Required to Enquire

The Standard for Career-Long Professional Learning has what I believe to be a very effective quote in terms of an enquiring practitioner:
“The most successful education systems invest in developing their teachers as reflective, accomplished and enquiring professionals who are able, not simply to teach successfully in relation to current external expectations, but who have the capacity to engage fully with the complexities of education and to be key actors in shaping and leading educational change.” (Teaching Scotland’s Future, Scottish Government, 2011, p4)

So what does this mean?

An enquiring practitioner is someone who not only teaches their class but also continues to teach themselves throughout their career. This involves them looking at their teaching methods and what they are teaching and analysing the effectiveness and any possible areas for developing. This can be done through independent or collaborative enquiry. Each of these methods ensures that they are discovering findings which either support the way they teach or perhaps methods that would conflict their original methods. As a student teacher I believe that collaborative enquiry is hugely beneficial in self-development. Having an ePortfolio that we can share with our peers allows for us to consider other people’s views and question our own. Do I agree? Is this a better way of looking at this? Could I now add to what I have previously written having read this?

There are several benefits that come with this up and coming prospect of being an enquiring practitioner. Children’s learning and development is being significantly improved due to this continuous questioning of teaching methods as they are frequently searching for the most beneficial methods and ideas. Another benefit would be that it brings a collaborative approach to improving the curriculum – teachers can continuously add thoughts and opinions based on what they have found.

I personally believe that the challenges are not so strong however there are some which provoke relevant argument. Being practitioners we have to ensure that we are delivering a child centred learning approach. This involves us looking at each child as an individual and catering for their needs. This would then arise an issue in ‘the enquiring practitioner’ in that what works for some children in a specific school might not have quite the same effect as it would on other children. It also has to be taken in to consideration that not all teachers have gone through their career having to have this ‘enquiring’ mind set and so this new approach will be very challenging to them.

I feel really strongly about becoming an enquiring practitioner and the benefits that come with this. Already while being at university I have engaged widely in reflecting on my newly gained knowledge and enquiring how I can improve my skills. This is something which will be carried through to my last year where I write my dissertation. I feel this skill will then be hugely benefit me when I become a fully registered teacher as I will have gained the experience of ‘enquiring’ my learning and future teaching methods. I will be able to use what I have learned to ensure I become a successful, inspiring and enquiring professional practitioner.


Teaching Scotland’s Future, 2011 [online] available from accessed on 09/11/2015

One (skill) Born Every Minute

Being supportive, organised, calm, committed, competent, kind, dedicated, skilled, diverse, caring, flexible, passionate, understanding, co-operative, knowledgeable, a good-listener and reflective are skills that I have previously identified as being important to sculpting a good, well-rounded professional.

While watching an episode of ‘One Born Every Minute’, it became clear that these skills were indeed required for a profession in midwifery. The skills and attributes were most noticeable when the midwives were communicating with the patients.The experience of giving birth is obviously very daunting for parents – especially the mothers; many parents coming through the door are having their first experience of giving birth. This experience can be very distressing for the patients and this is something which is neither healthy nor comforting while giving birth. This is when the midwives are to be calm and supportive to the patient and when all of the above skills come in to action.

It could be argued that the midwives were being unprofessional while in the staff room – dancing and singing around the room. Would this be a fair comment to make? Personally I would disagree. As one of the ladies said it is a very stressful environment to be working in and being able to let their hair down and have a laugh with fellow staff members gives them the chance to unwind. Having this relationship with your colleagues also ensures that you are building positive relationships with one another which can be extremely beneficial in their working environment.

Dress code is something which is very important while being a midwife. While on duty they have to wear overalls which ensure that they are clean and hygienic and – as far as possible – not carrying any germs into the establishment. It also makes them easily identified by patients and presents them in a professional manner.

If I were to develop a degree for student midwives I would implement the following learning methods:
Lectures – having this as a requirement would ensure that the student midwives were committed to their learning. This would also give them an opportunity to communicate with fellow midwives and allow them to share their ideas. The lectures would be heavily based on what it takes to become a professional. These would also be used to deliver brief background information to the students.

