What would you like to know more about or be able to do differently in your professional practice?

In my professional practice I would like to participate more in my reflective practice. Reflective practice is, in its simplest form, thinking about or reflecting on what you do. It is closely linked to the concept of learning from experience, in that you think about what you did, and what happened, and decide from that what you would do differently next time. I believe this is a skill that comes over time, but because thinking about what has happened is part of being human, the difference between casual ‘thinking’ and ‘reflective practice’ is that reflective practice requires a conscious effort to think about events, and develop insights into them. Reflective practice is a skill which can be learned and honed, which is good news for most of us.

“Reflective practice is an active, dynamic action-based and ethical set of skills, placed in real time and dealing with real, complex and difficult situations.”
– Moon, J. (1999), Reflection in Learning and Professional Development: Theory and Practice, Kogan Page, London.

So, chat can I do to help develop the critical, constructive and creative thinking that is necessary for reflective practice?

Neil Thompson, in his book People Skills, suggests that there are six steps:

  1. Read – around the topics you are learning about or want to learn about and develop
  2. Ask – others about the way they do things and why
  3. Watch – what is going on around you
  4. Feel – pay attention to your emotions, what prompts them, and how you deal with negative ones
  5. Talk – share your views and experiences with others in your organisation
  6. Think – learn to value time spent thinking about your work
So, it’s not just the thinking that’s important, it is developing an understanding of theories and others’ practice too, and explore ideas with others. Reflective practice can be a shared activity: it doesn’t have to be done alone.

All in all, reflective practice is a tool for improving learning in relation to your work and life experiences. Although it will take time to adopt the technique of reflective practice.

My personal theory on how students learn is …

In many ways I am still developing my understanding of current learning theories and my opinions on such, and therefore I am still developing my own personal learning theory or pedagogy, but I do however have some ideas about the way in which I believe students learn best. In terms of constructivism I certainly believe that students can learn quite successfully and deepen their understandings when they actively construct their own meaning. I see the importance in making work meaningful. When students can relate the task to their ‘real world’ experiences and prior knowledge, engagement is increased and deeper understandings can be formed. I also see the importance of collaborative work as I believe students can often construct their own meaning or develop understandings as they teach content to another student. Often students retain more when they need to verbalize it to another and so discussion is vital. I also think it is important to review prior knowledge, as this prior understanding is the basis upon which we further develop our understanding.

The role of an educator is to create an environment that is inclusive of all its members, no matter their capabilities, interests, or cultural and socioeconomic background. The classroom should be a safe and supportive environment in which all students have a right to learn and develop through rich and engaging activities. I believe education should be enjoyable, and to do this is must be diverse in its content and its delivery. Every student learns differently and every student has different strengths and interests, but each student has the right to a fair, enriching and all encompassing education. As Albert Einstein once said ‘Insanity is doing things over and over again and expecting the different results.’ If we want students to learn and grow, we as educators must learn and grow. Teachers cannot be restricted to one method or style, but rather adopt strategies and techniques from a range of teaching methods, and be open to exploring new ones. I believe cooperative and collaborative learning is essential for students both in their academic and social development. I believe education should not be completely centred on content but rather the skills and experiences that come with it. Students deserve the opportunity to inquire, research, question, debate, analyse, experiment, explain and discuss and ultimately to LEARN.

The purpose of education in the twenty first century

I believe that education should be an empowering process that allows and guides children to develop their passions, critical thinking, compassion, and orientation towards wisdom for timely action. In other words, self-cultivation should be the purpose of education. Understanding self-cultivation in terms of being a part of a unified field of relationships is key to the growth of a mature culture of peace. When the natural web of our relationships is used to strengthen our depth of knowledge, the feedback from the environment supports timely adjustments and refinements in our emotional and technical developments.

Promoting Higher Levels of Reflective Writing in Student Journals – Hume

After reading the article “Promoting higher levels of reflective writing in student journals” by Ann Hume, I have gained an insight on the impact of reflective writing as a professional. This initiative has been based primarily on the application of well-known theories and strategies to develop student teachers’ reflective skills for enhanced professional learning through reflection (Schon, 1987; Shulman, 1987). The article highlighted the many benefits reflective journaling has in one’s professional life and many benefits. Thinking about one’s experiences is believed to enhance professional learning and growth by helping student teachers to develop an educational philosophy that will guide and improve their teaching practice in classrooms.

I agree that to engage in purposeful and regular reflection, some measures and guidelines needed to be provided for journal keeping and recognition given to the worth of their reflections. The initial support for the students involved a reflective tool the ‘Shulman’ framework’. I enjoyed learning about the Shulman framework, as I have never heard of it before reading this article. In seeking to promote teaching that emphasises comprehension and reasoning, transformation and reflection, Shulman (1987) observed that good teachers utilise a complex knowledge base gained from a range of sources or ‘domains of scholarship and experience’ for understanding (p. 5).

I enjoy ‘unplanned’ informal reflections (reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action) because verbal reflections in the classes seem to carry more weight when new learning occurs. When there is no guidance about how to structure reflective writing and little imperative to produce journals, I find that I struggle. There is strong evidence in the research literature that a more structured approach to the teaching of reflective writing that intentionally targets and scaffolds student learning of the skills, especially in activities that promote greater understanding of learning how to learn in a given discipline area (Moore, 2005), can result in higher quality thinking about teaching and learning.


