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Critical reflections

Standard 1 Know students and how they learn


Bowes and Grace (2012) identified that a key part of effective teaching is an understanding of
how students learn and the multifaceted environment they live in. Over the course of my
university degree I have learnt about various educational theories that seek to unravel how
students learn. This is turn has influenced the way I teach and seen my pedagogy take a
conceptual focus, rather than rote learning. I have also been able to develop my
understanding of student development through various university subjects, such as an early
intervention unit, as well as through observations of students on placement. Understanding
how students develop physically, intellectually and socially is an essential part of being an
effective teacher. Through a broad composite class I have also been able to explore the
individual learning needs of students and differentiate to cater to them.
Hanson and Lynch (2004) assert that all students have unique backgrounds and family
histories that will influence their approach to and success at school. Understanding and
appreciating the diverse circumstances each learner has is an essential part of being an
effective teacher. Through placement and especially a Homework Support Program at a
school with students from low socio-economic backgrounds, I have been able to experience a
diverse range of students and respond to their particular needs. I have also been able to work
with several students with a hearing impairment, and worked to holistically include them in
class. While I have not had the chance to work students of Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander backgrounds, I have been able to develop my knowledge of teaching strategies
through a number of university units.
Standard 2 - Know the content and how to teach it
AITSL (2014) asserts that an effective teacher will have a strong knowledge of the content
and strategies to teach it. Over the course of my university degree I have investigated and
interrogated several curricula in an effort to understand them. This, alongside placement, has
allowed me to develop my ability to understand, select and interpret curriculum content.
Placement has also provided the opportunity to build my knowledge of teaching strategies
through the development of various unit planners and lessons, while also observing
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experienced teachers. Research has identified that a teachers knowledge of literacy and
numeracy strategies is essential in positively influencing student outcomes (Ball, Thames, &
Phelps, 2008; Pressley, Rankin, & Yokoi, 1996). Through university I have explored literacy
and numeracy teaching strategies in depth, including developing an understanding of how to
perform both formative and summative assessment. This knowledge has been solidified
through placement where I have had the opportunity to enact and practice teaching strategies,
whilst also discussing curriculum with teaching colleagues.
Teaching the primary curriculum provides an opportune chance to promote reconciliation
between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians (Victorian Curriculum Assessment
Authority, n.d.). Through the completion of an Indigenous History unit at university, and the
engagement at a particular placement with an Aboriginal Elder, I have had the chance to
develop and understanding and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.
Prestridge (2012) discusses how an understanding and positive view of ICT is crucial for
teachers as it has the opportunity to increase student learning outcomes. Through placement I
have had the opportunity to build my ICT knowledge and enact it into the primary classroom.
Standard 3 Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning
AITSL (2014) asserts that an essential part of effective teaching is the planning and
implementation of learning programs with strong teaching strategies. Through university and
placement I have been able to develop my ability to construct, apply, and evaluate a number
of unit plans in different content areas. These unit plans have also developed my ability to not
only proactively select and use appropriate resources, but to also use a wide variety of
teaching strategies to cater to the individual needs of students. Grushka, McLeod, and
Reynolds (2005) identify the importance of reflection in becoming an effective teacher, and
this is evident in my ability to evaluate and improve learning programs through professional
discussion with associate teachers on placement.
Ellis (1992) states that effective communication is essential in creating a supportive
classroom that betters student outcomes. I have worked with a number of associate teachers
over different placements to build my classroom communication skills so any communication
is clear, accessible and useful to students. In turn this has helped me establish challenging
learning goals for students on placement, an essential part of effective teaching (Hattie,
2008). Daniel (2015) asserts the importance of engaging with parents/carers and involving
them in their child/childrens education. Through university I have solidified my
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understanding of family-school partnerships, how they work, what they look like, and the
teachers role in maintaining them. Placement has then provided the opportunity to engage
with parents/carers, understand their desires and establish effective communication in an
attempt to support their child.
Standard 4 Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments
O'Neill and Stephenson, (2011) identified that creating a safe and supportive learning
environment is a key role of the teacher, and linked with student success. In turn they also
noted that effectively managing challenging behaviour is one of the most common issues for
beginning teachers, and mastering it can improve student learning outcomes (Hattie, 2008). I
have had the opportunity through working at outside of hours school care (OSHC) to deal
with extremely challenging behaviour, from students with varying special needs. In turn this
