Final blog post….it’s been emotional

Tiredness.

Stress.

Fear.

Entertaining (well that mainly me)

Relentness.

Stretching and challenge.

Thought provoking.

Life changing.

The PGCE has been all these, and to be fair so much more. It’s been an a rollercoaster of a ride with more ups than downs – so I can’t really grumble or moan I suppose.

So with deadline looming, not that I’m counting but it’s 27 hours and 40 minutes away now, it’s time to log off. Close the curtains, drink another 12 cans of diet red bull (got to watch the waistline), batton down the hatches and finish off the last few bits.

Thanks for everyone who made – contributed to this years cohort.

All that hard work will pay off for all of us.

It’s been worth every bit of pressure and stress.

27 hours 39 minutes….

Bye for now.

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Timetable / format of observations 2014/2015

Following the observation process outlined within this reflective blog, below is the final confirmation of the observation number, the type of observation, grade received and the date the observation was completed.

All observations quoted/referenced within this blog are based upon the timetable shown below.

Observation timetable

Observation timetable

Seventh observation – mentor post observation 05/05/2015

Reflective post observation write up, based upon Gibb’s reflective cycle (1988).

Description

The session reflected upon was an assignment workshop. Learners during this session were taking ownership of their own work by setting individual targets. Within this session all seven members of the group were present.

Feelings

In this last observation there was a feeling of conclusion and finalisation. It also provided a feeling of individual reflection – as it was the end of the qualification. This was a time to look back at the personal developments that had transformed and moulded over time to be the teaching standards now provided.

There was a feeling that this session had been prepared with more time and effort allocated to sections throughout to develop all areas. Following the observation there was a sense of achievement and relief. The result had been worked towards since starting the course. It was a culmination of hard work, dedication and working upon the targets identified within previous observation.

Evaluation

The developments within this and the last observation overall score has increased from two to one. This has seen a consistent growth and development of the level of teaching delivered. This shows a positive influence of the observation process and how the targets set have influenced the observation result.

The plenary during the revised assignment workshop requires further development. Butt (2008) identifies that this time should be used to reflect and clarify achievements with the session. Having revised the assignment progress sheet during this review it was slow in pace and needed student lead input to be successful. Overall the update of the progress sheet allowed for the foundations that the session were built upon to be enhanced. This provided learners with a formative assessment tool so to assist with their tracking and identify where interventions were required (Fisher & Frey, 2007).

The lesson plan was also constructed to a high standard. This allowed for differentiation to be identified during the session and the ability to track learners throughout Petty (2015).  Lesson planning in previous sessions had not been clear with such information and had impacted overall grades. The planning and use of differentiation within the session allowed for all learners to work in conjunction with the tutor and raise their own levels of ability (Evans, 2013). This was through the use of individual SMART target setting and personal tracking of work completed to date.

The use of the Blackboard Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) also provides consistent support that learners could rely upon outside of the classroom. O’Donoghue (2010) notes that through the use of such methods students are encouraged to promote independent learning. This enables learning to take ownership for their own work to motivate and engaged to learn (Hodson, 2015).

Analysis

The group dynamic could have affected the session. Attendance can be low within this cohort – which can lead to a lack of concentration and potential lower grades (Usher, 2014). This requires behaviour management techniques to motivate and aspire learners, to work harder and for each other (Linsin, 2010).

As this was the final observation the need to achieve the highest grade possible to show ability was a positive influence. This is defined by Deci & Ryan (2013) as intrinsic motivation – as it was driven by the need for competence and self-determination. The impact on the learners from this was that they were provided an organised, energetic classroom with a variety of content and resources.

Conclusion

This observation could have been improved by trialling the use of the plenary before this session. This could have kept the pace to the correct standard and not slowed the activity. It should have followed the layout of the assignment progress sheet which used. Petty (2001) notes that the use of experimental activities can confuse learners and impact the progress made.

The format of the lesson plan, the layout of the SMART session objectives and the stretching and challenging of learners are all elements which will be carried forward into future sessions.

For future sessions the taking of the register will be at the beginning of the session. For health and safety purposes these details should be collected.

To gain and maintain a grade one observation can only be achieved through conducting critical reflections, identifying areas for improvement and create actions to improve these areas.

Action plan

Following this reflective process areas for improvement/ development have been identified and added into the ILP.

