Reflection leading to action plan tools

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Reflection is a response to past experience and involves conscious recall and an examination of the experience as a basis for evaluation and decision-making and as a source for planning and action. Bartlett (1990) points out that becoming a reflective teacher involves moving beyond a primary concern with instructional techniques and "how to" questions and asking "what" and "why" questions that regard instructions and managerial techniques not as ends in themselves, but as part of broader educational purposes.

"Asking "what and why" questions gives us a certain power over our teaching. We could claim that the degree of autonomy and responsibility we have in our work as teachers is determined by the level of control we can exercise over our actions. In reflecting on the above kind of questions, we begin to exercise control and open up the possibility of transforming our everyday classroom life." (Bartlett, 1990. p267)

In my first reflective review at the end of year one I considered that I had always sub-consciously reflected, making mental notes of critical incidents and then trying to make sense of how I could avoid similar episodes or feelings from occurring again in the future. At the time I also considered the work of Curzon (2004) who suggested that 'this process is essentially one of self-criticism, which is rarely an easy task', and therefore the need to separate one's self from a situation, after it has occurred is necessary. The purpose of this reflective review is to consider specific critical incidents that have occurred during my second year; focussing on my development as a teacher and in particular how my ability to plan for learning is impacting on professional progress cross referenced with such standards as Q10, Q15, Q22, Q23, Q24, Q25 and Q31.

Primary Placement - St. Dominic's Catholic Primary

My classroom teacher was a young and really enthusiastic person, and made me feel welcome from the first moment; something that made it easier for me to fit in with the rest of the teachers throughout the school and also helped create a teacher/pupil relationship with the children quickly. Enthusiasm has been identified as a prominent teacher behaviour that affects student learning (Carlise & Phillips, 1984) and observing her enthusiasm had a great influence on me and my own attitude toward the course. During my time at St. Dominic's I was left in no doubt of where my future direction on this course was. Watching the teacher during lessons, how she presented the information to the class, interacted with the pupils and yet managed to keep respect, I could see a lot of similarities in our personalities, this is something that has absolutely dispelled any doubts I had about the course I'm studying on, if there was any, and also helped me take a step nearer to a decision regarding my future as either a Primary or Secondary teacher.

The more lessons that I observed there more I was becoming aware that the teacher was not merely imparting knowledge onto the pupils, but more trying to assist them in developing the pupils' thirst for knowledge in order to fulfil their individual potential. I took advantage of any break times to ask my mentor questions about her teaching, to try and link her objectives for her style of teaching with how I perceived it in my notes. By varying and developing her teaching methods over time she claimed to be also developing her approach to teaching. This stance is based on the principle that 'self' is the essential characteristic of the human being on the growth, worth and dignity of a person. As a result this creates a need for the 'self actualization' of the students (Maslow, 1970). Self actualization refers to the top level of Maslows' hierarchy of human needs, the need for self fulfilment (e.g. personal satisfaction, goal achievement). In the classroom this corresponds to students achieving their target grades. This works to support Rogers (1994), a key philosopher in the humanistic movement who said:

"The outstanding quality of the successful teacher is empathy - the ability to see someone else's problem through ones' own eyes and to communicate that understanding with clarity and care"

From the first day of placement at this school, I was allowed greater opportunities to be more active in the planning of lessons than in earlier placements, this was something that I felt was required to help my development as a teacher. The classroom teacher initially encouraged me to plan single lessons to fit with her planned units, leading to planning my own units of work for the class. This section will outline any issues I faced during my placement, with particular attention being paid to planning and classroom management.

St. Dominic's are a member of the International Primary Curriculum scheme which "believes that learning should be relevant and fun for children so that they remain engaged in their designed to help children learn essential knowledge and skills and develop an understanding of a broad range of curriculum subjects through thematic units of work...focuses on developing the personal qualities children need to be good citizens of the world and to develop a sense of their own nationality and culture." (WCL Group Limited). This particular style of teaching was not new to me as the theory of thematic based lessons was covered in my reading last year, therefore I felt very lucky to be able to put my readings into practice almost immediately with the planning and implematation of my 'Aborigine Unit' to fit in with the IPC theme of 'How Others See The World'. (Appendix 1)

Through the use of thematic and cross curricular teaching, I was able to cater for the three distinct groups of learners and, therefore, create an atmosphere in which each group remains interested in the lesson thus combating any boredom and increasing the pupils' potential for learning. Former Secretary of State for Education and Skills, Charles Clarke, wrote in the Excellence and Enjoyment Strategy (2004), "What makes good primary education great is the fusion of excellence and enjoyment. Children learn better when they are excited and engaged - but what excites them and engages them best is truly excellent teaching, which challenges them and shows them what they can do." Which falls in line with Larsen-Freeman's statement (2000) that learning becomes even more effective due to it being "facilitated in a cheerful environment", and Resnick's (1989) claim that this method increases pupils' motivation for learning and their level of engagement because they can see the value of what they are being taught and become more actively engaged in the lesson as opposed to the isolated skill learning that other methods offer.