has helped me develop my ability to effectively manage a safe and supportive classroom
environment, including the activities taking place. Through OSHC I have also had the chance
to maintain student safety through constant supervision and knowledge of legislation.
Subban and Sharma (2006) identify teachers awareness of the crucial role they play in
supporting student participation in the classroom and the positive effect this can have on
learning outcomes. Through university units I have explored effective ways to ensure the
inclusion of all students. In my teaching placements I have had the chance to put this into
practice and encourage the participation of students using a variety of strategies from
university and taken from observation of teachers. As technology becomes increasingly
integrated into our lives, there is a need for teachers to be aware on how to use ICT in a safe
and ethical way (Chou, & Peng, 2011; Hanewald, 2008). University has also provided the
chance to develop my understanding through lectures by the Commission on eSafety.
Standard 5 Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning
Both Black and Wiliam (2006), and Shepard, (2000) identified that being able to assess and
provide feedback to students is essential in ensuring positive learning outcomes. Hattie
(2008) also explored the positive effect feedback can have on students academic success.
Therefore, in my last placement I sought to not only use multiple effective data assessment
strategies to guide my planning for students, but also used a number of formative assessment
templates to build notes that could be used to conference with students. I also worked with
my associate teacher to provide specific feedback to students in an attempt to benefit their
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learning outcomes. This feedback took the form of one-on-one conferences, general
discussion and written notes.
AITSL (2014) and Hattie (2008) both identify reporting on student learning as an essential
part of the role of a professional teacher. I understand that not only do students need feedback
on their learning, but parents/carers, and the wider school community benefit from an
understanding of how students are progressing. In my 3rd year placement I was able to work
closely with my associate teacher during the report writing period to help assess, grade, and
explain how students in the class were progressing. The process itself also involved the
interpretation of student data, as my associate teacher showed me his method for triangulating
assessment. This has given me a solid understanding of what is required of teachers when
reporting, and how to progress professionally through the process.
Standard 6 Engage in professional learning
Part of being a professional teacher is the ability to plan for and engage in professional
learning (AITSL, 2014; Avalos, 2011). Teachers are required to be reflective practitioners
who are constantly seeking to improve their teaching methods. Over my placements I have
sought to engage in the various professional development opportunities that have presented
themselves to me. Part of this has involved being aware of my own professional learning
needs and seeking out assistance in these areas. Researchers (Clement, & Vandenberghe,
2000; Ingvarson, Meiers, & Beavis, 2005) have advised the importance of engaging with
colleagues in professional discussions as a method for improving practice. I have sought to
work with my associate teachers over placement to plan for and develop my professional
learning. In turn this has resulted in an improvement in my teaching practice and better
student learning outcomes.
Vescio, Ross and Adams (2008) assert that creating a community and culture in teaching that
promotes professional learning and connection is essential. I have worked with a number of
my pre-service teacher colleagues to develop a community where we strive to assist each
others professional development. In turn we have sought out other professional networks,
such as TeachMeet, in an attempt to connect with the teaching community and acquire
knowledge from experienced teachers. This has helped develop my ability to plan, implement
and engage with professional development in a meaningful way. It has also impacted on my
desire to continue development throughout my teaching career and to seek out a school that
truly embodies a learning community.
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Standard 7 Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community


Similarly to anyone working in a profession that involves children, teachers have a number of
legal responsibilities and obligations (Forlin, & Forlin, 1998; Goldman, 2010). Part of this
legal responsibility involves meeting various legislative standards, codes of ethics and
requirements of schools. Thus, an effective teacher needs to be aware of their role and
responsibilities. Through placement and my work in Outside of Hours School Care (OSHC),
I have developed an understanding of the responsibilities people who work with children
have. In turn I have had practical experience in meeting a number of legislative and
administrative requirements, and learnt about a number of other elements such as duty of
care, and mandatory reporting. This ensures that I not only have an understanding of
professional ethics and responsibilities, but have practical experience in how to ensure I am
correctly complying with these and a number of other legislative requirements.
Family-school partnerships are agreed by researchers to be essential in achieving positive
student outcomes (Daniel, 2015; de Brune et al., 2014), and the ability to engage with
parents/carers is a vital part of a teachers role. Through placement I have sought to engage
with not only parents/carers in a meaningful way, but the wider school community as well.
Through volunteering I have integrated myself into a school community and worked with the
teaching network to better student learning. I truly believe that meaningful and consistent
engagement with parents/carers is essential in ensuring not only a students academic
success, but their happiness and wellbeing also.

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References

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