Introduction ……………………………………………………………………… 1 Personal Contract ………………………………………………………………… 2-3 Reflective Essay ………………………………………………………………….. 4-9 Critique of Articles
Article # 1 ………………………………………………………………………..10-12 Article # 2 …………………………………………………………………………13-15 References ……………………………………………………………………….. 16
This portfolio is based on Unit 3 of the course ‘The Emerging Professional – Professional Ethics and Teacher Relationships. The portfolio was done as a requirement and has deeply motivated me in my pursuits to be a teacher. Development is never-ending and I truly appreciate this course for its focus on professional and also personal development. It consists of a ‘A Personal Contract’ that explains my commitment to teaching; ‘A Reflective Essay’ on my personal and professional development –and I will also be ‘Critiquing two news paper articles on contemporary issues that relates to the teacher as a professional’. The essay explains how this course has enhanced my holistic development and how I will remain commitment to the task of teaching even when the contributing factors scream it is impossible A critique is a critical review of a piece of work that analyzes, interprets, and evaluates the text; answering the questions how, why, and how well. A critique does not necessarily have to criticize the piece in a negative sense. It can be either positive or negative or a combination of the two. However, it is important to explain why a particular response is given.
I believe that ‘I must never limit my challenges but always challenge my limits.’ I believe that teaching is undoubtedly a revolving cycle and that it is challenging. In this profession, it is expected that knowledge impartation will always be evolving. It is my view that every child can learn and every child must learn – whether the child is exceptionally gifted or not. I believe that effective teachers are so equipped to recognize a child’s particular learning ability and assist that child accordingly. Each child has his/her own ways of learning and in order to encapsulate all children that are assigned, the effective teacher will be one that is quite observant to recognize when a particular child learns differently from others. will be carefully observant in my quest and will identify diversity issues and appropriately address them. I believe that no man is an island and no man stands alone; although much is expected from teachers, I will seek advice when it is needed and I will refer situations to higher authorities if the correct course of action demands it. I understand that each child is an individual and needs to be treated as such. I believe that an effective teacher is unprejudiced and unbiased and that each child must be treated equally. The teacher must be so discerning that when an issue presents itself, it can be easily identified and addressed so as to not have such matters escalating beyond reach. I believe that a teacher must be knowledgeable, patient and understanding. The teacher should endeavor to follow the code of regulations outlining all the laws concerning the education system in Jamaica. An effective teacher must behave ethically and professionally in all aspects. I recognize that the role of a teacher is wide and elaborate. Each role has its demands and a human being can only be that – a human being. However, humans are endowed with noble and empathetic capabilities that allow us to act with emotional intelligence in cases that requires it. I will be committed to my decision to assist in developing the nation’s children to be better individuals of tomorrow. My desire to enhance the lives of children will be the commanding factor that will keep me committed. I have been through countless trials, neglect, hurt and discrimination and so I understand and share the pain of children who appear to experience these conditions. I keep reflecting on how as a child I wanted to have been treated and this propels me to treat children in said manner.
Effective teaching is much more than an intuitive process (Ryan, Cooper 2001.) In my quest to eventually become a teacher, I have recognized that one of the most profound characteristic of an effective teacher is to self-reflect. The strategic outline of this course has allowed me as a student to garner knowledge and reflect deeply on understanding the development of self and identity and also how I will be able to positively impact the lives of children. Personal and professional development is also paramount in being an effective teacher. The teacher must also be aware of diversity issues that might exist among students and explore ways in which this can be addressed. In a profession as challenging as teaching, honest self-reflection is key. This means that we as teachers must regularly examine our teaching strategies and take notation of strategies that have yielded success as well as the strategies that have caused failure in one way or another. In this way, the teacher will be able to pinpoint areas that need improvement and areas that can be discarded - this results in the teacher ultimately being an effective one over time. In this course I had to deeply reflect on my past and decipher how I have developed. This has truly allowed me to put things in perspective and intrinsically see if this was the path I truly wish to tread. In reflecting on my past, I have been able to identify the factors that have combined to shape my identity and that have influenced my self-development. The teacher must have a positive attitude towards self-understanding. It is very important for a teacher to know his/her identity since knowing one’s identity will allow them to be a more effective teacher or even simply just interacting with students. When a teacher knows his/her identity, they are fully aware of the factors that have contributed to the individual that they are in all aspects and it helps them to be real with students. Knowing oneself before we can know about others is a major key feature of the teacher’s ability to function as an effective classroom manager. Ryan, Cooper 2001 states that classroom management is a process – a set of activities – by which the teacher establishes and maintains classroom conditions that facilitate effective and efficient instruction. Inappropriate person responses can then be avoided giving greater opportunity for the turning of the classroom climate into a positive and supportive one. The teacher must understand that identity is multi-dimensional and includes physical and sexual identity, occupations