As a reflection on the observation, the lesson started off well as the students turned up on time and were motivated to work. A new teaching and learning strategy was adopted in which the individual target plans were formulated which were found to be a better substitute to the traditional lesson plans. But Peter was a bit concerned with this new plan as since April 1, 2007 the OfSted is now Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills and hence is responsible for inspection functions which were earlier covered by ALI (Adult Learning Inspectorate) and LSC (Learning and Skill Council). (2007, HCESC) and enquired if this will pass the criteria set by OfSted which received an affirmative response by me. The main drawback with these individual lesson plans is that they do not indicate the learning strategies and the students have to fill them out themselves. The students based on the learning outcomes will then think what they have learnt from that lesson. (Appendix1)
I have made the individual lesson plans and conveyed it to the students. At this stage they all know about the brickwork model in their practical workbooks on which they have to work on. As all the relevant information on the models is on the worksheet provided, the only thing left is to mark their model when it is finished. The models need to be marked accordingly to industrial standards. I myself took responsibility of assessing their work and record it in their workbook. Only one passed after the assessment. I gave enough feedback to the one who failed to make him understand the mistakes he committed. On this feedback and understanding he has to now re-build this particular model and correct his mistakes. The passing criteria was to not commit mistake in the required standards that he failed in his first model and ensure that they are within the tolerance level. For example his plumbing must be within 3mm (Appendix 2 highlighted), when this is within this tolerance then he will pass this particular model. So with the student who failed I went for a different strategy. First, I broke what he had to do down to basics. Then I read him all the tasks that were required to be done to complete the model. Simultaneously as I read the tasks, I also explained him about it. After this he went away and started on the model. The transformation was that he finished quicker and he built a far better model. On reflection I would teach in a different way next time as students if frightened tend to tell you that they understand it, where in fact they do not. Hence, I need to monitor them when they start their models to check that they understood. If the students are struggling then I could see which ones did not understand due to a learning problem.
As the lesson progressed, a student asked me what his next objective is to which I responded by saying ‘wait a minute Vinnie I will come to you in a minute’. Peter pointed out this issue to me and introduced the Argyris and Schon double loop thinking. I realised that this thought would have worked well for Vinnie and as a result he would have had his next task to think over in his mind.
One of the significant features of Model II is its ability to call upon good quality data and to make inferences. It also looks to include the views and experiences of participants rather than seeking to impose a view upon the situation. Theories should be made explicit and tested; positions should be reasoned and open to exploration by others. In other words, Model II can be seen as dialogical (written in the form of a conversation). And more likely to be found in settings and organizations that look to shared leadership.
The Infed website states that “It looks to emphasize common goals and mutual influence, encourage open communication, and to publicly test assumptions and beliefs, and to combine advocacy with inquiry (Argyris and Schön 1996; Bolman and Deal 1997: 147-8)”
On reflection I would implement Arygris and Schon double loop learning in a task building of a 2 brick pier for a plumbing exercise. The students will then go to their stations and after a demonstration and discussion on what is required for this model work on their tasks. After they have completed their task the students would come back to me for assessment in normal circumstances. Since I have a large group of twenty students, thus it will be impossible for me to come to their needs straight away. Hence this way they would lose valuable time.
So after model 1 of Arygris and Schons theory I would introduce model 2 which will introduce the double loop learning. It consists of giving them the task of building a two brick pier and completing it. They would consult their practical work book and set themselves a new task of studying the model themselves and start accordingly in order to complete it.
Within the construction department critical incidents often come to the surface and I am always trying to improve myself and learn different teaching techniques and give the onus to the students and start using their thoughts and ideas. To do this, the brickwork tutor Bob, the curriculum manager Sean and myself have decided to embark on a project interacting more with the students.
We call our work place as “The Slab” which is situated away from the main brickwork department. In the winter months it can become pretty cold and damp due to the weather. Thus, we have decided to put a perimeter wall around the slab to protect us a bit from the adverse weather in the future months.
In one of the team meeting we discussed the situation and the students were involved as well to discuss what is expected of them. Basically they can build what they want but it has to comply what is required in the criteria set down by the governing body. So this means we are giving the students a certain amount of autonomy in their learning, reflecting and evaluating on their own skills and knowledge. Setting out realistic goals or targets, closing the gap on where they are and where they want to be and monitoring the implementation. The students must think and plan how and what they are going to build.
On current developments in teaching and learning I find that a lot of paperwork has become twofold in the last year so to find time to engage with this I will set the students a target to start with regards to Arygris and Schons double loop learning settle them in to their rhythm and bob my tutor can oversee the group. Then I can progress with other tasks checking in on the group over the course of the day.
Reflective journal for observation dated 5/11/07 with
The group I am being observed on is a foundation group from the carpentry department who are in the brickwork workshop. This will lead to their qualification for Level 1 certificate in Basic Construction Skills in Bricklaying awarded by City and Guilds. There are 15 students in this group all 16- 18 year olds.
It was observed that the group after arrival was a bit apprehensive about coming in to an unfamiliar environment. So I quickly put them at ease by introducing myself and the tutor who was assisting me. I explained to them about the simple but stringent health and safety rules practiced here such as if you do not wear safety boots you do not work etc. I then explained the workshop rules and regulations that they must abide to and comply to. Students were then given a chance to ask their questions and were answered subsequently by me. An icebreaker was introduced to the group in order to know more about students as I had no previous knowledge about them. This comprised of easy questions they wanted to ask me about anything. If I couldn’t or did not know the answer then I tried to humour them in the right context which helped to ease their nervousness.
