Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Enquiring Practitioner

CaptureA Practitioner Enquiry can be described as “an investigation with a rationale or approach which can be explained or defended” (Menter et al 2011)

To me, an enquiring practitioner is someone who deliberately goes out of their way become more knowledgeable, whether that be for a project or about the their profession in general. It is now viewed that teaching should be a learning experience for the teacher as well as the children, and I strongly believe that teachers who make the effort to continue to teach themselves, make the best teachers and role models for children.

Benefits of being an enquiring practitioner are that they can investigate new strategies, which leads to a positive impact on the children in their class, and to the school as a whole, as staff can collaborate on these strategies, highlighting the importance of cooperation and team work across the school. This leads teachers to feel empowered and in total control over what they are teaching.

However, this may lead some teachers to feeling uncomfortable, especially traditional teachers who are used to an approach involving less self enquiry.

In spite of this, I believe that, both student teachers and fully registered teachers, should enagage with the idea of an enquiring practitioner as it ultimately provides a better education for the children we are teaching, which is really the main objective of any teacher. – cited 29/10/15

Timeline of Neuroscience

1905 – Alfred Binet

1909 – Harvey Cushing is first to electrically stimulate human sensory cortex.

1912 – IQ developed by William Stern

1920 – Watson and Rayner – Little Albert experiment about classical conditioning

1932 – Adrian and Sherrington share Nobel Prize for their work on the function of neurons

1936 – Egas Moniz publishes work on the first human frontal lobotomy

1938 – Skinner describes operant conditioning in “The Behaviour of Organisms”

1948 – The World Health Organization is founded (WHO)

1953 – Milner discusses patient HM – loss of hippocampal surgery

1969 – Society for Neuroscience formed

1981 – Roger Walcott Sperry awarded Nobel Prize for his work on the functions of the brain hemispheres

2013 – Barack Obama announces Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN)

Professionalism as a Teacher

Clip 1 – I agree with the fact that teaching is a caring profession, and I certainly know that for me it was a calling, however, I know that this is not the case for everyone. I personally know people who have only recently decided that the teaching profession is for them, and I do not think it is fair that they be any less of a teacher because of this.

I also wholeheartedly agree with the idea that teachers are in some part similar to doctors, in that they are improving people’s lives – just as doctors can save lives, so too can teachers, albeit not medically. Teachers develop children, not just academically but socially and I believe complete the child, nourishing their talents and capabilities to a point where the child becomes a confident, independent adolescent.

When watching the interviews with the South African teachers, I found myself agreeing with everything that was said. A teacher, or indeed a professional one, must be dedicated, willing to cooperate with other staff and willing to go that extra mile in order to give these children the best education, and the best attitude towards school. The most important message from that clip in my opinion is the male teacher who simply said “Love your work.” For me, that is crucial in being a well-rounded, professional teacher. A teacher who does not enjoy going to work, and who is not totally committed to their class should not be a teacher. This affects the education of the pupils, and can lead them to see school negatively, potentially causing more serious problems later in time.

Clip 2 – The point to be stressed about this clip is that teachers are role models for the children in the school. They are someone to be admired, which refers back to my earlier point about how your motivation can affect the children. If they cannot idolize their teacher because they are negative in class, or do not appear to be fully engaged, they will seek other role models, potentially effecting their view of education totally.

Clip 3 – While I agree with both people in this clip, I think Chris is closer to my definition of professionalism. This clip raises the question to me about the difference between a worker and a professional. Can you be a professional without being a worker, just as you can be a worker without being a professional? Is a worker simply someone who arrives at work? I believe a successful professional to be someone who fully engages with their work, and has a passion for what they do, rather than someone who simply “clocks in and out” as there is no element of care for the job included in that statement.

The Construction of a Professional

In order to be a professional, I believe that you must be well rounded as an individual, which involves possessing all of the mentioned qualities. As well as a sense of motivation and determination, the idea of honesty to oneself is particularly important. Without being honest to yourself, you will not accept your flaws, and therefore cannot improve, meaning that you are not the best professional that you can be.

Patience – As a teacher, you must be patient with your class. If they are not physically or mentally coping with the lesson content, then there is no point in telling them off, the plan simply needs amended. A lack of patience makes a bad teacher in my opinion, as the work will consistently be at the wrong level or the pupils will not fully engage with the class because the teacher is always “grumpy” and shouting.

Fairness – A teacher must also be fair. There should be no favoritism within a class, although often there is. All pupils should be treated equally, and the work they are given should be fair in terms of the level they are able to work at.

Empathy – I believe the teacher should not be stranger, and times have changed from the days where the teacher was the person standing at the board with a ruler ready to smack anyone daring to go out of line. I believe a modern, professional teacher should empathize with their children and, while not getting too emotionally attached, should wholeheartedly care for the emotional well-being of the children, as well as their academic well-being.

Respect – “Respect is earned not given” is a statement I have been brought up to believe in, and still do to this day. If a teacher is actively respectful of those around them, be they staff, pupil or parent, I think children are more likely to be respectful themselves towards others (with an element of parental influence as well).

Self Control – How you present yourself as a professional is extremely important. For example, if a doctor speaking to you before an operation walked in wearing jeans and a T shirt, confidence levels of their capability will drop, regardless of what they say to you. This is also true for a teacher. If a teacher has no self control in their presentation or performance, parents and other staff will make assumptions about that teacher. That is why professional appearance is so important in my opinion.


