Introduction: our main responsibilities are leading, planning for and teaching on the PGCE primary programme at York St John
Three key themes in today’s session, and mainly focused on collaboration and reflective practice: Collaboration: we will outline how we are collaborating with our PGCE students, and we will also be collaborating with you and you with each other today Reflective practice: how we are trying to improve opportunities for PGCE students to reflect on their learning journey in becoming teachers, and we will also be looking at our own reflection on ourselves as tutors and the PGCE programme. As a result of this reflection, we have made and are still making changes to the programme and also to staff and their thinking. These changes have resulted in a radical re-structuring of how we deliver part of the programme – more of that later.
I would like to set the context this session and explain to you the starting points for our discussions. This was the title of my Masters dissertation completed earlier this year. The aim of the study was to find out whether PGCE students were able to reflect more deeply on themselves as beginning teachers. Pollard (2008) and Calderhead (1987) would suggest that there is a continuum of reflection where NQTs (Pollard calls ‘competent teachers’) might be able to reflect beyond the ‘specific and immediate practical teaching skills’ that ‘novice teachers’ (those in ITT) tend to focus on. This challenged me in my thinking and made me ask whether we knew enough about our own students and could they, indeed, demonstrate reflective skills to a greater extent during the PGCE programme? We were already beginning to develop opportunities for enquiry-based learning within the taught modules at university, as the revalidated programme aim was ‘to foster an enquiry-based approach to professional learning’ . I also was interested in the mentor and student discussions after lesson observations during school placements, motivated by the work of Lofthouse and Wright (2007) which looked at the use of questioning in their secondary programme. I had observed that some PGCE students were ‘talked at’ by mentors and I wanted to see if we could enable students to be empowered in the discussions they had with mentors in school. I observed, as Hobson & Malderez (2006) that mentor feedback of ‘good points first, then bad points and suggestions for improvement’ did not appear to help students learn autonomously. If students could ask questions of their own practice with mentors, who offered a different role of instigating thought through questions, perhaps the students would take ownership of their learning, thus helping to develop their own reflective practice.
I wanted the students to feel they had an interest in developing their skills as teachers, thereby self-selecting. I had established internal funding through an EBL project at YSJ and so could pay for mentors to come into university to work alongside students and colleagues. The workshops would look at the traditional role of the mentor, consider skills relating to coaching as well as mentoring, look at how we might use feedback, and how to develop questioning and listening skills. It would be important to enable mentors and students to negotiate their own relationships and make it work for them, therefore the role of the tutors would be more of a facilitator: to introduce ideas, skills and aims, which the mentor and student might implement within their school and placement Students would then embark on their block placement, with some time set aside in the discussions after lessons, for students to lead the dialogue. The usual feedback would also have to take place , so that the QTS Standards could be referred to and the documentation completed. Students would then, with the support of tutors, analyse the discussions, focusing on the questions they asked. Over time, it was hoped that students would find their skills develop and use higher order questions, possibly evidence for a deeper level of reflection.
You might be thinking already that you can see potential pitfalls in this research... Would I get any students interested? How would they feel in school with a ‘mentor’ who was the more experienced teacher and ‘who knew best’? Would they be able to, or want to, hold their own in a discussion? Would mentors be interested? Could they afford the time? Were they reflective professionals themselves and would this present a challenge to themselves individually? I presented my ideas at a YSJ conference in January this year. A colleague from another Faculty to Education & Theology described my aims as ‘over-ambitious’. I can see his point but why not try and challenge practice and thinking? I am a positive person!
You’ve guessed it...it didn’t quite work out. The sample of students began with seven but ended up with two. Students often didn’t turn up to the workshops because they ‘had so much else to do’. The hours for face to face sessions, particularly on the two professional modules, were heavy. This perhaps could also resonate with Pollard’s suggestion of having to focus on practical skills to begin with. Due to timescales and students wishing to withdraw from the research after their first placement, mentors were not involved in the workshops. It was difficult trying to set something up with PGCE students when they are only with us for 38 weeks. In the interviews, students said they had felt they had benefited from the workshops, were more aware of themselves as learners, but needed more time to talk about their own learning, rather than having a lot of tutor-led sessions. They did profess to feeling more assertive and confident in themselves as a result of being involved in this research, however. They said that they did not feel that supported through documentation, such as school placement handbooks and lesson observation forms. They said they found it hard to decide what they needed to work on because there was so much involved.
We felt it was necessary to look at the structure of our modules, in particular, the two professional modules. We also needed to look at providing some supporting tools to help students understand their own learning in becoming a teacher. We shall now consider one of these tools for supporting students.
Areas for development QTS Standards – in addition to the seminar on ‘yourself as a learner’ to run a workshop where students familiarise themselves with the standards as a pre-cursor to the teaching and learning strands of the continuum For each strand encourage the students to gather evidence as part of a Learning Journal or portfolio. The students may then use the portfolio as a discussion tool during Academic Tutor meetings A possible characteristic of a master level student is greater ownership of and responsibility for their personal learning. This may require a shift in the way in which the programme is delivered i.e. a balance between tutor taught sessions, workshops, enquiry based learning, student led seminars, supported open learning and independent learning. Share with the students more information about how adults learn. – in order for students to take ownership, adapt and personalise their journey they need to have an understanding of how adults learn. Form a school experience documentation working party. The School Experience documentation is not seen by the students as a supportive tool for their placement.
