all I am becoming a good teacher and I believe this is because of all of the support I have had along the way from my peers, colleagues, mentor and tutor.