Observations Assist Educators And Institutions Education Essay

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It can be stated that observations assist educators and institutions in terms of learning and teaching however should be commented that if an educator or institution wishes to define observation then it should be made clear in what context e.g. of the teacher practice, of the institution.

Bains (2006) highlighted two main categories, formal and informal observations. These must be an agreed upon before it takes place. Bains (2006) stated that Formal observations are those being used for Performance Management e.g. Ofsted. Informal observations are those used for professional development. These take part of internal monitoring systems. Peer observations are also considered to be informal.

The University of Sussex (no date) highlighted the importance of peer observation of teaching and that this enhances the status of teaching and learning and also strengthens quality assurance processes.

The University of Exeter (2005) determined peer observations to be an assessment of teachers by teachers though. Furthermore, pairings may be experienced by mentor/novice or by experienced teacher/experienced teacher. It could be argued that peer assessment can alternatively assess on various levels in terms of teaching experience.

It is also questionable whether the observation criterion assesses appropriately against the observed teacher. The peer observation however should help the teacher to develop teaching skills both by observing and being observed by a colleague. It should be highlighted that the main objective is to provide opportunities for teachers to reflect on his or her teaching.

The QAA (2000) in addition stated that peer observation provides educators with opportunities to learn from each other in a 'non-threatening environment'. This could therefore suggest that teachers would share ideas constructively to his or her professional benefit and within relation to professional values.

In summary, it can be argued that peer assessment is for the educators benefit. It is however argued how institutions ensure that students are being taught effectively and consistently.

In summary, peer observations are generally used to improve teaching practice and those who are new and fresh to a department.

It is worth commenting that peer assessment helps less experienced teachers to improve their teaching skills and to absorb shared values of the institution.

According to Pagani (2002) educators should have the freedom to choose peer assessor/observers. This approach could be argued as vague due to various reasoning behind fairness, equality and also being non-judgemental or critical.

Within agreement however Pagani (2002) stated that institutions should identify an area of focus for peer observation, for example, the introduction to new curriculum which external quality control mechanisms have revealed as needing attention to.

In summary, peer observations are useful and appropriate however there is some overlap and a lack of decisiveness to a concrete definition of observation. Furthermore, peer observations need to be carefully planned on the grounds of professionalism.

Peer observation should not be considered as 'informal practice' however as an important in-house procedure closely linked to formal and external guidelines such as Ofsted. In agreement with the hypothesis, Partington and Brown (1997) identified that peer review is an essential process for reviewing ideas and "catching mistakes" which improves the quality of a product/service. The authors argued that it is an opportunity for upfront criticism which is an important ingredient in peer reviews and a critical factor for quality improvement

Uses relevant models of reflective practice to critically analyse your learning on the Course

The course has been a beneficial and enjoyable experience however it is time now to reflect in and on practice within various stages which have highlighted times where improvement and action has been considered appropriate. According to Brookfield (1988) critical thinking is the linking of recent experiences to earlier ones which promote a complex and in depth discussion. Furthermore, Brookfield (1988) mentioned that a critical reflection should include commonalties, differences and interrelations. In summary, the aim is to develop higher order thinking skills to determine specific and more realistic outcomes.

There have been many occasions throughout the course which have been reflected on however it would prove difficult to reflect on the whole course due to such varied topics and vast complexity of discussion. Hatton and Smith (1995) designed a critical reflection model. The study of Hatton and Smith (1995) identified the framework for writing and identifying different kinds of reflection. This model will determine specific times and stages within the teaching practice spent at placement.

The first point of the model is descriptive and aims to create a starting point. To the attention of past reflections and practice it is a wise and an appropriate decision to reflect upon the micro-teach (pttls). The micro-teach was within the early stages of teacher practice and acted as a substantial starting point within teaching and reflective practice. The second point highlights descriptive reflections which attempts to provide reasons based upon personal judgment. I realised that a far more active approach to hospitality students was needed and in fact the VAKs strategy helped to lesson plan and plan time effectively.