Also during the thematic unit, as a teacher I was not only a supporter and helper but also a learner because the unit was a whole new topic to me, bringing me down to the same level of the child and hence allowing the pupils takes charge in investigations by asking questions and conducting their own research. Therefore my main role was merely to create an atmosphere in which learners feel relaxed and do not have any inhibitions thus learners' talents are exploited during the learning process. Therefore I really feel like I have a better understanding of my readings from the foundations module, and also I'm really pleased with how I managed to implement these new theories and techniques successfully. The fact that I have been able to plan such a unit, and have teachers in the school ask me for my plans for them to use next year has my confidence sky high and using this type of teaching is something I will definitely continue to use and develop.

Whilst there were successes in the area outlined above, I found some difficulty during the planning of a Literacy unit for the class. Having discussed the area to be covered with the classroom teacher, and analysed the ability of the individual children within the class, the idea of covering narrative poetry was not one that disturbed me too much, and my mind swam with many ideas linked to thematic learning as discussed above. However, I found my plans (Appendix 2) having to be constantly reassessed and changed throughout the 6 lessons due to the anticipated work not being completed, an issue mainly caused by other teachers taking certain groups of children out of lessons for other sessions. I found this practice to be very disruptive to the class, as children coming and going at seemingly random intervals just lead to their learning, and the learning of the class to be very 'stop-start' and therefore lessons would have to be spread over two hours instead of the intended one. This had to be done so that for the end of the unit, the children would be able to complete the tasks to an acceptable level.


Secondary Placement - Archbishop Beck Catholic Sports College

Throughout my secondary placement found my major difficulties, when not contending with a lack of observation time due to being on placement during exam weeks, was developing my behaviour management techniques. Throughout the first couple of weeks of my teaching time I often allowed students to get away with small things rather than confront the situation. On looking back this was for two key reasons. Firstly, this was to avoid confrontation. I now realise that what I should have aimed for rather than being liked was being respected. In this way gaining their respect would have helped control the group. Secondly, I was afraid of someone challenging my authority. Due to my lack of experience and a small age gap between myself and some of the students, I was worried that had I confronted them they would have challenged my position for this reason. This would have then lead to me losing the whole groups respect. Through meetings with my mentor and also self evaluation I have grown realise that I need to be strong in these situations and have confidence in my position. If I go in and attempt to gain their respect they will respect my position. Within the primary classroom, I was praised for my ability to maintain behaviour and order within the classroom (Appendix 3), however the techniques used here I felt would not be appropriate to use as sanctions and rewards in a secondary environment. This could be seen as naivety on my part, however my - for want of a better word - arrogance to go into a secondary classroom with no definite behaviour management techniques lead to my lessons feeling like a chore rather than a fun experience, and was brought up by my mentor on a few occasions (discussing the use of seating plans, and using detentions etc (Appendix 4)), the introduction of these techniques made my lessons less of a chore, however, there were a few pupils who resisted this new me, due to the lack of sanctions earlier in the placement.

It is a well documented scenario that students 'play up' the teacher, often behaving increasingly inappropriately to find out where the teacher draws the line, what they can get away with (Petty, 2004). This meant that the pupils began to 'act up' and misbehave whilst I was present. Their behaviour would be an attempt to see how far they could push me, to see where I drew the line. With this in mind, and being aware that enthusiasm and a 'fun' attitude was necessary within teaching, I was also conscious of the need to remain calm yet strict and fair with the group if I felt their behaviour was becoming out of hand. Previously, I had talked to my mentor who had talked about how she managed the classroom. At the time I was confused as she discussed how, when training, she was an introvert who had to learn to act as an extrovert in the classroom. In order to appear confident in the classroom and to gain the children's confidence, I have to act confident and sure of my control of the group. This is backed up by Petty (2004) who states that when going into a new class (or job) it is important to establish a formal authority for you as a teacher before any personal authority can be built. This is achieved by going into the classroom in a confident manner 'striding about the room as if you are absolutely confident of your ability to control the group'. This supports the old staffroom adage 'never smile before Christmas'. Only once the group respect your formal authority can you work to develop a personal authority where it becomes the desire of the student to please the teacher and build their own self image through the teachers' approval (Petty, 2004). As I prepare to take up my new post I will work to follow up this control to negate the playing up or testing out process which I expect from my new students. To do this I will keep in mind three basic points' outlines by Petty (2004) designed to improve assertiveness and make people more comfortable with it. These are: -

It is entirely appropriate for me to use my teachers' authority, as long as I use it in the interests of my students learning.

