Monthly Archives: October 2015

What does being an Enquiring Practitioner mean?

The GTCS website defines a Practitioner Enquiry as a ‘finding out’ of information and then a reflection on these findings. It is a vital part of modern teaching practice as it allows the teacher to evaluate their own teaching performance and correct any areas which need developing to ensure they are providing the best education possible for their pupils. Their are clear benefits of Practitioner Enquiry, it provides a method of monitoring and evaluating your own work as a teacher while also empowering teachers to take control of their profession, through challenging and transforming the education system around them. It also enables teachers to increase their knowledge of the teaching profession and boost their professional confidence and self-esteem. GTCS also believe that through Practitioner Enquiry the ‘quality of professional discourse in schools about educational problems and issues’ is improved as teachers are more informed of their profession and more inclined to make pReflectionolicy changing decisions and stances. However there are some challenges, GTCS raised concerns over how theoretical the concept was and are unsure whether the policy would with stand the school environment, they are also concerned that the enquiry may become superficial and those taking part will simply see it as an exercise taking up their own teaching time rather than an opportunity to better their own performance.

As a student teacher the idea of Practitioner Enquiry is interesting and a little daunting. As someone who strongly dislikes seeing myself on film or hearing my own voice on recordings, the reports of filming yourself teaching to see where you can improve  do not appeal at all. However I can see the obvious benefits to my teaching career which could be gained by stepping back and reflecting on my technique. Therefore I plan to start reviewing my own progress as soon as I enter a classroom whether that is part of a placement or at the end of my degree when I begin my probation yea, or even during my time as a student reviewing my academic work.

Five important features of a professional teacher.


Integrity is incredibly important as a teacher and a professional, without integrity you will not stick to your morals and will therefore not be a good role model for the pupils you are educating. The definition of integrity is ‘The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles’ these are important qualities to have as they are viewed as signs of being a ‘good person’ and this is something we, as teachers, are trying to educate our pupils to be. This is especially highlighted in Curriculum for Excellence and its capacity for creating responsible citizens. A teacher with integrity will be fair with their pupils and provide the best teaching service as possible.


Patience is always needed as a teacher, you have to be able to remain calm at all times even when under large amounts of stress or having a difficult day. Teachers have to provide a role model for how to deal with tricky situations in a calm and sensible way helping the pupils to find ways to deal with day to day life in a reasonable and adult manner allowing them to function fully in later life. Patience is also useful as there will often be occasions when you have a pupil who struggles with a piece of work and you have to find a new way to explain it to them until they understand, this can often take a long time and be frustrating but a good professional teacher has to be able to remain patient throughout the process.


Empathy, like patience, is useful in the classroom and helps to teach the children to be responsible citizens. As a teacher you have to be able to understand what your pupils are feeling and why they are struggling with their work, if you cannot understand what is wrong you will not be able to fix it and allow them to move on with their education. Furthermore having empathy with the class allows often makes you more approachable and pupil usually find that a teacher they can trust and like is far better, both in terms of their academic achievement and enjoyment, than one they do not get on with.


Being kind is always important, and a kind teacher is especially important. A kind teacher will make a calm, comforting and enjoyable learning environment in which pupils will enjoy learning and feel safe when they come to school. This will boost their academic achievement as they will want to spend time learning and the social aspect of the classroom will be better as having a kind role model will encourage the pupils to be kind to one and other.


Being just is a very professional trait. You should never treat one pupil differently than another, either favouring or bullying. A teacher who picks on certain pupils will create a negative learning environment and that pupil will not wish to attend school or be able to work to their highest standard. Also as a teacher you are providing a service as you are helping to shape the future generations and through being a  moral citizen you promote fairness and this will encourage a generation of just, law abiding citizens, again helping to promote the capacity of responsible citizens.



Professionalism and social media

We are living during a time ruled over by the internet and a whole host of forms of social media, this is both exciting and daunting, especially when starting out on a professional career. Social media can be incredibly useful as it allows for rapid spread of information, we find out about global events at a much faster rate than ever before, in fact in 2012 there were more than five million Instagram posts, 175 million tweets and 250 million Facebook photos being uploaded per day. This wide variety of information being available to us is extremely useful as we can now know far more about the world we live in and take part much more in a global community. Professionally social media is useful as it allows for discussion over many topics and encourages participation from many people who care about the profession, for example new teaching regulations can be discussed by the teaching professionals and this will lead to a stronger and more developed profession where all those involved have had an input. However as a professional you must keep your personal life separate from your working life, you must also always keep your professional boundaries and moral standards. Social media gives us a chance to voice any thoughts and opinions you may have and this is a fantastic opportunity but can also lead to serious issues or ruin your professional appearance. There have been many cases where an inappropriate comment made on social media or a photo showing non-professional behavior have emerged and ruined the career or reputation of a member of the teaching profession. However through careful monitoring and thought you can marry your personal and professional life online. You can share interesting ideas and news stories which you feel will enhance your professional life, sites like Pinterest are also useful as they provide a vast resource pf creative ideas and help make new and exciting ways to teach. I plan to keep social media sites like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram separate from my professional life as I feel these are more personal and I use them as a way to keep in touch with friends. However I have a Pinterest which I collect interesting teaching ideas on and if I was to get Twitter I would use it for my professional life. However all forms of social media need to be kept professional and I monitor what I allow to be put up and will never make a statement which could be deemed unprofessional or put my career at risk. They key factor when using social media as a professional is that you have to remain sensible and always be aware of how you are presenting yourself.