Mirror Mirror on the Wall…

Reflectionmirror as a noun occurs in everyday life, however, it is seen less often as a verb.

Reflecting upon work you have done is important in being able to progress and improve. This is especially prevalent in the teaching profession, as reflection on a day’s lessons can help improve the lessons for the next day, and in turn improve the overall education of your pupils. In terms of academic writing, reflecting on an experience can often form the basis of a piece, however, reflecting on these pieces individually will also help to improve overall writing ability.

Reflecting is not simply pointing out what you did wrong. Reflection is about finding weak areas, realizing how to improve them, and making a conscious, motivated decision to make them better. It is not enough to know you are not good enough, you need to know how to change for the better and actually implement these changes.

Personally, I believe that I struggle with reflection. While I can identify where I feel I may have gone wrong, I struggle to improve this, even with great effort sometimes. I have seen this in my past experiences of academic writing at high school, where I saw myself as a writer who focused more on delivering the facts or theories than one who had an opinion about them. I rarely challenged what I saw, however, I know that I need to improve this at university level, and will hopefully improve this during my time at university.

My Academic Skills

Having already completed Higher English 2 years ago, and achieving an A grade first time, I was fairly confident in my grammar and punctuation abilities. However, upon reading the Study Skills book (McMillan and Weyers 2012) I realized that there were some points which I was not sure of, or could not adequately explain.

Grammar in the English language is known for being confusing, and as we grow up learning it, the technicalities of grammar are often overlooked. The Study Skills book gives a fairly detailed explanation of grammar and what constitutes a sentence for example. This was a useful reminder and I will be looking back on this section when proof reading my upcoming assignments.

Punctuation is another sticking point for many people while writing. I can remember an English teacher while I was in high school who drilled punctuation into us, and as a result, most of this chapter reminded me of her.

Personally, I feel that my weakest area in terms of academic writing ability is critical writing. When writing my Advanced Higher dissertation last year, I was told that my critical writing was what let me down. I hope that this skill will improve as I progress through university, and reading this book has been very useful in beginning this process.

Plato’s Theory of Forms

Plato believed that there are 2 worlds: Our World (Material World) and the Real World. Our world is constantly changing and we rely on our senses to understand what is going on. Whereas the real world is eternal and unchanging and based on ideas and not senses. It includes perfect forms of objects we know on Earth i.e. chairs, tables and apples.

Apples  Apples

There are many types of apples and they exist in different forms and are all in different forms of growth and decay. However, Plato would consider the defining factors of an apple, and what makes it different from a pear, for example. These factors Plato called the “apple-ness” of an apple, or the true form. The form is unchanging, even though the apples themselves have changing appearances. This is because the apples we know are imitations of the true form, therefore are imperfect and subject to change – hence there is no such thing as a perfect apple in the Material World.

The Soul

Plato believed that the soul was eternal and does not change. This is because he thought that it belonged in the Real World before being assigned to a body, and this is how we can recognize forms and know what objects are in our world.

Plato stated that only philosophers could see into the World of the Forms as they would think independent of their senses. This lead on to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, as he concluded that people needed to “break out” of the constraints set by the material world to find the real world of the forms



Professionalism Online

What challenges/opportunities you may be faced with when marrying the personal vs the professional presence on social media?

Having a profile that is a mix of personal and professional life is dangerous, however, I believe it can have great benefits. If you have a shared account, it can allow colleagues (or pupils in an older situation i.e. university) to see another side to you that may not have been shown in your professional self. It allows them to have a rapport with you as they know other things about your personality which may not be conveyed in other professional situations. Common interests can arise and often make partnership working and collaborative projects easier.

However, there is a flip side to these potential advantages. If you have a lifestyle where you are having nights out that you wouldn’t want employers to see, then this mixture of profiles can prove to be costly in terms of your professionalism and potentially your career. A lively night of drinking can lead to consequences of its own, however, this also gives your employer or future employers an indication of your commitment to work and your professional ethics. This can be true of many careers, but particularly in the teaching profession, I believe that you must have a certain degree of maturity to accept that you may have to conduct yourself responsibly in and out of the classroom.

I’m not saying that by having a shared personal and professional profile you cannot have a social life, but I strongly believe that if you are taking this route you must have serious considerations about what you do outwith work.

How are the challenges/opportunities afforded by social media framed? How will you frame things – positive or deficit viewpoint?

The media play a large part in how social media is perceived and how it affects the role of teachers and other professionals. It won’t take long to look through a newspaper, or watch the news to find many examples of hyperbole which are simply not necessary. The recent example of a Dundee teacher who clicked on the wrong video made the front pages, when it was a simple mistake on their part and was corrected in under 10 seconds. It is these examples which will make teachers wary of using technology in classrooms, and will affect the education of the next generation – the children who are living in a technological world and many of whom will be working in this world in the future. Studies have shown that the need for software developers in particular will increase by around 30% in upcoming years.

While I look on technology in the classroom in a positive manner, and believe that it is essential to develop skills which may have already been introduced at home, I also believe that there are some negative points to consider. For example, not all households will have a computer. While the vast majority do, it may isolate children if there are internet related homework tasks which they cannot complete. However, the teacher can easily gauge this by asking the children, or parents and can change lessons and homework to suit their class. While classroom interaction should not be taken away from the school system – as it develops their social skills and abilities to make friends which may stay with them through life – there is certainly a growing place for computers and other technology in the classroom. The days of 1 computer per classroom will soon be coming to an end.