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Having recently taken over a group, introducing myself and recording the learner's names was carried out. Most of the members of the group have been taught by me at some time in their first year. Telling the learners of my relevant back ground history in the fabrication and welding industry, and what was expected of them now they were in my group was my opening gambit. The group is all male of mixed ages and abilities. The technique personally used is based on Gibbs Cycle, looking at what occurred, carrying out an evaluation, analysing the session, concluding what else could have been done to rectify the situation, and having an alternative action plan in place. By using this technique I can reflect on sessions and implement any necessary changes. The diagram below shows how this theory is implemented.
Gibbs G (1988) Learning by Doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. Further Education Unit. Oxford Polytechnic: Oxford.
Gibbs' reflective cycle can be really useful in making you think through all the phases of an experience or activity. In a group of level 2 learners that are taught by myself there are some persistently late learners, and they are slowly realising that in industry the timekeeping issue would be a major issue as they would be made redundant. Due to the problem of lateness my mentor advised to implement a learning contract, this was put in place. At the next couple of sessions the learners who had been late arrived on time. The group said that they realised that being relaxed with them worked as they are starting to achieve and also realised that timekeeping issues were important. This technique appears to be working and is being used with all of the groups that I cover.
Setting specific measurable achievable realistic targets (SMART) with groups has definitely worked. The learner's achievements will be recorded on a matrix tracking sheet. This is carried out to see if any of the learners require further support to assist with development. (See appendix 1) Copy of tracking sheet & x200
A further group of learners are at level 1 and a mixed gender group. The only female of the group arrived some twenty minutes late for the first session. She was integrated into the session and after a while they were sent for a comfort break, this gave the ideal opportunity to approach her about time keeping. Her response was "I am always late; hurry up it's my break time". Apparently her break time must be more important than my teaching session! Asking her if she required assistance, the response was "I am a girl that's why I get treated different". Assurance was given that she would be treated equally to the rest of the group. As the session was closing the group were gathered around the bench and asked if any learning had taken place, and what had been covered. One of the learners said "yes when do we get you again, I like you" another replied "yes get here on time". After that response I replied that if timekeeping improved slightly longer breaks will continue, in this instance Taylor's theory is being used.
Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856 - 1917) put forward the idea that workers are motivated mainly by pay. His Theory of Scientific Management argued the following:
"Workers do not naturally enjoy work and so need close supervision and control.
Therefore managers should break down production into a series of small tasks".
The way I incorporate Taylor's theory is instead of pay, longer breaks are allowed. Hopefully given time this group will start to realise that respect is a two way thing.
There appears to be light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, and another session has just been delivered to the same group and the female learner turned up on time. Praise was given with a slight hint of humour. The learner has since turned up repeatedly on time and other tutors are asking what was said to make her change. Perhaps it is just that she now feels part of the group and equality is in place. Recently questioning a group about an open night at another training centre some replied "I couldn't be bothered to go" and one of the older learners gave me some positive feedback that reassured why I strive for professionalism. The learner told me that the standard of work on display was not as good as they were achieving; he said you would not have passed that work. This was praise from one of my learners; respect is obviously being gained on both sides. The learners are beginning to realise that the feedback they receive is relevant. (See appendix 2) X200 Feedbacks.
The next session went pretty well in some respects; everyone made a good effort and produced a weldment of a standard that could be improved upon although their approach was rather hurried and deficient in thought. Reflecting on this, a way to make them think more, experiment more, and set themselves higher standards is required. They do not like me looking at their work, and it is as if they know the standard is not as good as it could be. Getting them to present their work to each other next time, to carry out peer assessment might make them take more pride in it.
As a result of this peer assessment has been introduced. They still seem a little reluctant and keep approaching me, although some of the learners are now realising what is required. The standard required to complete a task is outlined by the qualification awarding body. These standards have to be adhered to and this is relayed to the learners. By using these standards we are all aspiring to assess at the same level, I personally like to see a good quality finish to any of their work as this raises the learner's chances of employability. The learners are reminded of where some of the former learners are now employed, this makes them realise that their goals can also be achieved.
RJ2. Reflection on own specialist knowledge and skills.
Having recently been asked to cover a session whilst a tutor was on a trip for development, made me consider how personal skills could be developed. The group were work based learning apprentices at level 2. The session being covered was in welding and this particular process is one that is favoured personally. The learners were given a drawing and required to create the three welds in various positions. This particular task makes the learners aware that we do need to be able to read and work to relevant drawings. (Appendix 3 Bearing Support Bracket drawing) Some of the learners had not covered this particular welding process and asked if a demonstration could be given. Carrying out the demonstration reassured me that I had the necessary skills. Reviewing and updating my personal skills is carried out in several different ways.
The learners are up to date with all of the technology that is available; although my personal belief is that you can not better hands on experience. Having worked in this industry for approximately 30 years has given me a wealth of knowledge in most aspects of engineering. The learners are soon aware if the tutor has the relevant skills and knowledge, they will ask probing questions at this level. This is encouraged, and on reflection possibly more probing questions should be asked at level 1. Enhancement of trade knowledge has major benefits; one is that when current information is available and also relevant, this can be relayed to the learners. This in turn makes the learners confident that the tutor is knowledgeable, and also working with current regulations and techniques. The session was covered well and the apprentices were challenged to ascertain what learning had taken place. My personal belief is that as tutors we need to constantly update our skills and knowledge. Researching relevant websites ensures that you cover your current curriculum and qualification structure within your specialist area. Reading journals and also meeting with representatives of companies is another good technique which I have personally used throughout my career. Whilst being employed by the Institute our department has started to invite guest speakers from industry to give talks and demonstrations to the learners. This reiterates what is being taught is up to date, and that the correct knowledge is being passed on to the learners.