Sixth observation – tutor post observation 29/04/2015

The personal reflection for the session is based upon the Gibbs (1988) reflective cycle.

Description

The observation was of the level one learners during an introductory session to the new unit to be delivered. The session covered learning outcome one of the unit (appendix). Learners were conducting group work discussions and research. Members of each group had been identified and allocated based upon diagnostic results and behavioural attributes.

Feelings

The session was delivered to a high standard which began with preparation and planning. This allowed for a more relaxed feel to the session as all aspects had been practices and checked the previous day.

Following the completion of the observation there was huge sense of pride as the culmination of hard work and progress was shown within the session. This was also mixed with relief as it was the final tutor observation.

From the position of the tutor, I was also proud of the learners for showing their ability and potential whilst the observer was in the room.

Evaluation         

Overall all elements of the observation worked well. The appetizer activity allowed for the embedding of numeracy, literacy and group work whilst also incorporating a recap of the previous session.

The session also showed flexibility of the subject topic to be delivered. The objectives which were set were achieved and identified through the review of the session. Additional aspects which were included in the lesson plan were not conducted – due to time restrictions. The ability to be able to change to the situations within the classroom is a key aspect to be becoming a successful teacher (Kelly, 2015).

The layout of the room was an area which worked well – as learners were able to conduct group tasks with space and the equipment required. This was achieved through the use of pre-planning of group sizes and the layout of the tables within the room. This enabled groups of learners to be split across the room to limit and prevent any potential confrontation occurring (Eyster & Martin, 2010).

Planning also worked well, and timing added to each objective task was clear and concise. The timings were good and allowed for various tasks to be used to keep learners motivated, whilst providing praise and positive attention (Saxby, 2015).

Questioning which has also improved through the observation and mentor process also worked well with this session. Learners were never provided answers – but provided different questions or versions to extract the answer from them. This also provided opportunities for peer discussion and sharing of ideas whilst enabling ownership for own learning (Haynes, 2012).

The plenary at the end of the session was also timed well and enabled additional questioning to take place. The focus for this has been the use of learning ladder style cards, named Blooming Gavin. This is the incorporation of Blooms taxonomy questions with a humours photograph.

This has been used within sessions over a duration of time with this group. As written by Butt (2008) with the importance of which to check understanding and the completion of the session objectives.

Analysis

The targets and areas for improvement identified during previous observations had been worked upon and embedded into the session.  The process of observations has improved the way in which I deliver content. The grades provided have gradually improved since the initial observation, through the implementation of the feedback points provided.

The layout of the lesson also provided structure for learners to see the format and purpose of the lesson with objectives pre-written and viewable throughout the session (Beadle, 2007). Objectives were revisited and marked off to show development and progress made.

Improving note taking and assessment methods through the use of adapted class specific pre-printed sheets has also worked well with learners. This ensures learners make the relevant notes and provides an assessment method through which understanding can be checked (Morrison, 2010).

This cohort group have developed and grown through the PGCE course. The respect has grown and developed within the group (appendix) this has created a welcoming friendly environment. This can be encouraged through learners looking forward to and have high expectations of the lesson that will be delivered (Linsin, 2011).

The learning style of the group has grown within a behaviourist approach, where learners approach has been a “blank slate”. The style and learning method has been directed from influences of the tutor and the learning environment – through class contracts and the standards implemented (McLeod, 2013).

The learning environment has become an enjoyable area (appendix) where learners feel free to ask questions and stretch and develop through the tasks set. This has helped learners to feel comfortable and develop their knowledge and skills through

Conclusion

The set up and preparation is a factor which will be continued. The time spent on checking the room and the facilities available allowed for no technical or functional errors to occur.

To ensure the same level of outcomes in future sessions there will be a requirement to embed the assessment tracking methods used are of the same standard. The structure of the future lessons will also include objectives which incorporate differentiation for the variety of learners within the session.

Overall what can be taken from this observation is a self-belief in the teaching ability and style which I conduct, as a grade one was achieved. This will provide motivation, direction and improve personal performance heading into the first full year of practice (Belschak & Den Hartog, 2008).

