Reflecting on Practice
This study outlines the way that reflective practice has helped me to understand the difficulties of using a whole-school teaching programme (Building Learning Power) as a trainee. It critiques the programme and uses reflective practice theory to make sense of the effect it has on my teaching, on student learning as well as whole school issues.
In this assignment I intend to reflect upon my use of the ‘Building Learning Power’ (BLP) programme (Appendix 1) in my secondary geography teaching practice. The enquiry is based at *********School - a large, mixed comprehensive school in Dorset, rated ‘outstanding’ by Oftsted. As BLP is a leading whole school approach I have been exposed to numerous forms of BLP-focused training. This includes a learning conference (with Professor Guy Claxton – originator of the programme), faculty workshops, twilight sessions and regular one-to-one trainer meetings. I feel this is the area which is having the greatest effect on my teaching practice and is also the most exciting and challenging aspect of my work.
My aim is not to become an expert in BLP, rather it is to analyse, evaluate and reflect upon my use of BLP, it’s effect on learners and the effects as a whole-school culture. As an aid to stay focused and for criteria to measure against I have summarised these relatively broad aims in the form of questions I intend to answer (Appendix 2). I am aware that these initial enquiry lines may change as I progress into my reflection.
The way I will be doing this is through the use of my own written thoughts and feelings (reflection in writing) and the use of three classroom stories from other people’s perspectives (although this is not an extensive amount of data it will be sufficient for the purposes of this study). This relates to Bolton (2003:5) who emphasises the importance of story writing as a ‘first order activity’ in order to explore and express ones self. Writing whilst thinking is an essential means for me to truly reflect and learn, as ‘[w]rating is also a way of ‘knowing’ – a method of discovery and analysis’ (Richardson 1998:345). It is important that I try to see the world through the eyes of a student (Bolton, 2003) to distance myself from my own feelings and thoughts and to understand other perspectives. Furthermore, my reflection will be informed by insights from wider reading, an essential part of being inspired as a trainee teacher. I will include both objective and subjective evidence whilst describing classroom teaching and learning.
An issue of concern to me is the way that a whole school agenda can work ‘on the ground’. I have noticed that the BLP initiative has not been taken up evenly across faculties and by individual staff. Through numerous observations I have been able to see BL P in action and am keen to evaluate my own use of it. This enquiry is significant to me as I feel it has relevance in the wider realm of education. It is essential that as I learn, I stay at the forefront of the teaching practice as I hold high expectations for future change within education. To start out challenging myself to innovations some experienced teachers do not choose to maintain, will only enhance my potential. I believe the future of teaching will in some form be based upon the importance of ‘expanding the capacity to learn’ (Claxton, 2007), as the importance of cognitive psychology becomes more clearly connected to the profession. I feel this is particularly important with the rapid changes within education and the large consensus forming the view that ‘one of the core functions of 21st century education is learning to learn in preparation for a lifetime of change’ (David Miliband, 2003). This is not a new opinion however, as Sir Richard Livingstone explains: ‘The test of successful education is not the amount of knowledge that pupils take away from school, but their appetite to know and their capacity to learn’...
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