The third approach will consider a dialogic reflection approach. Gradually, as the course continued, lesson planning developed to become more structured and defined in terms of my aims and objectives.

From reflective feedback on observations it came to the attention that a number of students did not respond to how lessons were planned. Thinking about this, this was down to the level of functional skills applied to the level delivered.

To my attention, work is needed on function skills delivery and how to apply them appropriately and effectively in lessons and in lesson planning.

The forth action point within the model must relate to a broader historical, social and/or political context and what better than my experience and knowledge gained throughout the independent study of the curriculum module. The study helped to generate some valuable points which were influenced by social, political, economical and technological factors.

Brookfield (2001) described Critical reflection to be a deliberate, consistent and systematic effort to uncover assumptions. Brookfield (2001) developed the "four lenses" model which seeks to analyse teaching practices.

The four lenses are our own experiences as learners, students, colleagues, and reading the professional literature. These help to reveal the assumptions behind those practices and call them into question. The model of reflection will help to critically analyse my teaching practice within the points identified above.

To start, my micro-teach. At the time I felt very nervous and apprehensive as I had never taught before.

As a learner, I found myself researching around my chosen topic which at the time became useful when I was asking students questions. I found that I was applying teaching techniques and strategies which were learnt in the first few weeks. I felt that through applying these teaching strategies they helped boost my confidence.

I used plenty of questions to engage learners and I applied the VAKs strategy to help all learners. The students engaged well to my micro-teach however I now believe that I needed a more student participation, 'active learning' approach. I personally found that the micro-teach went smooth considering it was my first time. Having now reflected on it, I think that more literature could have been used.

In summary, the micro-teach was certainly 'a stepping stone' towards becoming a successful teacher within the PCET sector. I found this a huge leap forwards and was extremely beneficial before going to placement.

After Christmas I personally felt under a lot of pressure as I was accumulating my teaching hours as well as working towards my assignments. Through regular lesson reflections I noticed that my teaching technique and style was too relaxed and many of my students started to use this towards their advantage. I realised after many lessons and observations that I needed to deliver my lessons with a more active approach.

As a learner, 'teacher trainee', I found that I was spending a lot of time on my lesson plans and they were not seeking the best out of student learning. I revisited my approach to teaching with my mentor who kindly geared me to seeking more active lessons with my students. I found that this helped tremendously in writing and structuring my lessons. I found myself researching around active lesson planning and how to effectively embed functional skills and the VAKs. As a result, I eventually found that students were learning effectively through their preferred methods of learning.

About half way through the course there were several issues regarding my lesson planning which were noticed by me and my mentor. My aims and objectives were not measurable and had a lack of direction.

As a learner/teacher trainee I felt as if this was something that could only come in time however actually I needed to react quickly. At the time it made me feel uncomfortable as I started the year feeling very confident in what I do. My mentor and other colleagues supported me by letting me look at their lesson plans. My mentor and I agreed that I would submit my lesson plans before delivery which in reflection helped me to understand and or rethink my aims and objectives. My lessons improved by being realistic about the aims and objectives and as a result improved student learning.

The course has certainly been a learning curve. One of the most challenging reports was the curriculum assignment. I personally found that the report involved a lot of reading around political, economical, sociological and technological topics. The curriculum models were difficult to understand so I tried to refer them in realistic context at my placement.

My mentor was very supportive and guided me through some of the models. In reflection, I think that curriculum models and the understanding of them are vital towards delivering specific courses such as the BTEC national diploma which I was delivering. Furthermore, this helped me to understand why they are structured the way they are in conjunction with the college.

Makes critical comment on the value of reflective practice in the development of professional teachers. (K4, A2, A3)

It would be appropriate to explain and define reflection before making assumptions and critical comments. Reflection is an everyday sense which is 'looking back' on experiences; and to learn from them. According to Osterman and Kottkamp (1993) there is reflection and critical reflection. Reflective practice is known as a vehicle which is used by teachers to explore, contemplate, and analyse experiences in the classroom.