The qualifications I achieved in fabrication and welding are at level 3 and awarded by City and Guilds. The standard I achieved was at distinction level, this is because I strive for professionalism. Training my learners to aim for high standards will make them more eligible for employment. Raising their standards and quality assists them to gain a recognised qualification. Passing on relevant knowledge and linking this to industry appears to be working, this is linking theory to practice. This gives more credibility with the learners as they know what is being taught is relevant. Updating skills and knowledge makes for better teaching and learning from the tutors' point of view, this can then be relayed to the learners and assessed to ensure that learning has taken place. 510
RJ3. Audit of literacy,language, numeracy and ICT skills in your specialist area.
Literacy and numeracy are being integrated within the sessions delivered, getting the learners to measure and mark out their work pieces makes them realise why these skills are required. Having recently undergone some training on Information and communication technology (ICT) will help to integrate this within my sessions. Learners that are unsure are given guidance by demonstration; this could be a practical task or relating theory to an example. Information and communication technology (ICT) is now used in both theory and practical sessions. An interactive board has been installed in the workshop; this can now be utilised in the practical sessions being delivered. I have developed interactive word searches that are linked to the relevant subject that I am delivering. The learners enjoy this type of session; they are unaware that I am observing if they have retained terminology delivered in theory sessions. These are displayed on the interactive board and learners are asked to find a word and explain its meaning. If the learner is unsure there are two options given, they may go and research the word or an explanation is provided. The explanation is sometimes given by one of the other learners and this is noted as an indication to what knowledge has been retained and by whom. The interactive board is also used to link the sessions to industry by showing relative video clips.
Having just delivered the Technical Certificate module this is a good time to carry out a hot reflection. The module covers various aspects of engineering, from small bore pipe work to mechanical engineering. The workshop environment where the learners gain their practical skills is ideal to integrate functional skills. The learners are required to mark out a board following a drawing and attach pipe work. This particular task necessitates the learners carry out basic addition, subtraction and division of numbers. This is an effective way of incorporating application of number in a practical session. The task also involves working with others and problem solving; the task requires brackets to be positioned in various places so that the pipe work is supported. The learners have to decide where they are going to secure the brackets, and also have to share the tools required to complete this task. The boards used for this task are quite large and this incurs health and safety issues. This problem is actually quite advantageous as this makes the learners aware of the health and safety issues.
The learners are required to use peer assessment on this task, this in turn covers communication skills as the learners read and interpret the drawing. Discussing the task with fellow learners is encouraged as this promotes inclusion. Tutor feedback is given when the learner feels that the task is completed to the required standard. The pipe work is pressure tested to ensure that there are no leaks; this is also done in industry prior to the task being commissioned. Reflecting on this session made me consider should the learners have more classroom sessions to improve their literacy and numeracy skills. In conclusion the advantages would be to condition the learners themselves to consider the importance of these functional skills prior to each session.
I feel that the literacy, numeracy and ICT skills that I have achieved are relevant to deliver the sessions to the learners. These skills are constantly required to be updated as ICT is always developing.
RJ4.Reflection on key resources in your specialist area.
Being still in contact with this industry is an excellent way of updating current standards. The core subject of fabrication and welding has not changed much over the years, although more modern equipment and the ever changing health and safety laws have. A very good resource for keeping in touch with development and health and safety laws is the internet. The learners are constantly advised to research certain areas and feedback when I pass on new knowledge to them. The only disadvantage is that there is so much information out there that it is advisable to use the websites which reflect the curriculum area remit, and also cover the requirements of the relevant awarding body.
With the exception of the Technical Certificate module, the fabrication and welding course does not appear to have changed a great deal from when I completed the course some 30 years ago. The same methods and some of the same tasks are still being covered; I feel this is because the staffs are in their comfort zone. After conferring with other tutors it appears to be reluctance to change. I consider it is time for change to keep up with industrial needs, and this will also be beneficial for the learners. Evidence suggests that with the rapid advance of ICT, it most definitely would not be good practice to stand still. We need to develop further skills and carry out regeneration.
Crowne S. Chief Executive of Becta writes: Year and page no
"Technology has a great potential to transform the further education system and the lives of learners it serves. Some colleges and providers already use technology very effectively, and they and their learners are benefiting accordingly. Many are making good progress, exploring how technology can open up teaching and learning and improve their business systems. Others, however, have really yet to make a start and have mixed feelings about technology. So it is essential that we do everything we can to support colleges and providers as they make these changes and move forward".
If the relevant authorities are advising that it is time for change then surely we should be reacting accordingly.
After carrying out reflections on my own teaching practices, my belief is that as teachers, we should advance with the available technology. This would ensure that we review our teaching practices frequently; this in turn would enhance learning and make sessions more interesting for the learners. There are materials and methods that are used for many years; my personal belief is that budgets are governing development within our area. Resources become damaged and worn and the equipment is not reviewed or adapted to suit our learner's needs. The books, resources and equipment should be updated annually to ensure that we are delivering relevant material and techniques. After analysing this situation it is definitely apparent that the members of staff are in their comfort zone.
Reflecting on my sessions has made me more aware that progress is needed in our curriculum area. As tutors we need to implement change and review our practices regularly.