Developing Professional Skills and Abilities: Online Unit 3

Words/phrases relating to professionalism:

  • Competent
  • Knowledgeable
  • Calm
  • Skilled
  • Respectable
  • Punctual
  • Motivating
  • Encouraging
  • Enthusiastic
  • Constructive criticism
  • Passionate
  • Collaborative working
  • Going above and beyond

professionalismI chose to watch One Born Every Minute and believe that the midwives displayed all the characteristics I associate with a professional. I believe that the midwives displayed a great deal of commitment and dedication which was seen when encouraging the ladies through their labour regardless of their situation. There were no situations within the programme that I thought the midwives acted unprofessionally, they done everything in their power to ensure the best start to life for every individual child.

midwivesThis level of professionalism offered by the midwives made a lasting impression on all the families, I believe. For years to come the mothers especially will remember how motivating and encouraging the midwives were and without their help it would have been a very difficult situation.

I believe that it is important for the midwives to wear the uniform that they do as they all look the same and can easily be recognised. By wearing the uniform also the midwives also have a sense of authority.  Also, the colour blue, that the midwives wear, is known to be calming which I think is important for the mothers to be in their situations.

If designing the midwifery degree I would arrange the following;

    1. Attending lectures – 10%
    2. Background reading about relevant subjects – 10%
    3. Practical skills based training such as role play- 30%
    4. Work based learning- 20%
    5. Other (Placement0 – 30%
    6. What have you learned from the programme that you can apply to your own professional development?

dynamicFrom watching One Born Every Minute I have learnt that within the professions of teaching and midwifery that no two day are the same. Our professions are dynamic and we must have the level of enthusiasm and commitment to the profession to be able to adapt to all the different situations we will find ourselves in.

 

aaaaaaFrom looking back at my UCAS Personal Statement my opinion on the personal values that we as student teachers must posses has not changed. I believe that it is fundamental for teachers to display professional values as we are the role models that children will observe and mimic. I believe that it is important to have the personal value of considering everyone as an individual and that everyone’s situations are different. I also believe that it is important to sympathise with children by showing a great deal of empathy and not to judge the children within our care. I chose teaching as throughout school I noticed the lack of passion displayed by the teachers, and wanted to change this for the better. Teaching to me is one of the most challenging, dynamic, yet rewarding professions. I am eager to get into the classroom and observing children flourish as individuals of the future.

To me, to commit to this course a professional commitment must be made. To support myself on the course, I have decided that I will spend more time in the library and make use of the resources available to me. I have also committed myself to engage in all the relevant reading to continue my self development.

Born but not wanted…

From various inputs I’ve realised that the topic of the ‘Romanian Orphans’ was brought to our attention several times. I decided to have a look into the topic as I’d never heard of before and reflect on what I found out. 

aThe term ‘Romanian Orphans’ raised due to Nicolae Ceaușescu forbidding both abortion and contraception all increasing birth rates. Many children along with people who were mentally ill or disabled were dumped in orphanages. These vulnerable groups of people were subject to abuse and neglect including; physical abuse, sexual abuse and controlling their behaviour through the use of drugs. 

The orphanages also lacked washing facilities and medicine. The conditions of the orphanages declined again in 1982 when Ceaușescu decided to use all of Romania’s economic wealth to pay off foreign debt. However, many of the children within the orphanages were recollected by parents at the ages of 12,13,14 – when they were old enough to help their family earn a living. 

aaWithin the orphanages, there were often 10 people crammed into a room with 2 sharing a mattress, which were often rotten, lying in their own waste. Many children looked much younger than they were due to malnutrition and suspected, undiagnosed condition.

In the adult rooms there could be up to 160 adults found up to the age of 80.  Those that were disabled were often found in isolated parts of the orphanages with no protection against the cold as their clothes were often thin with several holes. Many of the orphans never experienced the basic human right of sanitation and many of the investigators reported a stench of rotting flesh and gangrene.

aaaOver the years, many orphans lived for very few months, years in these conditions contributing to the exceedingly high death rates. Those who did eventually escape the orphanages had to learn to deal with the altered brain structure, brain damage and disabilities they had developed through living in such poor conditions. 