Brookfield (1995) referred to critical reflective practice as the process of analysing, reconsidering and questioning experiences within a broader context of issues e.g. curriculum development, theories, politics, culture and or the use of technology. It can be stated that reflection is a process which analyses a point or action.

In addition, critical analysis could be used to understand why a point or action is how it is. Within reason, both types of reflection will be looked upon. As a metaphor, the reflective practice could be the foundations of a house. The purpose of reflection is clear however reflection doesn't dictate who, what, where, how and or why practitioners should carry out the process.

This leads on to the work of Brookfield (1995) and stated that critical reflection can be broken into a number of dimensions which addresses different activities and levels of reflection to make reflection more meaningful to the professional. The first three are part of the ordinary process of reflection however the fourth is that of critical reflection.

1. Descriptive

2. Descriptive with some reflection

3. Dialogic reflection,, relating

4. Critical reflection

Reflective practice, according to Brookfield (1995) stated that practitioners can develop to a greater level of self-awareness by evaluating performance. The author stated that practice can be improved through embedding and encouraging experiences using activities.

Within agreement, reflective practice is meaningful and improves practice however it could be argued that time and patience is an issue and not to forget how experienced the practitioner is. Meaning, reflective practice could prove more meaningful for a trainee teacher than an experienced teacher of over 10-20 years.

There are many angles which could be argued however it can be argued that reflective practice improves over time and not over night.

Hatton and Smith (1995) agreed upon the idea that creating self-awareness of one's practice using various teaching methods and skills allows the professional to consider alternative avenues.

Within agreement this would have a positive impact by increasing their level of self-awareness however it should be argued that one's self-awareness of teaching practice and professionalism develops in time as so would students in how they learn.

In addition, personal experiences and the experiences of colleagues should create an environment that enhances student learning. This leads to hypothesise that the experienced practitioner is a valuable asset to a beginner/trainee teacher and should help and assist in reflective practice to enhance the overall teaching practice.

Furthermore, Bruner (1990) highlighted that critical reflective practice is an ongoing process of making changes to enrich a curriculum. It would be agreeable that educators strive to be effective and students want to be creative and this would therefore suggest that the curriculum needs to reflect both parties concerns. There seems to be contrast and overlap to authors' opinions on reflection and being critical.

It is to suggest that all practitioners have aims and objectives which determine enhance teaching practices and students performances. Curriculum awareness is highlighted and that good reflective practice should aim to achieve the teacher in terms of teaching practice, the student in terms of grades and experience and the college in terms of league boards, attendance and reputation. Within agreement,

Bruner (1990) would recommend that teachers engage in critical conversations with colleagues which would enhance and determine educational philosophies, instructions, and responsibilities to students' growth. In summary of reflection, it should be commented that a practitioner should engage and reflect on self-awareness and with others to look back and to critically re-shape practice for the future regardless of experience. It should be expressed that reflection is wise and is compulsory towards becoming and or achieving higher standards of teaching practice for the practitioner, the students and the institute.

In addition, the professional practitioner should value students' comments which engage the students and the practitioner can understand the students better. This encourages students to become reflective in practice/theory.

Beaty (1997) agreed to stress that student feedback should be regularly obtained instead of waiting until the end. This would relate to upholding professional values and engaging with society.

To summarise, reflective practice is an important development tool for professionals because it enables us to learn from experience/s. Although, it should be argued that more and more experience does not guarantee more and more learning. This suggests that twenty years of teaching may not result to twenty years of learning about teaching. So, could it be questioned that one year is repeated twenty times. If this is the case, do you reflect honestly and effectively or do your teaching skills need revisiting. Reflective practice, as an educator, should consider a thorough progress to understand and evaluate a true vision of his or her teaching.

Additional research would be highly recommended within critical reflective practice.

Reviews appropriate opportunities for your personal professional development and discusses your acquisition of skills in relation to professional development. (A1, A3)

ATL (Association of Teachers and Lecturers) (2009) mentioned that in September 2007 all educators within further education and skills sector in England came under new regulations which revised teaching qualifications, including the introduction of licensed practitioner status.

