A showcase of undergraduate assessment items, or, the wild ramblings of a lunatic.....either one works.
EDC4000 Preparing for the Profession - ePortfolio
Domain 3 – Professional Engagement
There is a well-known saying, “It takes a village to raise a child” (Cara, 2012), and this is certainly true in modern education. Teaching is not just the sole domain of the teacher, but also other interested parties, including parents, friends, health specialists, sports staff, principals and other professionals – a broad learning community that works together to benefit the student (Cara, 2012). I believe that diversity does not just refer to students, as each member of this community brings unique skills and perspectives that will add value to this learning community; therefore, it is vital that in my work as a teacher, I can work cooperatively and collaboratively with these other community members to achieve positive outcomes.
Positive outcomes are also achieved through professional learning. If I expect to keep up-to-date with changes in the world for my students’ sake, then I need to invest in learning as well, for my own sake. I am enthusiastic about life-long learning, as it prepares me for changes in technology, legislation, curriculum, and anything else that could possibly affect my pedagogical practice. Professional learning is also grounding, reminding me what if feels like to be the student, on the receiving end of new information, so I may consider my students’ perspective. My learning also models this beneficial practice for my students’ benefit, and hopefully shares my passion for learning further.
Standard 6 – Engage in professional learning
6.1 – Identify and plan professional learning needs 6.2 – Engage in professional learning and improve practice 6.4 – Apply professional learning and improve student learning
As part of my TECE program, I was given the opportunity to experience professional learning and development, in preparation for my career as a practicing teacher. I am required to attempt a Personal Development Plan [or PDP] (Artefact 6A, still a work-in-progress), as well as attend some professional development [PD] sessions (Artefact 6B). This experience gave a practical understanding of an aspect of a teacher’s professional practice, that is not usually experienced on practicum episodes through university. It has provided the chance to look at areas that I felt needed improvement and find ways to improve that skill or knowledge (Standard 6.1).
Our society is constantly changing and growing, and this is reflected in our classrooms (DET, 2018a). Teachers then, are challenged to keep up with these changes by constantly reviewing their skills and knowledge, and updating or developing these professional qualities. Professional development is a dynamic part of lifelong learning for teachers –a metacognitive process that looks at the past through reflection, to the future through planning, and then takes action on this plan in the present (Postholm, 2012). Professional learning takes on a constructive approach, building on previous knowledge to create stronger skills to support our students, both now and later.
Given the diversity of students, one area I wished to improve upon, was understanding students and their ways of learning, as described in Standard 1. Living in a low-socioeconomic area, it is highly likely that some of my future students may experience living in poverty. Therefore, one of the PD sessions I chose was a full-day workshop that addressed the effects of poverty on young learners (Standard 6.2; Artefact 6C). This workshop was held in a large metropolitan school, in another low-socioeconomic area, with about 200 attendees, both teachers and preservice-teachers.
Two of the most important factors in helping students move out of poverty, which I learned in this workshop, were relationships and education (Payne, 2012). Teachers need to carefully consider the backgrounds and resources of these students, and provide supportive and respectful relationships with them before learning can even begin. Also, teachers must carefully and explicitly teach all hidden aspects of school as well, such as turn-taking or raising a hand to talk, rather than just assume prior knowledge, as students in poverty do not bring these understandings with them.
Creating a PDP has become a valuable part of my reflective practice, to see how far I have come, and also to take my professional learning forward into the future with practical knowledge and relevant strategies. I know the knowledge I have gained from this particular workshop will help me to understand my students better, to provide effective teaching, engaging learning episodes and supportive behaviour management (Standard 6.4).
Standard 7 – Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community
7.1 - Meet professional ethics and responsibilities 7.4 – Engage with professional teaching networks and broader communities
Earlier in my university degree, I was enrolled in a Philosophy course (EDC1300) as part of my Bachelor of Education. For the required assessment work, students were placed in collaborative study groups. My group consisted of seven first-year students, mostly mature-aged, and all studying online.
For our assessment tasks, each group had to create a series of three philosophical reflection essays (Artefacts 7A, 7B & 7C – relevant section headings highlighted in turquoise), based on the coursework. All group members were expected to collaborate online, despite never having met or worked together before. Marks allocated for our assessment were the same for each student, regardless of individual input.
This was the first collaborative exercise for many of our group members and provided a steep learning curve towards the level of quality collaboration expected in professional practice. Our group met up regularly for real-time web-conferencing sessions, although there were difficulties at first in organising times that were suitable for all members. Roles were chosen according to strengths and weaknesses, although members were later challenged to swap roles and learn new skills.
One aspect which is not clearly seen in the artefacts is the conflict which soon became apparent in the areas of fair and equal input. One member was not contributing as much as other members, which broke the assumed ‘workplace rule’ that all members would be cooperative and work equally hard (DeVito, 2014). This conflict was awkward for most of the group and took time to address. However, it was eventually resolved by remaining group members discussing expectations for conduct, next by addressing that member respectfully, then by enlisting a lecturer as mediator. Once this matter was resolved, all members began to work together successfully – it seemed unnecessary to include within the reflections at the time, although it was a valuable lesson to all.
Communication in general was respectful, but very limited and ineffective at first. It was discovered that by getting to know each other a little, and encouraging more personal communication, interpersonal relationships improved (DeVito, 2014). Communication then flowed more smoothly, members respected each other, and the overall collaborative process became enjoyable and productive.
As preservice teachers, we considered each other to be colleagues, all working towards the same common goals of education, as we would one day as professional colleagues (Standard 7.4). It was explicitly agreed that our conduct was to be as professional as possible, following guidelines in the Code of Ethics (QCT, 2008), such as integrity in our relationships, responsibility to work cooperatively, and respect each other as professional colleagues (Standard 7.1).
The results of our collaboration were evident in the improved marks on our group assessment, and positive comments from markers. Friendships formed through this process have also continued. Most importantly, I have learnt valuable skills to engage professionally with fellow colleagues, which I continue to develop.