goals, religious beliefs and ethnic background; this is paramount to fully understanding the extent to which teachers’ roles and responsibilities extends. Having examined my past experiences and how they have converge to make me into the individual that I am, I am now more equipped with some of the necessary skills and knowledge ability that will in any event enhance my complete person. I am now able to evaluate my sense of identity and compare it with that of the professional identity of the teacher. I am now able to demonstrate professional finesse by displaying appropriate attitude, behaviour and disposition befitting the teaching profession. It is quite evident that a teacher has many roles and responsibilities; some we accept wholeheartedly and some we wish we did not have to. As people grow old, new life is created and therefore demands the requisites of a teacher in various aspects. Whether we realize it or not, people teach and do not even know that they are in fact doing so. Individuals, who have the passion and want to develop professionally, will take the second step in acquiring the necessary training and qualifications that are important characteristics of the profession. In my quest to become a teacher, I recognize that to be effective in this field, it will take selfless, humble and caring characteristics. Students tend to learn more from a teacher than just the spoken word or the taught lesson. With this in mind, I am constantly aware that much is expected from the teacher – in the mode of dress, how kind our use of language is, our commitment and competence displayed, our respectfulness and disciplinarian attributes – these qualities are constantly being observed by students, parents and the wider society. I recognize that the ‘teacher’ is held in high esteem and it is a privilege to be able to educate another human being. Often we as teachers take for granted the roles and responsibilities that we must live in accordance with. Once the decision has been made to become a teacher, behaviours and mannerisms ought to follow ethical principles and guidelines found in the JTA Code of Ethics. I was also exposed to the issue of diversity as it relates to the classroom and the society at large. Diversity speaks to the differences among students in every aspect. Beliefs about issues of diversity impacts behaviour in the classroom and as such the teacher must examine effective strategies for managing classroom diversity. As a prospective teacher, I realize that children come to school from various backgrounds and I will be required to take on varying personalities to effectively control such diversity. I understand that appropriate action or inaction depends greatly upon the teacher’s ability in person perception and judgmental processes. Research by Guilford (1959) showed that the good self judge is highly intelligent, emotionally adjusted and quite sociable. He or she also has a great sense of humor. I now understand that a teacher must display positive attitudes towards diversity within the classroom. As effective teachers, we must be able to identify that students have many strengths and abilities that extends beyond the traditional emphasis in schools on linguistic and cognitive abilities. As such, teachers must have an approach that recognizes multiple views of intelligence and differing learning styles. To be an effective teacher, I will be required to be able to identify when a child requires assistance outside of the classroom. I believe that my intuition will help me to identify unbecoming characteristics in children and my desire to help will propel me to make the necessary efforts required to assist such a child in any way I can. The ways teachers can lead are as varied as teachers themselves. The variety of roles ensures that teachers can find ways to lead that fit their talents and interests and that positive student-teacher interaction takes place. Children are sensitive observers of adult behaviour, and they often see, and become preoccupied with, aspects of the teacher’s attitude toward them of which the teacher may be unaware. Regardless of the roles they assume, teacher leaders shape the culture of their schools, improve student learning, and influence practice among their peers. Teacher leaders assume a wide range of roles to support school and student success. Whether these roles are assigned formally or shared informally, they build the entire school's capacity to improve. Teachers can also help to foster great relationships by paying keen attention to theories of intellects that have gone before us. While I believe that theories that I have studied in this course has aided in the enhancement of the individual that I am today and will be in the future, I also believe that they are not necessarily entirely true. Carl Rogers in his Psychosocial Theory, states that for a human to effectively grow, they need an environment that provides them with genuineness, acceptance and empathy. He believed that without these factors present, relationships and healthy personalities will not develop as they should. I strongly believe that regardless of how individuals are raised or nurtured, there comes a turning point in each life where good and evil is presented and the ultimate decision lies with the individual. These questions will arise, “Where do I go from here?” “Do I accept defeat and select an evil path in life or do I purpose in my heart to make a difference and choose the correct path that deep down I know I should?” After evaluating this stance, then I believe that the individual will now strategize how they will achieve what their cognitive capacity has conjured. Like Rogers, I believe in self-actualization - the ultimate point of satisfaction in a person’s life and that any given individual can achieve his/her life goals. He believed that feelings of self worth are developed in early childhood and that we need to be regarded positively by others. We need to feel valued, respected, treated with affection and loved. However, even if all falls through the cracks at one point or another in our lives, we still can rely of self-resilience and determination to get off the path of disappointments and failures. I believe that we as teachers can adapt the attitude of Dr. Davidson Daway who, despite all the obstacles in his life, was able to achieve his goals and aspirations through resilience and determination and is now in a position to help less fortunate children to do the same. I was a child that never had the delicacies of a