What is Reflection?

Reflection is a process which allows a learners to evaluate their work and improve what they have been doing. The video provided on Blackboard defines reflection as a process which allows us to challenge our existing beliefs in order to learn from a situation, and a process which allows us to take control of our learning. It can be simply talking with someone, perhaps a tutor, and discussing what you have done and how you could have done it better; or it could be writing a blog post in which you assess your progress and spend some time considering what you can do to move on and be more successful. It should be done in a professional way and should not be a string of complaints about other people or the situation you are in. This is a way for you acknowledge your own successes and faults and therefore you must be honest and critical of yourself without being churlish or offensive, especially when reflecting on feedback from peers or tutors. The purpose of reflection is to improve on your work so you can not refuse to accept that you have faults or treat any issues as someone else’s fault. You also can not be purely negative as you have to acknowledge what you have done right so that you can ensure you do that again. Without effective reflection it is almost impossible to be an effective learner and you will not be able to improve your standard of work to a good level.



What are the benefits of active learning and cooperative working?

Active learning and cooperative working are two very important skills to have both as a university student and as a member of the teaching profession.

Active learning is important as it stops you from being complacent during lectures and will help to improve your ability and achievements. Active learning is a process which allows you to engage with your study and get much more out of lectures and reading. It can come in many forms; taking notes as you listen or read, taking part in discussions, going away and re-writing the lecture slides in your own words. By doing this you engage with the topic and consolidate your learning, it also helps you to identify which areas you are struggling with allowing you to go away and work on these areas which will result in you coming away with a higher mark and a better understanding of the subject. It will also save you time in the long run as you will be learning and revising through out the year meaning when you come to exam time you will have been preparing for months, this means instead of a rapid session of panicked revision which will result in a lower grade and higher stress levels, you will be aware of which topics need more focus and you will be able to give yourself much more time resulting in a calmer and easier process.

Cooperative working is also vitally important as it applies both to student life and your later life as a primary teacher where almost all work will be done cooperatively between you and your pupils. It has many benefits as it allows you to come together with your peers and share ideas and thoughts, this is useful as it will allow you to build upon your original thoughts and develop a stronger knowledge base. As we all have different strengths it will also improve the quality of work being produced as instead of having to only use the skills you have you can use the wide variety of skills the people around you have giving the work a depth you could not attain with just one persons input. However cooperative working can have some negative points, for it to be a truly successful activity all the members of the group must be providing the same level of input, as if one person is overpowering the group it is unfair on everyone else as they do not get a chance to provide their own ideas and input. However on the other hand if one member of the group is not providing their own ideas or taking part in the discussions then this is also unfair as they are benefiting from the hard work of the people around them without helping them. On a whole the idea of cooperative working is a positive one as it allows a group of people to improve their knowledge and produces a higher quality of work, while teaching people how to work as a team effectively which is a hugely important skill for teachers to have.

Managing my learning- What helps and hinders me?

Recognition/Reflection Action
What helps my learning?Example: “Discussing the topic with others” How can I utilise this

  • Set up a study group of like-minded peers
  • Engage with the online community
 Writing things down in my own words.
  •  Take notes during lectures and workshops etc
  • Write blog posts about what I have been learning.
 Expanding my understanding of a topic.
  •  Read around the subject in my spare time.
  • Watch relevant documentaries.
  • Listen to radio programs.
  • Read newspaper reports to do with teaching.
 Working with other people.
  •  Study in groups.
  • Discuss the days work with other people.
  • Working in groups when possible.
 Taking regular breaks to keep focused.
  •  Take part in a sports team.
  • Join an unrelated club or society to have a break.
  • Going for daily exercise as a study break.
 Having quiet background music to help keep me focused.
  •  Make a study playlist to put me in the right frame of mind to work.
  • Wear head phones to block out other distractions.
 Having set study periods during the day.
  •  Have a regular bed time and waking up time.
  • Have a timetable to keep me on track.
  • Having scheduled study time and break times.


Recognition/Reflection Action
What hinders my learning?Example: “I am easily distracted” How can I address this factor?

  • Study in a place were distractions are minimal
  • Read lecture notes before the lecture and then take notes lectures to keep me focused
 Being distracted but other people around me.
  •  Unless working in a group try and avoid talking to other people who are not doing the same work as me.
 Being distracted by my phone etc.
  •  Stay off social media when working.
  • Put my phone on the other side of the room.
  • Turn my phone onto silent to stop it distracting me.
  • Have scheduled periods when I am allowed to check my phone or facebook.
 Agreeing to going out when I should be working.
  • Have a set timetable when I am meant to be working.
  • Use social events as rewards for working which I can only go to if I have finished the days work.
  • Restrict the amount of nights I can go out on to ensure I am able to sleep enough to maintain a high level of work.
  •  Don’t use cleaning as an excuse not to do work.
  • Have a set schedule for doing cleaning, laundry and food shopping.
 Not being organised.
  •  Keep my work space clean and tidy.
  • Have a set schedule for when things are to be done.
  • Keep up to date with any work or events by checking my emails and blackboard everyday.
  • Check my timetable everyday.
 Becoming too stressed to complete work properly.
  •  Stay on top of everything so nothing is being done at the last minute.