Little Minds

We know that everything we learn contributes to our memory. However what many are unaware of is the different types of memory. For example, there are many types of long term memory including;

  • Episodic – specific things – personal experience- where/when it happened
  • Semantic – all world knowledge
  • Procedural – knowing how to do something – riding a bike/driving a car
  • Mix of all these e.g- a trip to the market

brainAlso, automaticity is a very important aspect in increasing efficiency of processing information. Automaticity is achieved through practice and reduces the ST memory capacity. A classroom example includes, reading – children will often not be able to tell you what they’re reading (without automaticity).

Other factors that influence the development of knowledge include;

  1. Knowledge – increases as a function of age
  2. Strategies – rehearsal – repetition in various forms, organisation allows information to be stored more easily, elaboration – making links to aid memory

There are many different aspects to our minds and especially the way in which we memorise things.

Metamemory development refers to the monitoring, regulations and  awareness of the memory’s contents. There are two parts – Awareness of how memory works (what’s easier/harder to recall) and memory monitoring (what strategies to use).

Metacognition – refers to the knowledge and understanding of our own thinking process. It is the knowledge of what one knows and how one learns. As children grow up they become more aware of their own abilities and are better able to assess when a strategy will be effective.

False memory – Refers to they way children, usually young, reconstruct a memory falsely due to not tracking information as they encode it.

phineasPhineas Gage became a key interest of psychologists’ work after his personality changed after his brain’s left frontal lobe was mainly destroyed after and accident at work in which a large iron rod pierced completely through his head.

This started a worldwide focus into the theory of mind. The theory of mind refers to the ability to take perspectives of others and understand their mental state i.e – beliefs and desires.

The theory of mind develops across the world at roughly the same age regardless of cultural influences. However, children below 4 years old are unable to reflect on the mental state of themselves and others and their beliefs – This can be seen in the Deceptive box test. The development of the theory of mind can provide children with new realm of information on which they can draw from.
thinkingIt has been discovered that children develop this theory between the ages of 3&5 then at the ages of between 6 and 8 children develop the send stage in which the theory of mind allows other skills to develop including the understanding of jokes, sarcasm or bullying.

At what age a child develops this theory of mind depends on various environmental factors including;

  • The number of older siblings
  • The likelihood children are exposed to adult and peer interactions and communication on a daily basis.
  • Extended family

autismThe failure to develop the theory of mind has been linked with the autistic spectrum disorder. The lack of theory of mind produces many impairments affecting many aspects of a child’s life including; social relationships, communications and a lack of imagination. However, autism is not a product of the failure to understand the mind.

 

What are they thinking?

Everything that we do comes down to our brain and the way we think. It has been at the heart of psychologist’s fascinations for years.

ivanIvan Pavlov was the first psychologist to focus upon behaviourism through his ‘Classic Conditioning Test’ His conclusions were that we can change the natural reflex of human and animals. Furthering Pavlov’s findings, B.F.Skinner concluded that all behaviours are learnt through experiences, operant conditioning, through his experiments in the Skinner Box.

Behaviourism can be monitored through the use of reinforcement, especially in the classroom. We, as teachers can use a number of techniques to increase behaviour for example;

  1. Presenting a positive stimulus (positive reinforcement) e.g- hugs,praise, rewards of some kind from homework
  2. The removal of an aversive stimulus (negative reinforcement) e.g- buying a toddler a treat in the supermarket to stop their whining

Furthermore, there can also be techniques used to decrease behaviour which can be used as part of behaviour management in a classroom. Including;

  • An aversive stimulus is presented (Positive punishment) e.g – getting burned from touching a hot iron
  • Isolation fro a reinforcer (Time – out) e.g- asking a child to stand outside the classroom to cool down
  • The removal of a valued item (Response cost) e.g- TV/gaming/ ‘grounding’

behaviourHowever, there are many implications of these behavioural techniques. For example, If a child is isolated and sent out with the class, this can make the child feel like a ‘big man’ and they can repeat the actions for attention. These behaviour strategies also only dal with the behaviours and not the cores (doesn’t take into account of cognition)- why is it happening? is there any issues as to why the child is acting out? and also some children may start to manipulate the system and only behave until they receive a reward then act out.