Action plan

To be prepared and focused for future sessions there are specific targets to be implemented, in particular for the first year of my own practice. For the ILP (appendix X), target areas for improvement have been identified as:

  • Develop questioning to stretch higher level learners;
  • Develop the use of constructive feedback;
  • Lesson plans show further stretching and progression for high level learners; and
  • Develop learner feedback to strengthen employability skills.

To enhance and improve upon these development points, discussions and meetings will be held with mentor and tutors. These targets will be taken into the first year of teaching, where all the information and guidance provided will be required to adjust to responsibilities and requirements of the position (Ripp, 2014).

Fifth observation – mentor post observation 28/04/2015

Reflective post observation write up, based upon Gibb’s reflective cycle (1988).

Description

This observation was the first to use this cohort of level three learners. The session began with only two learners present, with an additional late. This provided opportunities for one to one support, but did restrict the appetizer activity developed for the session.

Feelings

Following the observation there was a sense of hope and to work towards the grade one target. This was through concise clear feedback during. The method of receiving feedback had also developed – to be more open and receptive to ideas to change and improve practice. This had altered through the observation processes as I had become less hostile and accepting that it is not possible to be correct all the time (Williams, 2013). For professionalism it enables me to actually work towards best practice by discussing with and accepting peer feedback and review – a requirement of the Education Training Foundation teaching standards (2014). Learners benefit as they take part within more structured and higher level sessions aimed at motivating and aspiring learning to take place.

Following the observation there was that progress was being made. The grade two was a good high level and validated the previous grade two gained. With the sections identified for progress it also allowed for a realistic target of obtaining a grade one in the last observation.

Evaluation

The lesson objectives adapted from the previous observation still require further development to be SMART. Savage (2015) notes the requirement for clear lesson objectives and outcomes as they form part of effective lesson planning. The objectives within this session could not track and assess differentiation – as they did not include how the objectives would be measured or assessed for achievement.

The plenary will be improved as the progress sheet is developed and made relevant for the cohort group. Brown (2009) identifies that the plenary is equally as important as the main activities of the lesson. This is used to check learning and understanding of the session content. During the observation this element should have been checked with the learner to assess progress and understanding.

Learners within the session set their own targets on post it notes. This is used to allow learners to work to their own pace and ability whilst taking ownership for their work. During the observation it was noted that the individual targets should have been followed up and checked for progress during the session.  The importance of this is that student set targets may not stretch and challenge them for the time available (Leyden, 2014).

Analysis

Without implementing differentiation into lesson planning hindered the session. Tomlinson (2014) identifies that without this element it does not provide an inclusive classroom where learners are able to learn and develop.

The lack of students in the session did hinder the planned delivery and pace. Timings were not applicable as so few students were present. Questioning was conducted but group discussions could not be conducted to encourage or develop further. With this it did show flexibility in the approach of teaching and adaption to the room which is an important trait for any teacher to hold (Benson & Kiegaldie, 2003).

Conclusion

One aspect which could have been changed was the assignment progress sheet. Although implemented within previous sessions learners had not used the sheet to the best of ability or use. This could be due to a lack of clear instruction and guidance – causing confusion or misunderstanding (McQuerry, 2012). In future this may require taking additional time in sessions to explain and check understanding of assessment documents.

Further guidance or information prior to the observation could have been gained from peers to check that the lesson plan and objectives were SMART. This could have provided guidance to create content more applicable and suited to the lesson requirements.

The timings of the observations could have been spaced further apart to so work upon developmental points and improvement areas.

Action plan

Through the observation process additional ILP targets have been created  One of the main targets will be to develop the assignment progress sheet to ensure it is fit for purpose. Through these targets the overall aim will then be to progress the grade two to a grade one in the next observation.

Fourth observation – mentor post observation 25/03/2015

After the visit please attach your reflections on the comments made by the observer. Please consider the following:

·         How do you feel the session went?

·         What are your views about the strengths identified?

·         What are your thoughts about the development points?

·         What have you learned as a result of the observations?

·         How do you intend to change your approach in future lessons?

 

Reflective post observation write up, based upon Gibb’s reflective cycle (1988).

Description

The session was delivered to a high standard, with all learners present and responsive to the guidance and direction provided. The session as an assignment workshop provided an opportunity for learners to work independently. Within this session a seating plan was now in place, allowing for classroom management to be handled and controlled more effectively.

Feelings

During this session there was a feeling to show progression and development had been made. This was to show a sense of progression and development, as well as the requirement to prove to the observer’s true ability.

