Sunday, 26 June 2016

Reflective Practice: So here we are...

Week 32 - Applied Practice in Context: Reflective Practice - Putting it all together
So here we are, at the end of the Mind Lab certificate course in applied technologies and collaborative learning and I’m a wee bit sad.
I think about how I shut myself into a bedroom for a weekend to complete the very first assignment for Digital and Collaborative Learning in Practice and the disappointment when my mark was not indicative of the work I felt I’d put into the submission.  Part of the problem was not having a routine to study, one that I now feel I’ve managed and mastered.
There was surprise that we had to write essays and frustration on two accounts: the word limit and the lack of feed forward.  While I agree that being succinct is a necessary skill (let’s face it, we all ended up skimming and settling on the summary in our literature review research, right?) I’ve been reflecting on an assessment system that has to fit in with the requirements of a traditional tertiary qualification system.
There was total brain preoccupation with the topic of my literature review for weeks, maybe months. And the pile of books that stayed on the dining room table like a semi-permanent monument to the pain of having it hang over me.  
But, there was the satisfaction of actually getting into those tomes and finding out about an area of pedagogy that had worried me for ages: how can we make students self regulating learners as they need to be if we are going to engage them in a new iteration of school? How will we ensure they are making the best of their interests and skills to cope in the world of wicked problems they are going to move into?
I loved the collaborative learning in our workshops and that we weren’t given the solutions.  “He who does the work does the learning,” kept popping into my head (a quote attributed to Doyle, but I think, much older). Yes, clever.  No one rescued us.  
I love the online community; I’ve embraced online discussion for a number of years.  As I said in a comment on Stephanie Thompson’s blog,
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- comment, June 24, 2016.
This Applied Practice in Context paper has been my favourite. I’ve relished the bites of different topics I’ve digested each week: reading the class notes at the start, reading the set and other references, and finally writing when I’m sure I can do it in one sitting,  because my thoughts have been chewed over for long enough.
This blog has been the vessel of my reflection for a while.  I label each post against the Practising Teacher Criteria.  I can match my learning over this course to most of these criteria, but I will reflect here on two:
Criteria 9: Respond effectively to the diverse and cultural experiences and the varied strengths, interests, and needs of individuals and groups of ākonga.  This has been my drive since I first became aware of the term modern learning environments, which have morphed into innovative learning environments.  How has learning practice innovated? Do we need to scaffold self regulated learning? Can we and should we if we are still in a tradition single cell classroom? Is this the answer to engagement and student achievement? Will greater awareness of individual learning needs ensure that schools are culturally responsive?  I plan to follow through with my inquiry plan on this topic and it preoccupies my thoughts about our own school’s pedagogy.

Criteria 5: Show leadership that contributes to effective teaching and learning.  We have two main professional development foci at my school in literacy and numeracy.  Interestingly it’s difficult getting some teachers to embrace reflective practice. Dawson (2012) reminds me that reflective practice and self regulated learning is the same thing.  Here’s a quandary: the senior leadership team have recognised through our data that writing and mathematics have a large number of under achievers.  So have the teachers.  We need to look at and change what we do.  We recognise that teaching as inquiry is the most effective method of changing our practice, and for teachers to own the change.  But the big issue is workload.  We need to look at how we support our teachers to ensure they can complete rigorous, evidence based change.  The Professional Learning and Development Advisory Group’s 2014 report acknowledges this lack of time as one of the issues (p.11).  

We tried an “in school” approach: groups of teachers released and allowed to determine their own discussion topic for this time; we predetermined that that was how it should be run. Feedback was that it was worthwhile, but also that some did not think they had time to be out of the classroom.

Self regulated learning and teacher development are my ongoing goals.  I’ve completed one paper towards my Masters in Educational Leadership and now this Post Graduate Certificate in Applied Learning.  I want to keep studying and my next decision is which pathway will I follow.  I am a self regulated learner and love that digital technologies and collaborative learning have enabled that to happen.

Davis, M. (2003). Barriers to reflective practice: the changing nature of higher education. Active Learning in Higher Education, 4(3), 243-255. doi: 10.1177/14697874030043004
Dawson, P. (2012) Reflective practice. Retrieved from
Doyle, T. (2008). Helping students learn in a learner centered environment: A guide to  teaching in higher education. Sterling, VA: Stylus.
Hobbs, V. (2007). Faking it or hating it: can reflective practice be forced? Reflective Practice, 8(3), 405-417. doi: 10.1080/14623940701425063

Ministry of Education (nd). Practising teacher criteria and e-learning . Retrieved from
Ministry of Education. (August,2014). Report of the professional Learning and development advisory group. Retrieved from

Osterman, K. & Kottkamp, R.(1993). Reflective Practice for Educators.California.Cornwin Press, Inc. Retrieved on 7th May, 2015 from