Element Six

 Element Six: Teachers continually improve their professional knowledge and practice.

I have...

 Throughout my practicum experiences I have demonstrated the ability to reflect critically on my teaching practice. At the conclusion of lessons or units of work, I undertake critical written reflections and discussions with my cooperating teacher. During these processes I utilise the 'Quality Teaching Framework' (2003) as a model for practice and a tool for appropriate discussion. Partaking in these actions enables me to evaluate student outcomes, alleviate issues and celebrate any successes. Throughout my professional experiences I have also sought opportunities to observe and reflect on the practices of other teachers to further my own understanding of pedagogy. Adoption of this critical approach to practice means I am able to continually improve my pedagogy as noted by my 2007 supervising teacher Jo Apostolatos; "Jessica responded positively to any suggestions offered for improving her teaching practise." Additionally, I seek to remain up to date by being a member of professional learning communities, including E-lit. 

As part of the honours component of my degree I am currently undertaking research into the implementation of gifted and talented programs and practices in a regional school. While allowing me to contribute to the learning of the professional community it has also enhanced my knowledge of provisionsfor gifted students at a classroom and whole school level. Additionally, partaking in evaluative discussions with peers regarding their projects has enhanced my own professional knowledge. Perfoming the role of an educational researcher has highlighted the importance of remaining up to date an informed with educational practice through a variety of means; policy, research and professional development sessions. 

I need...

 On the coming professional experience I need to interact with my colleagues through formal professional discussions regarding educational practices. Additionally, I will need to utilise any professional development opportunities which become available.

 I will...

 Achieving the above goals will require negotiation with my cooperating teacher to liaison with appropriate staff who may be able to assist my professional development through discussion and/or observation. These sessions would be negotiated at a mutually convenient time.

 I believe...

"I cannot teach clearly unless I recognise my own ignorance, unless I identify what I do not know, what I have not mastered."(Freire, 1996, p. 2) As a teacher I remain committed to professional development in order to improve my practice and promote a culture of lifelong learning in my classroom and school community. I have an 'expanded view of professional development' (Lieberman, 1996), thus encompassing the private, unaided experiences in which teachers overcome challenges withtin their classroom, informal and formal opportunities for development. This reflects my belief that teachers are life long learners, this is most eloquently put by Hargreaves (1994) who states that teachers have life-long professional needs and these will only be met if treated the same as any learner in terms of continuity and progession.

 As life long learners teachers must be producing knowledge about their practice (Kincheloe, 2003). Thus, I am a passionate believer of teachers adopting the role of researchers not only to solve issues withtin their classroom but to contribute to the learning of others. 

 Additionally, I am of the belief that teachers can only be successful learners if they are a part of a professional learning community and support network. Thus, the school represents a dynamic community of adult and student learners. 



  Jessica Coughlan, 2009