Following the observation there was a sense of pride and professional achievement as I had improved in grade criteria. Although not a grade one it has shown how I had developed through the use of the observation and critical reflective process.

Evaluation

Various assessment methods were used during the observation. They were used throughout the session as written by Gadsby (2012), to ensure learners were clear about what they were learning – and why. The target setting cards were used for learner differentiation by identifying that they all needed to work to their own pace and requirements (McCarthy, 2014). An additional review topic card was used as part of the session plenary. This forms part of the overall tracking and checking of learning. It does need to be allocated more time in future sessions to be more affective and to allow for stretching and challenging questions to be incorporated. Learners will benefit from this as identified by Tobin (1986) the time allocated to learning tasks is one of the most influential variables to impact learning. The concept was identified as a “good idea”.

Assessment methods need to be fit for purpose and used to allow for students to learn, which is the primary focus of anyone within education (Ronan, 2015). The use of too many can cause learners to be confused and disengaged with the session content.

The use of feedback to learners could have been improved to provide more structure and to be more constructive. Duffy (2013) identifies that through the use of constructive feedback learners are provided structured and measured information which can be used to motivate and inspire. This would also benefit learners by providing them with more relevant useful feedback to improve and develop. This could have been used more efficiently had lesson timings been used correctly and the amount of session content reduced.

Incorporated into the start of the session and discussed with learners – the objectives created the foundation for the learning to take place. The use of objectives within the session provides structure and information to guide learners. Dean (2012) notes that they are used to ensure learners journeys within the classroom are purposeful and set clear messages to learners of the focus and direction to be undertaken. The requirement to be SMART objectives allows for the tutor to envisage and assess learners through the session. This is used to track and observe progress made whilst checking understanding (Gough, 2009).

Pace is an aspect identified to be developed. The use of it within the observation slowed down the learning, causing learners to be distracted and bored. Rastegar, et al (Rastegar, et al., 2012) identifies this can lead to poor retention, demotivation and learners not developing and retaining the information required during the session. Within the session it is important to identify that as the tutor the pace and the tone of can be controlled to best affect. Kaufhold (2002) notes that this is an element which is a key tool that can be used to prevent learning losing interest.

The support provided to learners was of an excellent standard. This was through one to one feedback and dialogue with learners within the session. Independent learning was also supported with the use of the Blackboard online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). With this Smith Harvey & Chickle-Wolfe (2007) writes that learners are provided strategies and methods of how to work independently. The use of such a teaching style provides learners with a sense of achievement and independence – which are key transferrable business skills (Watson, 2003). The embedding of such employability skills is important with the FE sector. Kelly & Melograno (2004) identifies these as the hidden curriculum which tutors deliver to embed values and skills to learners for employment and life.

Analysis

The overall influence upon this observation was planning. Through a lack planning for inclusivity and differentiation it impacted the foundations of the lesson and the tracking and assessing of the learners. This lesson plan layout was new and different to previous ones, which identified by (Engin & Priest, 2014) is not something which should be attempted in an observation.

The over use of the assessment methods was from the requirement to show and identify to the observers the wide range of skills and methods I had developed since the previous observation (Bracher, 2014).

Conclusion

The feedback and monitoring of progress so far has provided a progression with observation grading. This has shown an improvement from a grade three to grade two within this sessions.

The use of the observation process has provided critical analysis from which key teaching skills and abilities have been tailored and developed. For learners this has provided enhanced learning environments and structured formalised sessions – from which they can learn and develop more as an individual.

Action plan

Following this observation targets can be set to be implemented into future practice. The main focus will to improve the quality and planning process of lesson plans. This will be to embed differentiation and allowing planning of assessment methods used during the session. For the next observation the target will be to maintain the grade two obtained – to show consistency and build further towards a grade one.  These will be added into the ILP.

 

Please comment on the impact your teaching has had on your learners. You may refer to further activities planned for them, or how this session builds on previous teaching.

·         Learners have been conducted the unit for 6 previous weeks

·         Learners have become more capable within sessions. They have become trusting within sessions

·         This session builds further upon the role of an administrator and how the various types of information they will hold or potential deal with during work

·         The sessions are aimed at providing real life experiences and scenarios which are effective and useful

 

 

 

Fourth observation – tutor post observation 25/03/2015

The personal reflection for the session is based upon the Gibbs (1988) reflective cycle.