loving home and family and even though there were difficult times in my life, I have found that those negative experiences have converged to create the person I am. I must admit that my personality had been shaped in a negative light but I mentally work and is still working overtime to somewhat overshadow the negative memories and emotions that tend to eat at my core. Through my experiences, I am now more than ever determined to allow children to feel a sense of belonging. This prospect in life should essentially be the responsibility of the family; however, the teacher has to also assume this responsibility because one of the sub-roles of a teacher is that of a parent away from home. I was also influenced by Erickson’s Psychosocial Development Theory. This theory is a dichotomy that identifies different stages of a human’s life and the development that is likely to take place at a given age. Based on how the guardian/parent relates to the child, there will be either one of two outcomes. Erickson states that if parent/guardian responses are encouraging and supportive, the child will develop an ability to be a self starter or to initiate their own activities. I have realized that the third challenge of his theory have helped me identify certain issues that I encounter with my daughter who is five years of age. I now realize that at this stage a sense of responsibility develops and I must be careful and supportive in her sense of purpose and not to over control her initiatives. By implementing this theory in my life, I better understand how to deal with her and there have been favourable results. She is polite and a wonderful communicator; she expresses herself clearly and behaves responsibly. I believe this is quite impressive for a five year old. A motto of mine is if I can make at least one individual genuinely smile each day, I would have accomplished a lot. I believe that I can make a huge difference in the life of children if given the opportunity. With the training that I am afforded at the Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College, I can only be shaped into a more rounded future educator. Teachers share a significant responsibility in preparing young people to lead successful and productive lives. I truly appreciate all that I have learnt in this course and the fact that it has shaped me into a better individual – one who is firm on her stance to ‘never limit her challenges but always challenge her limits.’
“MINISTRY ROLLS OUT NATIONAL MATHEMATICS POLICY”
This article is focusing on implementing a National Mathematics Policy to improve how Mathematics is taught in our Jamaican schools in the hope that it would improve the performances of students at both the primary and the secondary levels in the country. The contemporary issue that is highlighted is that of Mathematics being taught poorly at primary and secondary levels. Dr Tamika Benjamin, National Mathematics Coordinator in the Ministry of Education states that teachers have not been planning lessons so that when it is taught it is fully understood; nor are they assessing students continuously to be able to determine if they have fully grasped a particular concept in order to move on to the next. Dr. Benjamin also states that another issue is that of contact hours dedicated to the teaching of Mathematics. She stated that this matter is more of an issue at the secondary level than at the primary level. I absolutely agree with the author’s viewpoint. In order to teach mathematics effectively, adequate amount of teaching sessions needs to be implemented in schools in order for the content matter to effectively be covered and understood by students. The author also stated that the new policy will address the qualification criteria for Mathematics teachers. It states that teachers teaching at various levels in the secondary school systems will require the matching qualification. I truly believe this should be enforced. Upon reviewing teachers’ qualifications, it is being realized that some of the teachers present in the school system have never passed Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) Mathematics. If there is little or no foundation in the teachers of the subject, then the outcome will assuredly be mirrored therein. It has been discovered that in the late 80s into the 1990s, Mathematics as a prerequisite to attending Teachers’ College was waived and because of this, the education system is now experiencing the impact of that decision. I am in total agreement that any individual who desires to become a teacher must have a passing grade in CSEC Mathematics in order to be admitted at Teacher-training institutions. The decision has also been proposed to have any prospective primary or early childhood student-teachers be observed by a specialist during their teaching practice. I strongly believe that this will aid in the total development of such a teacher, hence reflecting in the classroom if and when they have a class to manage. The article also stated that there are teachers teaching the subject with absolutely no qualifications whatsoever. And this has proven to be very detrimental as is seen in the results of inter-school and official examinations. (Ryan, Cooper 2001) states that a teacher should have an intimate knowledge of the subject matter being taught, both the instructional content and the discipline from which it derives. I believe that teachers who do not have adequate knowledge of the subject area can be seen as incompetent and the results will speak volumes. The program highlighted in this article spoke to the manner in which the Ministry of Education proposes to correct the issue. The writer states that under the policy, Mathematical specialists will be deployed to schools that have identified with the issue to support these teachers in developing the competence, knowledge and skills and to utilize methods of teaching which are promoted in the National Comprehensive Numeracy Programme. All the strategies highlighted in the paragraphs preceding this are indeed effective ways to correct the issue at hand. However, when an issue is identified, the most effective way to correct it is to eliminate it altogether. If the issue is teachers not being able to teach a particular subject, it is wise to make the corrections to the teacher-training institutions that provides the necessary qualifications needed, in order for teachers to be effectively trained and equipped with the relevant content information that they will in turn pass on to students.