However, Albert Bandura developed the Socio – Cognitive Theory and suggested that we learn from: environmental factors such as role models, instruction and feedback and also personal factors such as goals, sense of efficiency, attributes and process of self regulation.

jean piagetIn the 20th century, there was a very teacher led approach to education and children were seen as passive learners. Jean Piaget was a Swiss biologist who believed that children are not in fact mini adults but instead pass through 4 stages of development;

 

  1. Sensorimotor (0-2 years) – interaction with environment
  2. Pre-opertional ( 2-7 years) – representation of world symbolically
  3. Concrete Operational (7-12 years) – learning of rules – observation
  4. Formal Operational (12+ years) – focussing on the future – adolescent

Piaget also rejected any sense of authority and believed children develop more through peer interact. Of course, this proposed many implications within the classroom including; we must only teach children what they are ready to learn and treat every child individually and differently.

lev vygotskyWithin the 20th century, Lev Vygotsky also undertook experiments into the way a child mentally develops through thinking. Like Piaget, Vygotsky concluded that children acquire the tools of learning through social interactions. It is these interactions which build an ‘inner speech’ which then becomes thinking.

Neo-Piagetians explain Piaget’s stage theory in terms of information processing – so capacity and efficiency of processing. They have concluded that adults do have more capacity and efficiency and all that you sense you won’t necessarily perceive.

 

The importance of being an enquiring practitioner…

As we learnt today, in Nikki’s input, being an enquiring practitioner is highly regarded within the teaching profession. This is something that I think we should acknowledge as new student teachers. 

On the GTCS website it states that “Practitioner enquiry is an area of professional learning which was highlighted in Teaching Scotland’s Future (Donaldson, 2011) as a way forward to support teachers to become more engaged with research to support their own learning and ultimately pupil experiences.” 

To enquire means to ask for information from someone, to investigate and look into a situation further. So, to be an enquiring practitioner, we must investigate. Whilst investigating, we must be able to explain or defend our actions by using a rationale approach. Practitioner enquiry is usually undertake within a practitioner’s own practice however, can be completed in collaboration with others. For practitioner enquiry it is fundamental that it is based on evaluative and reflective teaching. Also, for effective enquiry undertaken by practitioners in the future; it should become and integral aspect of the day to day practice.  This I believe interlinks with ‘The Standards 1.4.2 – “I am committed to lifelong enquiry, learning, professional development and leadership as core aspects of professionalism and collaborative practice.”

Like most concepts of education, practitioner enquiry brings both benefits and challenges to the table. Advantages include;

  • Through using practitioner enquiry, teachers can become empowered and encouraged to transform and challenge education.
  • It provides a resource that teachers can use to monitor and develop their own practice.
  • It allows teachers to explore and investigate strategies and initiatives they can adapt in their classroom.
  • It can increase their knowledge of teaching and learning. This helps to build their self esteem as a professional and can aid them in making a professional&autonomous judgements which goes onto enhance their professional identity and self esteem further. 

However, engaging in practitioner enquiry can also rise challenges for teachers;

  • Before engaging with practitioner enquiry, a teacher must consider that it can be somewhat overwhelming and needs to be carefully managed. With the model, it is very easy to take on too much.
  • Practitioner enquiry can also be a disengaging and a disempowering process if there is no planning, understanding, management or support offered at all levels. Also, if it is imposed it can lead to the disenfranchisement of those involved.
  • It can also be a very slow process, there is not always a specific end point or direction for teachers carrying out practitioner enquiry.
  • To transform professional learning there must be radical and rigorous change. This is difficult and individuals and schools need to be open to and ready for potential changes.

Therefore, I believe that we, as teachers, must be adaptive and open to change. We must also engage critically with our practice and always be questionable, never accept. 

We must adopt a professional, critical and questionable approach to learning.