Background reading – after attending the lectures the students could then go back and further research what has been discussed in the lecture. This will ensure that they are gaining a well-rounded knowledge of their chosen career.

Practical skill – role play – Midwifery is a very serious career and deals with people’s lives. This being the case, I feel it would be beneficial for students to be given lifelike scenarios and work in groups to come to the best solutions. This would prepare them for some of the things they might later see in the working world.

Work based learning – Although they would gain some of their experience from role play working this would be no-where near enough to prepare them for what it would be like when they go in to the work force. Allowing them to go out on placement and shadow qualified practitioners would give them the experience they need, build their confidence and secure/put in to practice the knowledge that they have gained from their own learning.

By watching this episode of One Born Every Minute I have realised that there are countless other skills which make someone a professional. Being comforting and re-assuring are two of the skills that were most noticeable in the midwifery unit. These are skills that I have never really thought about in becoming a teacher but are ones which without a doubt are very important. Children are continuously being presented by knowledge and ideas that they will not have come across before. This can be a scary prospect for them and as their teachers we have to comfort them in their new challenges and re-assure them in their attempts to understand. It is also clear that professional skills are something which are continuously developing while being faced with new situations each day – one skill born every minute.

Professionalism and Being a Professional

Video 1
What makes a teacher who makes a difference?

Are teachers like doctors? Do we save lives? Well, medically, no we don’t save lives. However, a good teacher should have the ability to turn lives round and ensure that children achieve the best they possibly can. How can they do this? What makes a teacher who can make that difference?

Reflecting on this video sparked several ideas within me on what it really takes to be that teacher who makes a difference. Would it be fair to say that teaching is a calling? I know that teaching has always been the career (excluding when I was a little girl who wanted to be a singer) that I wanted to pursue and so perhaps for me it is my calling. However I have recently received a message from a girl two years younger than me panicking because she has changed her mind from wanting to do chemical engineering to being a teacher. Is this going to make her any less of a teacher than someone like myself who has never really considered anything else? My answer to that would be no. At any stage in your life you could change your mind on where you would like to go next and so long as you have the passion, drive and determination to follow it through and be the best you can be then this shouldn’t put you at any less advantage.

As it is clearly identified by the South African teachers there are numerous aspects which make a good teacher; someone who is willing to be part of a team and is willing to take time to understand other professionals opinions; who ensures that everyone is able to communicate with them; who is dedicated to their work and ensures that they take their learning out with the classroom and is continuously expanding and reflecting on their own knowledge and practice; who incorporates other professionals and the surrounding community within their teaching. Lastly and- in my opinion – most importantly as one gentleman stated in the video, a good teacher should love their work. I believe that if a teacher has that passion and love towards their work then all of the above will naturally become a part of them and their practice.

Video 2
Do you agree with what these teachers call professionalism?

The main point of agreement from this video is that teachers are professionals in the sense that children see them as their role model. We should be professional in our practice in terms of: our appearance, the way we communicate, our actions and our responses. One lady also speaks about having the ability as a professional to work cooperatively with others, including parents and staff. I agree with what they have to say in this video. However, I feel that professionalism is much more than this. A professional should have a deep understanding of their profession and should possess all of the skills that were discussed in the reflection of video clip one.

Video 3
What is the message being conveyed?

This video brings to attention the question of there being difference between being a professional and being a worker. Chris Christie makes clear that he believes teachers should be admired by everyone around them and deserve more credit than what they are given for looking after and caring about our children.
In opposed to this Karen Lewis claims that she is an ‘educational worker’. The phrase “punch a clock” suggesting that he just clocks in and out of work would suggest that there is no care or passion for the work. This would suggest that Lewis believes that teacher just simply turn up for work and are therefore no more than “workers”.

Personally I would agree to a certain extent with Lewis. However I would be inclined to turn this around and say that if you are simply just ‘turning up for work’ then you are not being professional. Every teacher is different and I am almost certain that some teachers put in a lot more extra time to their lesson plans and development than others; thus making them more professional in their practice.



Professionalism vs The Online World!