If I use my teachers' authority effectively, I may well upset some students for a short time. If I use it ineffectively, I will upset them for a long time.

If I do my best to be strict but fair, eventually I will succeed.

Q10 Have a knowledge and understanding of a range of teaching, learning and

behaviour management strategies and know how to use and adapt them, including how to personalise learning and provide opportunities for all learners to achieve their potential.



Primary: Feedback excellent. From observation use of rewards etc. Not used in 1st placement. Was successful. Obs feedback of how communicated with pupil was excellent, spoke directly, calmly and quietly leaving pupil in no uncertainty as to what was required from them

Q15 Know and understand the relevant statutory and non-statutory curricula and frameworks, including those provided through the National Strategies, for their subjects/curriculum areas, and other relevant initiatives applicable to the age and ability range for which they are trained.

Research internet (TDA web site) to access information in relation to this standard

Discuss with mentor

Plans for tutor input

Demonstrates awareness of NC guidance on PSHCE

As "Induction" but across an increasing range of age and ability as appropriate to the Key Stages for which they are trained

Aware of the range of curriculum options available post 14.

Understands frameworks and demonstrates knowledge and understanding of new initiatives - evidenced in lesson planning/observations/discussions covering all relevant Key Stages.

Q22 Plan for progression across the age and ability range for which they are trained, designing effective learning sequences within lessons and across series of lessons and demonstrating secure subject/curriculum knowledge.

Uses marking /AfL to inform and change plans for subsequent lessons

Independently produces a series of lesson plans which are designed to extend pupils' knowledge, skills and understanding

Lesson plans, resources, practice of teaching demonstrate secure and appropriate subject/curriculum knowledge in the  Key Stages for which they are trained.


Constant reassessing of medium term plan. From previous lesson.

Q23 Design opportunities for learners to develop their literacy, numeracy and ICT skills.




Q24 Plan homework or other out-of-class work to sustain learners' progress and to extend and consolidate their learning.

Homework in relevant Key Stages follows the aims of the lesson and enables pupils to practise the skills and knowledge they have learnt in class

Appropriate feedback given on homework in class and in pupils' books

Planned homework and out-of-class work takes account of learners' attitudes, needs and interests across all the Key Stages for which they are trained.

Literacy: POETRY. Find narrative poem and draw a picture of what it makes you think of. 10 day topic. No initial homework planned...was advised by teacher to plan some for over weekend to help with topic sinking in.

Q25 Teach lessons and sequences of lessons across the age and ability range for which they are trained in which they:

(a) use a range of teaching strategies and resources, including e-learning, taking practical account of diversity and promoting equality and inclusion

(b) build on prior knowledge, develop concepts and processes, enable learners to apply new knowledge, understanding and skills and meet learning objectives

(c) adapt their language to suit the learners they teach, introducing new ideas and concepts clearly, and using explanations, questions, discussions and plenaries effectively

(d) demonstrate the ability to manage the learning of individuals, groups and whole classes, modifying their teaching to suit the stage of the lesson.

How you modify lesson plans for different abilities; also record how lesson plans have been altered (describe and explain rationale)




Q31 Establish a clear framework for classroom discipline to manage learners' behaviour constructively and promote their self-control and independence.

Discuss with your mentor the policy for behaviour in school and in the department.

Plans lessons to engage pupils in learning.

Is developing the use of rewards and sanctions to help establish a positive learning environment.

Successfully uses positive behaviour management strategies in lessons.

Uses proactive management to avoid the need for imposing sanctions:

subtle reminders to students      

non-verbal cues

positioning in classroom

differentiated resources

use of praise.

Pupils clearly understand and respond to trainee expectations in all relevant Key Stages

Primary: Feedback excellent. From observation use of rewards etc. Not used in 1st placement. Was successful. Obs feedback of how communicated with pupil was excellent, spoke directly, calmly and quietly leaving pupil in no uncertainty as to what was required from them

Action plan

On reflection of this experience I have decided to work to ascertain a level of formal respect when I go into my new post at the end of the course. Petty (2004) states that when going into a new class (or job) it is important to establish a formal authority for you as a teacher before any personal authority can be built. This is achieved by going into the classroom in a confident manner 'striding about the room as if you are absolutely confident of your ability to control the group'. This supports the old staffroom adage 'never smile before Easter'. Only once the group respect your formal authority can you work to develop a personal authority where it becomes the desire of the student to please the teacher and build their own self image through the teachers' approval (Petty, 2004).


Intended action

Resources/ Support

Success criteria


Evidence of success

Eat better

Learn to cook

Cookery books,

web video tutorials

Edible cooking

By end of August

M&D happy with meal I cook for them