We, as student teachers, should grasp education with both hands and transform it for our students by following the ‘Model of career log professional learning’.

The GTCS website was used in support of this TDT.

Attachments

From the minute we begin to develop within the womb, we form attachments. Therefore, to me, this is a vital aspect of our learning. It has since been found that for a sound upbringing a child needs to have some sort of attachment so surely this is a great aspect in a child’s holistic development?

aSimilar and related factors to attachment are placed highly in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which indicates their importance in a child’s upbringing.

We have studied the Attachment Theory which conveyed that normally a child develops a clear attachment to their mother (who is also the primary caregiver). Long ago, people believed that this was due to the mother providing food. However, there is growing evidence that contact and comfort have a greater importance… demonstrated through ‘Harlow’s Monkeys 1980’.

aJohn Bowlby discovered that children have the innate ability to form attachments and it was the evolutionary attachment that promoted survival, care and nurture. Bowlby was influenced by Konrad Lorenz who carried out numerous studies on attachment. One of his studies, ’44 Thieves’ concluded that 70% of the thieves had experienced some level of maternal deprivation therefore had the inability to experience guilt through theft.

However, like many I disagree with some of Bowlby’s statements regarding attachments in children. For example, Bowlby concluded that a consequence of maternal deprivation is the development of delinquent personality. I disregard this statement as I have since found otherwise through numerous case studies, including the ‘Lost Boys of Sudan’.

‘The Lost Boys of Sudan’ was a study concluded on a group of children that were separated from their parents through the Civil War in Sudan. The study focussed on their coping mechanisms to their ambiguous loss, as many did not know the fate of their parents/siblings. One of the coping mechanisms adopted by the children was distraction. This included doing homework which resulted in many taking an interest in education and strengthening themselves as a result. Completely contradicting Bowlby’s statement.

Mary Ainsworth developed the theory of attachment further through her Strange Situation Test. This was a test in which a baby and mother entered the room full of toys and played, a stranger then entered the room and the mother left whilst the babies reaction was recorded. This was to record the strength of attachment within babies. The results were that 50-70% were securely attached to their mothers again portraying that attachments form in the very beginning of a baby’s development.

Within the test 15-20% displayed insecure attachment. Being insecurely attached brings many consequences both short or long term;

Short term – Children are less likely to interact with others, less likely to show an interest in what is going on, less likely to be seen developing and are less likely to settle into early years education

Long term – has an impact on social relationships later in life and greater incidences of serious health problems e.g – mental health ill

Ainsworth also found that those who are securely attached have more intimate friendships, higher self esteem and perform better at school. Also, parents who were securely attached are more likely to have securely attached children.

So is there a link between parenting styles and attachments? I believe that there is. There is numerous studies all concluding the same; the more parents play, communicate and interact with their children the more happier, healthier and well developed they will be in the future.

Surely this is something that must be highlighted to all parents.

Our importance in the Physical Child

We have learnt that we, as teachers, mainly focus on cognitive development due to being conscious of role expectations. However, physical and cognitive functioning are closely linked. However, this factor is not always appreciated with young children. We, as teachers, need to consider all aspects of a child’s development as we look at the children in holistic terms: ‘the whole child’

aPhysical development in concerned with a child’s gross and fine motor skills, the way a child exercises their body in their surroundings. Physical development is an important aspect which is studied as growth determines the experiences a child has and also can affect the reactions of others.

Whilst, developing children are compared to ‘the norm’ this is the normal expectations of the child at their particular age. For example, by the age of 4 children should be piecing together sentences and be able to communicate with ease. The role of practitioners is to expose the children to environments which allow them to become aware of their senses and use appropriate language to help them make sense of these experiences.

Through doing this, children will be able to understand the key value, we have as teachers, that every individual is different and have different limits to what they can do, this will build empathy towards others that are not as fortunate as themselves.

aaTo strengthen children’s physical development, we can engage them with activities that will exercise their fine and gross motor skills. For example, running and climbing will build a child’s gross motor skills whilst developing the pincer grip through painting will develop a child’s fine motor skills, all of which will be beneficial as the child progresses into/throughout school.