The role of the tutor- this role is changing from teacher/lecturer, tutor, to one that is also facilitator. This requires a definition and understanding of change in role as well as training. The role of the tutor – in order to embed the ‘tool’ into the programme tutors need to use the ‘tool’. Co-coaching - Opportunities for students to reflect on and collaborate over issues in order to arrive at a shared and eventually personal understanding. Learning Partners may be a way forward. Opportunity to involve students in the school experience documentation review. Re- structuring of the delivery of the programme to provide a greater balance. The programme needs to be structured in such a way that there is opportunity to respond to student need rather than reacting.
C12 - Jenny Carpenter and Madelaine Lockwood (York St. John) - Developing and supporting PGCE student awareness of learning to become a teacher
Key themes <ul><li>Collaboration </li></ul><ul><li>Reflective practice </li></ul><ul><li>Change and change management </li></ul>
Outcomes for this session <ul><li>Know the context for the research </li></ul><ul><li>Critique a supporting tool to help student reflection </li></ul><ul><li>Share ways in which your institution supports the student learning experience </li></ul>
Introduction <ul><li>‘ Does student-instigated dialogue promote a deeper level of reflection in post-lesson discussions?’ </li></ul>
Methodology <ul><li>Small sample of current students, self-selected </li></ul><ul><li>Seminars and tutor-supported workshops with mentors and students </li></ul><ul><li>Discussions with students and mentors to be recorded after lesson observations </li></ul><ul><li>Students to analyse their use of questions </li></ul><ul><li>Students to compare their questioning over the placement and refer to Bloom’s taxonomy, Kolb’s learning theory </li></ul>
Findings <ul><li>An over-loaded curriculum </li></ul><ul><li>School placement documentation focused on administration for schools </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of understanding and information of the expectations of where students are in learning to become teachers </li></ul><ul><li>Based on two students and four in-depth interviews after placement </li></ul>
Implications <ul><li>Reviewing the taught professional modules </li></ul><ul><li>Documentation to support students </li></ul>
Developing and supporting PGCE student awareness of learning to become a teacher The Continuum of Student Experience
The Continuum of Student Experience <ul><li>What is your initial reaction? </li></ul>
Collaborative activity <ul><li>What are the positive ways in which the tool might be used in the following contexts? </li></ul><ul><li>Group 1: Placement in school with mentors </li></ul><ul><li>Group 2: In university taught sessions/modules </li></ul><ul><li>Group 3: In individual tutorials (Academic Tutor) </li></ul>
Collaborative activity <ul><li>If you were to adopt this tool in your institution, </li></ul><ul><li>what part of your practice would need to change? </li></ul>
Feedback <ul><li>Two groups of YSJ students were asked about the Continuum in their first Academic Tutor meeting: </li></ul><ul><li>1 . Some students did not recall having seen the Continuum. </li></ul><ul><li>Some students did recall having seen the Continuum but were unsure of its purpose. </li></ul>
Feedback <ul><li>3. Students did recall the Continuum and found it reassuring and supportive in identifying a personal baseline position. </li></ul><ul><li>4. From this initial discussion student response suggests a lack of clarity around the meaning of the strand statements. </li></ul><ul><li>5. Psychology students initially commented that the strands carried little meaning as they were grounded in experience. </li></ul>
Our initial response <ul><li>Areas for development: </li></ul><ul><li>QTS Standards </li></ul><ul><li>Evidence </li></ul><ul><li>Introduction to and direction in using the tool </li></ul><ul><li>Academic Tutor meetings </li></ul><ul><li>Delivery and structure of the programme </li></ul><ul><li>Adult learning </li></ul><ul><li>School Experience documentation </li></ul>
Our initial response <ul><li>Implications: </li></ul><ul><li>The role of the tutor </li></ul><ul><li>Student coaching </li></ul><ul><li>Documentation review </li></ul><ul><li>Programme re-structuring </li></ul><ul><li>Capacity building </li></ul>
Professional modules <ul><li>Delivery of the professional modules has been re-structured: </li></ul><ul><li>Key note lecture </li></ul><ul><li>Tutor led workshop </li></ul><ul><li>Tutor-facilitated enquiry-based learning </li></ul><ul><li>Student led seminars </li></ul><ul><li>Supported open learning </li></ul>
References <ul><li>Calderhead, J (1987). The Quality of Student Teachers’ Professional Learning. European Journal of Teacher Education 10 (3) p269-78. Cited in Furlong, J & Maynard, T (1995). Mentoring Student Teachers. London: Routledge </li></ul><ul><li>Hobson, A J & Malderez, A (Eds) (2005). Becoming a Teacher: Student teachers’ motives and preconceptions and early school-based experiences during ITT. Research Report 673. Available at: http://www.gtce.org.uk/133031/133036/139594/139722/bat_rr673_year1 </li></ul><ul><li>Lofthouse, R & Wright, D (2007). A New Model of Observing Students Teach: an opportunity for practitioner enquiry. Paper presented at 3 rd Annual ESCalate ITE Conference 2007. St Martin’s College, Lancaster </li></ul><ul><li>Pollard, A (2008). Reflective Teaching: Evidence-informed professional practice. (3 rd Ed). London: Continuum </li></ul>