It has made revised that continuing professional development (CPD) for all teachers is required to retain Institute for Learning (IfL) membership.

To gain and create opportunities within PPD and CPD action will be considered. First of all, up to this date, a review of my skills will be summarised which will help and assist the development opportunities.

As part of the PPD and CPD, IFL membership will be required in order to complete the CPD. Depending on a job after the course, full-time teachers are required to undertake at least 30 hours of CPD per year for professional development. CPD is a condition of retaining the IFL membership, and therefore being able to work in the further education and skills sector. According to ATL (Association of Teachers and Lecturers) (2009) The type and nature of activities are limitless and these can be made up of formal activities or more informal CPD.

Examples of informal CPD might be work shadowing, peer observation, attendance at subject-specific conferences, reading journal articles, or gathering up-to-date information on new curricula and qualifications such as 14-19 diplomas.

A skills audit was completed for the WBE 1 file which identified various weaknesses which could potentially be made into positive outcomes. In addition, WBE 1 and WBE 2 files were compared using the reflective practice gained throughout the course. The skills audit identified some weaknesses and also strengths. One of the main highlighted weaknesses was maths/numeracy skills and that consideration would be focussed to embed these into lessons. This was a smart target objective to accomplish before finishing the course. Secondly, writing and literacy skills and was more closely related to proof reading documents before submission. On the other hand, the audit highlighted that IT and communication skills were high and that confidence developed.

Action was considered using smart objectives which were defined to achieve in a step by step process however I still feel discomfort with my literacy and using maths in the classroom.

Reflective practice was collected towards the end of WBE 2 which announced that my confidence and teaching ability has developed in terms of lesson planning, time management and also subject knowledge through regular reading.

Reflective practice was progressive and quite like a rollercoaster, especially in WBE 1. In summary of my reflections it can be stated that the VAKs strategies were well enforced towards which helped hospitality students engage better in theory lessons. Also, an improvement was made to being decisive and direct to students which keep across in later specialist and generic observations.

Improvements however still need to be made. Towards the end of my teaching practice it was reflected that I am too patronising, being over enthusiastic and over passionate about teaching the specialism and in fact it was recommended that I maintain a straight level. I am a people person and I interact with customers well. Hospitality employers always seek for people like this as they charm their customers. I also have good organisational skills which have helped prioritise resources and lessons. My personal skills and knowledge enabled students to approach me with ease and I was keen to help and assist them.

In terms of PPD and CPD, an action plan will be considered to develop my teaching practice further. The next steps within my role as a professional front of house hospitality tutor/lecturer will consider many peer observations as I believe this will help me focus on how to deliver maths/numeracy effectively. I believe that team teaching and assisting in numeracy geared lessons would improve my practice.

Writing/Proof reading is something which has been a long term problem for a while as it was believed that I have dyslexia however it was proven that I don't. From now on I will try to gain some further assistance within the literacy department who may support my writing and reading skills. Proof reading has proved beneficial however I still seek for a second opinion.

Throughout my teaching practice, IT and communication skills worked to my advantage and I would now like to work with some specialised on-line equipment which will help to embed IT skills within future lessons.

The new curricula 14-19 diploma is new to FE colleges and I would like to be apart of tutoring a course for example, food and beverage service. By tutoring a whole group I would have the opportunity to liaise with other colleagues, the curriculum manager and be able to focus on my CPD. I will be able to utilise my organisation skills in lessons and be able to communicate effectively. Working with the 14-19 diplomas will also encourage me to embed functional skills as the diploma more emphasis on them. This would be an opportunity to improve my functional skills at the same time.


To conclude, professionalism is an important issue and holds value towards how we, as practitioners, should react and work collectively to providing education. The report highlighted that there are some conflicts to what professionalism is due to its complex nature. It was discussed that quality assurance is an important feature towards the overall contribution of the practitioner and was intervened with being an effective practitioner. Overall, the report was useful to critically analyse the concept of being professional and being a reflective practitioner. The report has also highlighted that there is a need to constantly review and reflect however to seek for continued CPD.