“The irony of life is that it is lived forward but understood backward.” – Søren Kierkegaard

This article shown me how an appropriate focus on experience in teacher education can be influential in the development of effective reflective practice and how effective reflective practice might be important in the development of one’s professional knowledge. When reading this article, it touched upon points to which I am familiar, but not have dived deeper into. I enjoyed reading this article because I am able to relate to the experiences of the teachers. Through their personal documentation, I am able to see how I can begin my process of professional reflection within my field. An important issue raised is the positioning of the educator as a learner in a curriculum constructed environment as a result of real experiences and reconstructed through interaction between learners. I think it is very important for educators to be co-learners among learners.

I enjoyed the points that the author has made throughout the article. It offers a variety of approaches to examining practice in order that we might discover and research some of the taken-for-granted assumptions that influence our approach to practice. It provides opportunities for us to understand the stories of how teachers live through reflective practice, many of which we identify with personally. Furthermore, there has been a recognition that reflection is important in sustaining one’s professional health and competence and that the ability to exercise professional judgment is in fact informed through reflection on practice.

I have learned from the article that reflection on experience enhances learning through experience such that divergent rather than convergent learning outcomes are encouraged. Also, that effective reflective practice involves careful consideration of both “seeing” and “action” to enhance the possibilities of learning through experience. The ability to be an effective reflective practitioner is crucial in the development of knowledge of this kind, and it is this knowledge that is documented that helps to highlight the distinction between reflection and rationalization of practice.

After reading the article I believe that there is an important interplay between experience and reflection is also influenced by the time of reflection, which has a dramatic impact on what can be seen and acted on. The professional knowledge developed through effective reflective practice offers a window into the practice setting whereby the contradictory nature of the two views (students’ and teacher’s) creates a diversity of ways of seeing actions in the classroom teaching and learning environment. Anticipatory, retrospective, and contemporaneous reflection demand different skills and framing abilities and interact with experience. The different demands associated with the time of reflection can influence learning through experience.


Using Audio Recording to Capture Powerful Moments” from the book “Teaching in the Digital Age” by Brian Puerling

When searching on the web I found that a lot of links took me onto product pages of where I could purchase a “capture tool”. I found it strange because I had assumed the search would have been easier than anticipated. I had to refine my search a few times in order to find something that had sparked an interest to me. I can across a blog titled “Preschool Spot: resources for busy teachers” (http://preschoolspot.com/teaching-in-the-digital-age-book-study/), and the blog post discussed a summer book study blog party that would be taking place and the book of choice was ‘Teaching in the Digital Age’ by Brian Puerling. So I further researched the book and blogs that based studies upon this book, and it was very popular. The book seemed very interesting and informative based upon what I was reading from the blogs. I googled the book itself and unfortunately it was not available online. So, I gathered information from the blogs on what the chapters were about and chose to focus on chapter 4 – Use Audio Recordings to Capture Powerful Moments. I went into the nearest Chapters and skimmed through the book, but also focusing on chapter 4.

In this book, Brian Puerling, the author of “Teaching in the Digital Age,”  identifies seven specific ways audio recordings can be used to enhance learning…

1. Create messages for others

2. Capture conversations with classroom guests

3. Organize a listening center

4. Enhance a listening centre

5. Develop classroom community

6. Facilitate skill development in music, and

7. Support development of reading fluency.

(Puerling, 2012, pp. 96).

Puerling goes on to elaborate on each of the points listed above in this chapter as well as a few more points. There were so many terrific ideas for using audio devices in the classroom that I can’t possibly cover them all in this post so I chose to share with you a few tips Puerling shares on organizing a listening centre.

All last school year, I kept thinking that I wanted to set up a listening centre. I remember the type of listening centre from my school years where you hook up a set of headphones to one recorder that is attached to a table.  The children all sit at the table and all listen to the same recording.  You had to have a cassette recorder and a books on tape and the book to put all of this together. Well not any more. It wasn’t until I read this chapter that I realized that this process was much harder than it had to be. All I need is my IPod and a headphone and I would be all ready to go.

After reading this chapter, I now realize that a listening centre doesn’t have to be so complicated or stationary. Puerling recommends using an IPod touch so that the listening centre can be set up anywhere in the classroom.  I love that idea. I love the idea of being able to bring the listening centre outside or set it over by my bookshelf or even use it at the easel.  Just by making the listening centre mobile, the possibilities are endless!

Ways a listening centre can be used in the classroom:

Student Learning

Puerling identifies a few ways the listening centre can be used to foster learning in the classroom such as listening and reading along to children’s books. In addition, the listening centre can be used to listen and sing along with favourite children’s songs. But finally, if you have the ability to record and save your own digital recordings, the listening centre can be transformed into a way to invite children to tell and listen to their own stories and songs, record and listen to their own name or for the teacher to record her own voice and make listening games or other types of listening activities.

Parent Education

In addition, Peurling suggests the idea of creating a parent/visitor listening centre as well. Set out a table with photos of different centres you use throughout the classroom then have the children help you record information about each centre and the way it is used to promote learning in your classroom.

Guest Recordings

Puerling also recommends making a digital recording of any guest that comes to read or share with your class. Puerling makes the observation that children tend to be very excited when a guest comes to visit and will more than likely not hear everything a guest has to say.  By recording the guest, students can listen to what the guest had to say at a later time when they are ready to concentrate and use the information for extended activities.

Puerling, B. (2012). Teaching in the Digital Age. Redleaf Press.