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Element 6

Element 6: Teachers continually improve their professional knowledge and practice 

Capacity to analyse and reflect on practice

6.1.1 Demonstrate a capacity to reflect critically on and improve teaching practice. 

Engagement in personal and collegial professional development

6.1.2 Demonstrate knowledge of the professional standards framework and its impact on the professional life of a teacher.

6.1.3 Demonstrate knowledge of the available professional development opportunities and the importance of personal planning to ongoing professional growth. 

Capacity to contribute to a professional community

6.1.4 Demonstrate knowledge of the importance of teamwork in an educational context.

6.1.5 Accept constructive feedback to improve and refine teaching and learning practices.

6.1.6 Prepare for and contribute to discussions about the teaching profession or subject/content.

6.1.7 Explore educational ideas and issues through research.

6.1.8 Recognise the range of policies and policy documents that teachers in NSW may need to comply with following employment in a school. 

I believe it is essential that teachers constantly reflect on their professional knowledge and practice to ensure they are catering to all students’ needs and developing in accordance with current and new educational research innovations. Educators need to assess their pedagogies from all facets to ensure they are providing students with optimal learning experiences.   

I believe in order to continually improve as a teacher, it is also valuable to work cooperatively with associates and colleagues through planning, sharing, and deliberating classroom experiences. This allows for a broader and richer perspective and understanding of teaching practices and knowledge and also allows for personal growth as an educator and a lifelong learner. 

During my past professional experiences, I have always kept a journal to reflect upon lessons taught. On all my lesson plans, I include a list of questions that also help me to evaluate and reflect on the effectiveness of the learning experiences planned (Appendix 2 and 3). E.g. Did the lesson work well? What were the high and low points of the lesson it there were any? Where the instructions clear? Where the students engaged all the time? This not only helped me to improve future lessons (Appendix 5), but it also allowed me to assess my strengths and weaknesses and pinpoint areas that needed to be developed in order to become an effective educator.   

I found during practicum that one of the things that assisted my development as a pre-service teacher was the feedback provided by the cooperating teacher and mentor. Their advice helped give me direction and expand my knowledge of teaching practices. With each lesson observation feedback guide, I was able to focus on an area of development and monitor my progress. In essence, through reflection, I was able to improve my professional knowledge and practice.  

Having another teacher in the classroom during practicum also allowed me to experience co-teaching. This meant individual needs of students were able to be met successfully and teamwork was exercised in an educational setting. By communicating with colleagues, it also allowed me to gain different perspectives, advice and feedback regarding a range of educational issues (Ground-water Smith, Ewing & Le Cornu, 2003, p.325). 

Compiling this portfolio together has demonstrated the importance of reflecting upon my own teaching practice in order to grow professionally, and it has also enabled me to develop my understanding of the professional teaching standards. As a result, I have also had the opportunity to discover my achievements and aspects which still need to be addressed and developed during my next practicum.    

Last year, I studied a subject called “Curriculum and Evaluation”. This unit allowed me to explore a range of NSW curriculum policies and documents and investigate the phenomena and controversies that surrounded curriculum from a political, social and economic point of view.  

Although my understanding in that area was developed, I still feel the need to expand my understanding of other NSW policies and policy documents that I will have to comply with following employment in a school. I will do this by engaging in wider reading, to explore educational issues and ideas, and also through accessing online documents or resources that are available in our curriculum library at our university. Latham believes this is necessary, in order for teachers to make positive contributions to the profession and to enhance teaching and learning practices (Latham et al, 2006, p.298).

I will also continue to attend workshops and lectures with Department of Education and Training and Teachers Federation personnel. 

References:

Groundwater-Smith, S., Ewing, R. & Le Cornu, R. (2003). Teaching challenges and dilemmas. Australia: Thomson 

Latham, G., Blaise, M., Dole, S., Faulkner, J., Lang, J., & Malone, K. (2006). Learning to teach: new times, new practices. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

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