So after all the formalities were over we started with the session. This particular session involved basics like getting set up in the workshop and learning the basics of bricklaying. They also had to build and demonstrate their first brickwork model.
I came across my first problem in couple of hours after beginning of the session. The students were getting a bit frustrated of not able to build the model up to the standards required to pass. So I decided to stop them in their tracks and to put it bluntly I said ‘has anyone heard of the quote Rome wasn’t built in a day’ and surprisingly a couple of students put their hands up so I explained where this quote came from and how it has followed the human race into this day and age.
After calming them down and not seeing any damage done to the resources, the students carried on building their models but I sensed they lacked self esteem. This resulted in putting themselves down always, as if they haven’t achieved anything in their lives. This problem made me think as to how can I resolve this problem with them? One of the first models on reflective practices was developed by Dewey. Dewey (1938) believed that progressive education is necessary for development of any individual. He proposed the theory of experience which is composed of two guiding principles of continuity and interaction. Continuity refers to the future actions due to the experience and interaction is the effect of situations on one’s experience. Thus the learning by a student is dominated by his past and current experiences and thus is determined by the approach adopted by his teacher. The educators can use this understanding of past experiences of a student can develop methodologies which will help him to open up, rather than shut down, which will eventually effect his future growth experiences. In 1983, Schon identified three stages of reflection which are namely conscious, criticism and action reflection. He proposed that the teacher should spend time exploring the reasons for a student’s actions. In this process a new set of questions and ideas about practices are developed which are iterative in nature. Infed website states that “The practitioner allows himself to experience surprise, puzzlement, or confusion in a situation which he finds uncertain or unique. He reflects on the phenomenon before him, and on the prior understandings which have been implicit in his behaviour. He carries out an experiment which serves to generate both a new understanding of the phenomenon and a change in the situation. (Schön 1983: 68)” As a result this model allows the teacher to gain a better control of the situation in the process. Ojanen (1993) from his study showed that the teacher can use reflective practices most effectively by using student’s personal histories, dialogue journals, and small and large group discussion about their experience. Then using these discussions the teacher can help students by making them reflect upon their practices and improve it in process.
The Maslow’s (1908-1970) pyramid based on hierarchy of human needs helped me in gaining a better understanding of the problem related to low self esteem in students.
“Although Maslow’s theory has become tremendously influential, it initially attracted only modest attention. Maslow, undismayed, plunged into exploring the traits of self-actualizing men and women. He believed that only by studying emotionally healthy, achieving people can we really begin to understand our true nature and potential.” By Edward Hoffman an Article in Training Magazine, September 1988, pages 79-82.
Maslow believed that only after all the needs had been satisfied, could an individual acquire the top layer of the pyramid. The layers of this pyramid begin with the most basic human physiological needs such as hunger, thirst and the body’s general well being leading to the top layer of self fulfilment or, as Maslow called it, ‘self-actualization ‘. In between these two layers are the needs of safety, belonging and esteem. Once an individual is more or less content with their basic physiological needs, the second layer of safety and security comes into focus. When this overall structure is in place the third layer begins to manifest itself in terms of the need for loving, caring and affectionate relationships which is exhibited by individual’s desire to marry, be a member or part of a community etc.
“The humanistic school believes that emotional factors, and personal growth and development, are the highest values, and it argues that these are ignored in a society which is unduly materialistic, objective and mechanistic. Humanistic psychologists believe that society, schools and colleges exist to meet the needs of the individual learner, not the other way round” Geoff Petty. (2001)
Following on from this is the fourth layer, the need for self esteem. Maslow argued that is higher of the two needs because once self-respect is gained; he suggested that it was difficult to lose. There exist two forms of self esteem; a higher need and a lower need. The lower need includes respect for others and the need to be respected, status, reputation, appreciation and sometimes dominance. Other higher esteem needs include confidence, achievement, freedom and independence. Thus from Maslow’s theory the self esteem of students can be boosted by making them think for themselves and making them decide on their next task while working on the Slab.
Effect on Learners
All the classes that I teach have similar patterns that all students follow. They all start with their psychomotor skills and progress to their cognitive skills which include the knowledge and understanding of why they are doing something that way (Watson, 1980).
In Maslow’s pyramid he talks about the physiological needs of the student, my own group of students would come under this regime as they need their breaks for comfort, to talk to one another drink and eat. The area that they work is inside they need this to protect themselves from the elements both hot and cold. At the same time this gives them a safe working environment to work in. This is where they can knit themselves into a tight group and feel secure amongst each other i.e.: safety in numbers. Any student who joins the group late would tend to feel isolated. Unless the group took to them quickly they would start to feel insecure and would start to watch how they act around this individual student. The group all need each other. It tends to give them an overall sense of security in their own working environment. This shows up outside the classroom as well, during their breaks they will participate in football and organize themselves into a team where they will play other teams from other groups within the college.
The esteem amongst the group was both high and low. It was observed that most of the group have a need to gain respect from others to achieve that status and recognition. There are a few in the group who already hold that high esteem; they have that self-confidence, freedom and sense of achievement already and I believe they will go on to do a lot more good things in their lives and gain self actualization.
I found out in conversation with a colleague form the carpentry team that one of the students joined the foundation group late and he found it difficult to integrate. This affected his theory work as well as the practical. It was about 2-3 weeks before he settled into the group. He was then able to concentrate on digesting the information rather than worrying about his basic needs being met. He has now progressed well and should achieve a credit.