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Critical Reflection of Teaching: Analytical Essay

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When applying at James Cook University for a Bachelor of Secondary Education I had to explain why I wanted to become a teacher. At the time that I submitted my application, my response was “Through school, I was fortunate enough to be exposed to some excellent teachers that were brilliant at what they did, people I aspire to and developed from both academically and personally. The inspiration to become a teacher is the drive that I could be that person for someone else.”

While this response resonates with me, I would like to reflect on my experience in being in a classroom setting and educational literature to expand on my ‘why’ of teaching. I will focus on the contributions that I intend to make in schools, and importantly the young lives of students. Teachers are one of the largest contributors that makes a difference in a student’s educational development, making up 30% of the impact to students’ achievements (John Hattie, 2003). My limited time spent in a schooling environment has given me a better understanding of what it means to be a teacher, and the purpose of education as a whole. For many, education is the development of young people to become productive members of society, specifically curated for the modern workforce. I believe that while this has some merit, it neglects the growth that the students undergo as people. I find Arthur W Foshay’s writing to better encapsulate the true purpose of education, stating “The one continuing purpose of education, since ancient times, has been to bring people to as full a realization as possible of what it is to be a human being.” (Arthur Foshay, 1991, pp.277). Using my placement as an example, the teachers I spoke with had experiences helping students through difficult times in their lives, and cared just as much about the individual’s development as a person as they did their academic success.

I believe that teachers are in a unique position where they can implement ideas and lessons that will carry on in their students’ lives well beyond the classroom. Fostering communities within the classroom, and as a school, is a role that teachers play an active part in. The teacher is the liaison between the students, parents, and school, and this means they will be a large contributor to building inclusive communities. The most inclusive school communities are ones that brings students, parents and teachers together, and gives back to the community. Holding local events, sporting competitions, and fundraisers are excellent ways that schools can get involved at a local level. Communities that are inclusive give students a feeling of ownership of their environment and a sense of belonging within the classroom and school.

My placement school was comprised of a large and diverse cohort of students from various backgrounds. Specifically, the school had a significant population of students from Aboriginal, and Islander backgrounds. Reflecting on my time spent in these diverse backgrounds, I have noted the culturally responsive pedagogy that the teachers would implement into their teaching. The teachers had set content that had to be delivered as per the curriculum but the way the content was given and how they engaged with the students would vary. I noticed this in particular with extension classes compared to the development classes.

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At first analysis, I assumed that the pedagogical differences between classes was focused around intellectual skill level. That assumption while not entirely wrong, did not consider the physical, social and ethnic diversities within each classroom. I believe these factors can have just as much of an influence into the pedagogical choices made by the teacher. This was made clearer when I observed two classes that were both at the same development level but had a different percentage of students from ethnic backgrounds. The teacher adapted the content delivery to engage the students in dialogue that kept them focused on the subject. As a teacher, it will be crucial for me to recognise these classroom differences and consider the way I am influencing the learning of the students. Specifically what I can adapt to best suit the strengths and needs of diverse learners.

The position of a teacher within schools allows them to see the practicality and impact of the school culture and the way the school structures its learning environment. Because of their viewpoint, I believe that teachers have a duty to share their observations and have their recommendations considered when making alterations to the structuring of the school. “Any type of change introduced to schools is often met with resistance and is doomed to failure as a result of the reform being counter to this nebulous, yet all-encompassing facet – school culture.” (Elizabeth Hinde, 2004, pp.1). As a teacher I understand my position in the school and need to be prepared to use my observations to confront barriers within a schools culture and structure to promote change that will benefit the student’s ability to learn in an inclusive schooling environment.

I spent the duration of my time as a preservice teacher within a school environment in the mathematics department, and in the company of the senior maths faculty. This small and close nit group of teachers demonstrated collegiality and would frequently collaborate on their work. This collaboration reminded me of the benefits of working in tandem with fellow students on university work. In my experience, working and sharing with others helped keep me focused on the task at hand and reassured me on my ability to complete the work necessary. This is noted in Carole Awbery’s thesis on collegiality, stating “This study indicates that collegiality has the potential to develop self-efficacy and highlights the importance of a climate for collegiality, and emotional intelligence to improve educational improvement and school development.” (Carole Awbery, 2013, pp.1)

It is an important responsibility as a teacher to strive for student success and maintain high expectations of the students. This culture of excellence is a foundation in school cultures across Australia and the world. Setting high expectations for students gives them something to strive for, and importantly helps the students to visualize themselves at the higher level of achievement as a direct result of the teacher’s belief. I think that creating a culture for success also will positively influence the teacher’s attitudes towards learners and promote more effective teaching practices (The Education Hub, 2018). Looking back at my time in classrooms, this success culture was observed across the spectrum of skill levels from extension classes through to the development levels. Regardless of the student’s results, the teachers kept the bar high and pushed the students to get out of their comfort zone and aim higher. I believe that always set the standard high and cultivating this culture of success will be one of core responsibilities I will have as a practicing teacher.

I believe that learning and education is a never ending process. Even after schooling, and higher education, you will continue to learn and grow in your career. This is especially important as a teacher, whose job is to develop and educate the next generation of learners. Initially, on the topic of professional learning I would think of being up to date on content related to your subject areas. While this is important, I believe the greater task is learning and developing as an educator. The significance of teachers as lifelong learners and its link in improving student learning outcomes has been demonstrated by the OECD TALIS (OECD, 2018). Furthermore, engaging in professional learning is one of the seven teacher standards outlined in the AITSL (AITSL, 2011). Personally, I have always sought to further educate myself in professional environments and is something I will be actively participating in as a teacher throughout my teaching career.

References

  1. Hattie, J.A.C. (2003, October). Teachers make a difference: What is the research evidence? Paper presented at the Building Teacher Quality: What does the research tell us ACER Research Conference, Melbourne, Australia. Retrieved from http://research.acer.edu.au/research_conference_2003/4/
  2. Foshay, A. (1991). The Curriculum Matrix: Transcendence and mathematics. Journal Of Curriculum And Supervision, 6(4), 227.
  3. Hinde, E. (2004). School Culture and Change: An Examination of the Effects of School Culture on the Process of Change. 11.
  4. Awbery, C. (2013). Collegiality as a leadership strategy within 21st-century education- A single case study (Ph.D.). The University of Birmingham.
  5. The education Hub. (2018). High Impact Teaching: How to develop high expectations teaching [Ebook]. Retrieved from https://theeducationhub.org.nz/
  6. OECD. (2018). TALIS 2018 Results (Volume I). Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/education/talis 2018-results-volume-i-1d0bc92a-en.html
  7. Teacher Standards. (2011). Retrieved 5 November 2019, from https://www.aitsl.edu.au/teach/standards

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Critical Reflection of Teaching: Analytical Essay. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 5, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/critical-reflection-of-teaching-analytical-essay/
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Critical Reflection of Teaching: Analytical Essay. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/critical-reflection-of-teaching-analytical-essay/> [Accessed 5 Dec. 2022].
Critical Reflection of Teaching: Analytical Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Mar 17 [cited 2022 Dec 5]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/critical-reflection-of-teaching-analytical-essay/
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