“THE EDUCATING DUO”
The focus of this article is to highlight the satisfaction of teaching and also the various problems that schools face on a daily basis that at times prevent them from performing at their maximum potential. The article is about a couple who have had successful teaching careers and can now reflect and identify issues that are present in schools and possible measures that can be implemented to curtail these issues. The couple identified the issue of the playing field not being level in terms of the students that are streamlined into traditional versus non-traditional high school in the country. According to the educators in the article, it has been realized that students who are streamlined into non-traditional high schools tend to have lower passes in the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) and because of this the teachers at these schools now must work twice as hard to get their students to the acceptable level. Netta Nevers, former Vice Principal at Aabuthnott Gallimore High School believes that there is lack of equity in the Education System and this is one of the reasons non-traditional schools are portrayed as performing poorly in English and Mathematics. The educator notes that students that live in a community where there is a non-traditional high school are sent many miles to access other traditional high schools. She stated that the non-traditional high schools are often overcrowded, a problem which is linked to the GSAT and Grade Nine Achievement Test. Another concern was that of indiscipline in the classroom which in their eyes has significantly deteriorated. They believe that this relies heavily on technology and poor parenting skills. Students are able to access just about any content material on the internet unsupervised. While the use of technology has tremendously enhanced the growth of education in the Jamaican society, it also poses some negative impacts in terms of preserving the minds of our youths. They stated that parents nowadays are much younger and disconnected with their children and more often than not the father figure is not present – resulting in negative impacts on the overall development of the child. They also mentioned that while it is becoming increasingly difficult economically for parents, in the event that they must be away from their children, more must be done to supervise these children in their absence. For the most part I do agree with the suggestions that the couple has made. I have realized that in the Jamaican society, non-traditional high schools have been stereotyped in light of non-performance. However, I do not believe that this is because of equity as the couple stated. Equity deals with fairness and impartiality according to the Oxford English Mini-dictionary. It is a known fact that when a child reaches the age requirement to sit GSAT, they are given the opportunity to select the school that they would like to attend providing that the scores on their exams are on par with the requirement for such a school. It is the GSAT results that will then determine the high school that the child will attend. The only way in which there can be a difference is if the Ministry of Education implements a policy that stipulates the schools that the child has as an option to select and this list must include a non-traditional high school if there is one that is the parish. Even so, I believe the stigma that is attached to non-traditional high schools will need to be removed for parents and students to accept that performances at these schools can be the same as at any traditional high school since the school curriculum is the same through the education system. As it relates to overcrowding at these institutions, the Ministry of Education must be informed of the fact that this issue is present so that the necessary corrective measures can be implemented to address this. I also agree that mal-parenting is a major issue where students’ holistic development is concerned. The issue of early parenting will continue plaguing our society and the likelihood of these young parents being victims of poverty is almost clockwork. Children are having children and it is a depressing cycle; teachers will have to take on the role of parenting in the classroom as well when the need arises. The teacher will now be required to balance time wisely in ensuring that the curriculum is followed and the child’s needs are met. Moreover, she might need to refer such a child to the Guidance Counselor if there is one present at the school. The Guidance Counselor will then through communication with the child and possibly the parent(s), determine the level of assistance required and create ways in which the child can be further helped. I do believe that these issues outlined in this article affect any society. As teachers, we must recognize the roles and responsibilities that have been bestowed upon us and act in accordance. Eradicating the ravages of poverty and its withering effect on children should be at the top of our agenda as effective teachers of this nation. We need to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to eliminate some of these unbecoming practices that are prevalent in today’s society. In the event that I have children under my care that is experiencing hardships in any form, I would definitely show that I support and care for them in any tangible or intangible way I can. This can provide them with hope and can also be crucial in improving their chances for success. I would treat each child equally and encourage practices such as these throughout my school.
Guildford, J.P., (1959) Personality. New York: McGraw Hill
Interview with Dr. Davidson Daway with Etana
Against All Odds Aired on CVM on September 16, 2012
Brown, Ingrid., (2013, October 2) Ministry Rolls out National Mathematics Policy. The Jamaica Observer
Dixon, Renae., (2013, November 25) The Educating Duo. The Jamaica Observer Ryan, K., Cooper, J.M., (2001) Those Who Can, Teach. Ninth Edition. Houghton Mifflin
Company. Boston/New York USA
The Oxford Mini-dictionary, (1999). Oxford University Press Publishers