Description

The session was an assignment workshop. Learners were working individually to achieve the assignment brief by the deadline date . This was the third assignment workshop, with learners tracking their own progress with assignment progress sheets individually and as a group with a SMART board scatter graph.

Feelings

Within this observation I had a feeling of wanting to prove ability and show what I could achieve as a teacher. The previous observations had not reflected this. There was also a sense pressure release as I had felt more prepared. The room had been set up with hand outs and objectives put in position at the beginning of the morning.

Within this dual observation there was a lot of nervousness and self-imposed stress. This was because of the pressure I had put placed upon myself to achieve and show a high level of ability (Barid MD, 2010).

The use of ICT was also embedded well, having felt previously that other methods trialled such as Padlet did not work as well with level one learners. Within previous sessions ICT had been used without trialling first with learners to test suitability and use.  The SMART board provided an opportunity for learner interaction with emerging ICT within the room. Identified by Mikre (2011) this provides and preparation for the use of future technology within the workplace.

Following the observation there was also a sense of relief as the observation had gone well. The lesson structure and elements were present, but required further scrutiny and planning to become more effective.

Evaluation

At the beginning of every session learners are welcomed, greeted and invited into the room. Hramiak & Hudson (2011) identify this as an important part of managing the classroom and asserting a sense of authority.

The managing of the classroom was also shown to have improved. Any general mis-behaviour was dealt with promptly and effectively. Learners, working individually were in the specified seating plan layout. This had been implemented for several weeks and had assisted in managing the behaviour and attention of the learners in sessions. As written by Lever (2011), it had also enabled low level disruption to be minimal.

The pitch of the session was at times too quick, and at others too slow. This was due to the type of activities used and implemented in the session. Due to timings not being accurate and too much content the areas which needed the most time spent on them were rushed (Keller, 2014).

This included the plenary, where due to too many assessment methods being used and not enough time was spent to stretch and challenge. The plenary, as written by Brooks, et al. (2012)  should also be a time where I am able to ask questions, develop feedback and obtain more information from learners to conclude and check learning effectively.

The assignment target cards which had been implemented in previous sessions had started to work well with learners. The cards allowed learners to take ownership for their own workloads and incorporating differentiation – by allowing learners to work at their own pace (Hobson, 2015).

The embedding of functional skills could also have been improved. Questions which were asked for the appetizer could have been expanded further to include further literacy and numeracy based questions.

Analysis

The use of assessment is required for learners, but too many were used within this session. The use of formative assessments within session should be specific and embedded through the session to check that the learning outcomes have been achieved (Ronan, 2015). Confusion of the use of assessment methods and a want to show the range of assessment methods that could be used to the observers was identified as the reasons why this occurred.

The personal observation process I had been through, and the development points raised had assisted with the way in this observation was conducted. The areas for improvement had been worked upon during discussions with mentor and teaching peers. There had also been a variety of observations I had conducted with other tutors, which provided a different point of view and elements of good practice to embed in future session.

I had also taken responsibility for own actions and accepted areas which needed to be improved upon. Previously there was hostility with the feedback provided. This should have been accepted more freely, as it has been used to inspire and develop practice (Daum, 2013).

Conclusion

From this experience there was a lot of positives to take. The observation grade was consistent from previous sessions, which allowed for a step forward to be taken in the grading procedure.

For future practice I will take the confidence gained into the next observation. I will also use the method in which preparation was conducted. This enabled resources to be readily available and tested prior to learners entering the room.

The benefits for learners from this process has seen more structure to lessons they receive, with clearer objectives. Lessons have become in line with the national criteria and levels set and implemented by OfSTED grading standards to develop to an outstanding teaching level (Nutt, 2014).

Action Plan

To continue to improve method in which assignment workshops are conducted, I will speak to colleagues to obtain different opinions and points of view.

Following the conclusion of the dual observation process, the areas identified for improvement will be incorporated into the ILP as SMART targets . The targets are:

  • Create lesson plans which include differentiation and all planning aspects incorporated;
  • Ensure objectives set are SMART
  • To restrict and improve the use of assessment methods used in sessions; and
  • Objectives not the agenda list are reviewed at the end of the session.