6 Months on...
I worked within one school for an extended period of time. Despite undertaking further study and completing Master of Education and performing exceptionally well in various roles, my career and professional growth was stifled. During all my years working within one school my teaching performance was never reviewed and classroom observations of my teaching practice were never conducted. In result and to my detriment my understanding of teaching and learning were limited.
At the start of the year I commenced work with a new organisation. The change provided new learning experiences and boundless opportunities. My new responsibilities include classroom teaching, coaching and mentoring in teaching pedagogy, assisting staff in the integration of technology and implementation of a Senior Teacher project. The change has been refreshing and exciting. I feel rejuvenated and alive.
The contrast between working environments is overwhelming and truly enlightening. Pedagogical coaching and mentoring is part of the college culture of where I now work and the concept of community is evident within every aspect of school life. It has been a delight to have the principal view my teaching practice numerous times and provide feedback over coffee at the café located on school premises. The lesson observations were my first since being a student teacher and provided welcome professional insight. Working within a school that mirrors my professional interests in personal growth and educational research is both satisfying as much as it is rewarding. Engagement in the Art and Science of Teaching has promoted professional enrichment beyond anything I have encountered before. I have a deeper understanding of leadership and management. I have enjoyed being part of the team involved in coaching and mentoring teaching staff in educational pedagogy.
Opportunities for personal reflection on teaching practice have been purposefully woven within numerous staff meetings. The collaborative events have developed self-awareness of my teaching practice and reinforced the value of learning goals. It is these occasions that truly prepare one to be equipped for service. From recent workshops I have heightened awareness to clearly state achievement standards within unit investigations so students are aware of intended learning outcomes. Students also need to be provided with scales to measure their own growth so they can track their learning journey. This particular aspect of the learning journey is unfamiliar to me and I must quickly become acquainted with the need to include scales within lessons so students can monitor their own progress.
I believe that I have an exceptional skill in managing classroom behaviour. My rules, procedures and expectations are clearly outlined and reinforced. They are restated often and systems are in place to ensure students adhere to expectations. Behaviour management has a significant impact on the learning environment. I believe that positive relationships and connections with individuals creates a harmonious atmosphere and appropriate discipline techniques are an essential requirement to create an atmosphere conducive to learning. When a positive culture is established within the classroom students are able to achieve their personal best. Although I have strengths in the area I want to be more innovative and implement new ways to promote positive behaviour and interactions among peers.
To further my Professional Development students completed an online class survey. Results were returned and I analysed and reflected on the data. The feedback has been useful in determining strengths and weaknesses. Survey results reinforced my belief in being a “fair”, “approachable”, “understanding” and “caring” teacher. Responses indicated that Mathematics lessons need to be more interesting and since this observation I have made efforts to deliver content in a more favourable and entertaining manner.
I invested more than a decade in the classroom with absolutely no professional review. My professionalism was uncharted, aimless and had little guidance. Recent months have rejuvenated my professionalism and enabled mastery of teaching. As a result of recent events, I have a deeper awareness of my professional abilities. Professional reflection has empowered my teaching, broken misconceptions and affirmed my hidden assumptions. Professionalism has flourished as a result of meaningful professional development and purposeful staff meetings. My teaching practice is informed. Qualitative and quantitative data have provided recommendations while critical reflection has transformed my teaching practice. I am privileged to be engaged in Action Research with staff who are equally passionate about improving practice.