Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Teaching with Reflective Practice

Teaching with Reflective Practice
By Julie Conlon

Brenda Capobianco, an assistant professor from the Department of Curriculum and Instruction (Purdue University), has written several articles for teachers who wish to become involved in teacher action research. In her article, “Becoming a Reflective Practitioner in Science Education, refers to one of the Indiana science professional standards that is evidence of the teacher as “a reflective practitioner who continually evaluates the effects of his/her choices and actions on others, and who actively pursues opportunities to grow professionally”. This is the basis of teacher action research. Brenda offers a course at Purdue, EDCI 597: Action Research in Science Education, that would improve all teachers’ efforts to become reflective practitioners in their own subjects.
While serving as one of the Outreach Coordinators with the College of Science at Purdue (University), I had the opportunity to observe and mentor teachers through their own teacher action research. Our College of Science Outreach team formed partnerships with school corporations and teachers opted, by choice, to participate. We spent the first two weeks during the summer exploring what Inquiry teaching looks like. Teachers experimented with their ideas during a week-long summer camp with youngsters attending, again by choice. Throughout the following year, teachers worked at “tweaking” their lessons to include additional opportunities for students to become inquiry learners.
To assist teachers in the process, our College of Science Outreach team video-taped teachers 4-6 times through the year presenting their lessons. It was interesting and amazing to watch teachers transform themselves and their techniques throughout the year. At first, they were intimidated and fearful of watching the videos, but warmed up to the idea after learning that we, as their partners, were not there to be critical, but rather to probe with questions and to sit side-by-side with them in watching themselves. Teachers would note so many aspects they just could not notice while presenting—that had to occur from being “outsiders” looking in on their own teaching. Most came up with additional ideas for yet new changes.
I suggest this method “in-house” for teachers who are striving to change their efforts in teaching with arts integration. Why not find others in your building and take turns making videos with one another? And then, find a fun way to share the videos—a popcorn movie party after school to watch and exchange with one another/ Agree to a set of guiding rules—rules that will keep the process safe and inviting of one another’s perspectives.

Editor’s Note: Julie Conlon has a wide range of teaching experience including gifted and talented classroom teacher in middle school, fifth grade science teacher and Outreach Coordinator for the Department of Physics at Purdue University.

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