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

I suppose it could be quite difficult to find a happy medium for you personal life and your private life online – What is appropriate?
Everyone likes to go out once in a while, have fun and let their hair down – which is perfectly acceptable and only natural. However, come the next day when you want to tweet about the dramas of your night or upload some nice (or perhaps not so nice) photos on Facebook/ Instagram then this is when you have to stop and think about any consequences it could have now and in the future. It is without a doubt the best idea to make all your accounts private but even then this does not mean that you are safe to upload anything slightly inappropriate; at the end of the day, everyone knows someone – being private doesn’t mean that your friends can’t show their friends and before you know it .. the daughter of a future employee has access to you in all your glory. Just a thought. 

There is then the question of having an account which pupils can interact with you and fellow peers through. I believe this is a great opportunity to take children’s learning out with the classroom and to also share links, videos and useful information with them. This still provokes the question of how much you want them to be able to see; do you keep this account solemnly for interacting with pupils or do you share your personal views on here too?

As teachers, I feel we have a duty to keep ourselves up to date with the numerous social media sites that children are able to sign up to. Knowing the ins and outs of these sites enables us to have an awareness of what children are involved in and also allows us to talk about them with the children; how they use them, why they like them and the safety aspect.
How are these challenges/opportunities framed?

The older generation tend to have very rigid views on social media and what it offers for children. They believe that it is hindering their education and a common point of concern is whether or not it is taking away from their social interaction skills. Many people ‘frame’ social media as a means of simply interacting their social life and although, yes, there are many dangers that come with the online world they refuse to look past these to the endless opportunities that it could offer for children.

I personally think using social media to further children’s education offers endless opportunities and advantages to their development. Having a negative view towards it isn’t going to eradicate it from society and so I feel that we should be embracing something that has captured children’s fascination and use it encourage and motivate them in their education.

How did gender affect my school experience?

Gender bias can go back to the very first day in Primary school where girls had pink or purple themed clothes pegs and name cards and boys had blue or green. From being on placement it is clear that this is still something which occurs in primary schools – getting no say in whether the children would prefer a dinosaur or a princess for their nametag.

My brother was a lover of football and I tended to go along with my Dad and watch him train or practice with him at home – sparking an interest in the sport. When it came to being part of school sports teams in primary school girls were encouraged to join netball while boys were encouraged to join the football team. Due to the lack of encouragement for girls to play football in the school I soon steered far clear of this spark I had developed and placed myself with the rest of the girls, playing netball.

Excluding these factors, gender was never really something – at the time- that I felt affected my education. However, a little older and wiser I can now see that there was a distinctive difference in the expectations between boys and girls. There are several things I can think of to demonstrate this; Boys were better at mental maths, they were more destructive and couldn’t concentrate for long; Where as girls were always the ones with the lovely neat hand writing, settled/ more attentive in class with a much more caring nature. Although nine times out of ten this probably could be argued to be the case there was always the children who fell outwith the ‘general expectations’ of their gender but lacked encouragement to further progress as they went unnoticed.

A desire to teach!

My desire to teach has come from several experiences – firstly being my experience as a ten year old girl moving to Spain. This was a daunting experience for me and to make matters worse, I was being put in to a Spanish speaking school. As soon as I stepped through the classroom door I was made to feel at ease by my teacher. He took a strong interest in me, asking – to his best ability – where I was from and what my interests were. He always found a way to make lessons exciting and would hate for us to be sitting for a long period of time. His love to teach and enthusiasm towards the pupils and their learning is something which from a young age has inspired me greatly and are skills that I ensure to embrace as a teacher.

There are other factors which have ensured me that teaching is the right career for me such as going out on several placements during my time in school and becoming a coach at my local gymnastics club. Being out on placement allowed me to observe several teachers in their environment and pick up on the skills it takes to be a great teacher – patience, enthusiasm, encouraging and devoted. Coaching gymnastics has not only allowed me to gain great experience in working with children but has also enabled me to see how I can have a positive impact on children’s progression and how teaching them to do even the most simplest of skills can boost their confidence and determination to achieve more.

A combination of all of the above has given me the determination to become a fun, friendly, devoted and, most importantly, inspirational teacher.