This element of the project aims to address the role of the prospective teacher as a learner and researcher within the classroom and beyond. It also seeks to consider how the student can prepare for a wider role within the school, and how they might ultimately assume the role of curriculum leader and come to understand the responsibility that accompanies this role. In particular this element focuses on the importance of reflection, research, using evidence informed data and dissemination of information to inform and improve practice.
As a 'new professional' the newly qualified teacher (NQT) will be increasingly expected to engage in lifelong learning, through analysis and reflection of their practice and that of others; research to ensure evidence informed practice and demonstration of skills that will enable progression through the professional standards. It is important therefore that students understand what is meant by reflection and evaluation of practice and that they are able to critique how this can then be used to inform subsequent teaching and learning. Being aware of the influence that their own beliefs and values have on their approach to teaching and learning, yet being open to the possibility of change is critical in becoming a reflective professional.
Key themes to be considered are:
- the reflective professional;
- practice defined by research;
- practice informed by research;
- practice as research;
- integrating practice and research.
(based on Light and Cox 2001)
As Light and Cox state in their discussion about realizing the reflective professional: 'the realization of practice will need to proceed towards the production of research documentation, for provision of evidence of professional realization, for sharing with colleagues in the best tradition of peer review and for informing and developing ongoing development.' (p.230)
Student teachers therefore need to be conversant with a variety of research skills which can help them to improve practice, widen their knowledge base and adapt to educational change. They also need to recognize the value of disseminating knowledge and information in order to share effective practice.
The GTCE Statement of Professional Values and Practice for Teachers requires that:
Teachers support their colleagues in achieving the highest professional standards. They are fully committed to sharing their own expertise and insights in the interests of the people they teach and are always open to learning from the effective practice of their colleagues.
They understand that maintaining and developing their skills, knowledge and expertise is vital to achieving success. They take responsibility for their own continuing professional development, through the opportunities available to them, to make sure that pupils receive the best and most relevant education. Teachers continually reflect on their own practice, improve their skills and deepen their knowledge. They want to adapt their teaching appropriately to take account of new findings, ideas and technologies.