Professional Development Within the Lifelong Learning Sector Essay

Within the Essay I will be discussing Professionalism within my role as a Childcare Tutor for Lifeskills Solutions. I will be defining Professionalism within the Lifelong Learning Sector and discussing what constitutes Professional characteristics and attitudes relating to my own Professional standards. The Essay will also discuss teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector as a dual profession and will evaluate the changing status of further education. The Essay will highlight the connection between Professionalism and Reflective Practice.

I will be identifying the importance of reflection and identifying three models of reflection and will be relating them to my own practice as a Reflective Practitioner. To support the identification of the Reflective models I will be using one model to show how I used the model to change the effectiveness of an activity undertaken within my Childcare Level 1 classroom sessions. To be a Professional within your job role according to Jocelyn Robson (2006) relates to three components including the individual having a high level of professional knowledge relating to their subject and how they teach.

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Robson (2006) recognises that professional’s within the Lifelong Learning Sector are Dual Professionals, Professionals within their vocation, as well as education. Within the three components Professionalism is identified as having autonomy where behaviour is handled consistently and appropriately to maintain high standards of teaching and learning. “Professionalism results as a consequence of setting high standards by maintaining appropriate specialist knowledge, and by shared values”. (Roffey-Barentsen and Malthouse (2009), Page 14).

Liz Beaty’s (2000) Ethical Principles of Professional behaviour echoes Jocelyn Robson’s (2006) three components. The Principles identify the characteristics of Professionals as responsibilities related to their knowledge and experience, which enables them to be able to be an expert in their subject as well as be pedagogically competent. The Professional within the Lifelong Learning Sector should be able to facilitate learning, behave respectful and treat learners as individuals, maintaining an open, honest and positive approach which can motivate, however is sensitive to the learner’s views and opinions.

The Professional is identified as having a relationship with the learner which is focused on the pedagogical needs of the learner and their academic requirements. To be able to up hold the Principles of Professionalism provided by Beaty (2000) the Professional needs integrity and to work to the Codes of Conduct which are laid down by the Professional Body and educational establishment. Avis et al (2010) identifies a definition of a Professional being one where an individual is a member of a Professional Body such as the Institute of Learning.

This puts into question the recent decision to make membership of the Institute of Learning as voluntary as being damaging to the integrity of Professionals within the Lifelong Learning Sector. My own attitude and believe in my role within Lifeskills Solutions forms the basis of my Professionalism. I approach my teaching with the philosophy of wanting to help young people to improve their quality and perception of their futures, having confidence in their ability to achieve and be successful.

I teach young people aged 16 to 18 years, therefore I help the learners to gain the understanding of how learning is a lifelong process and that they can be successful and achieve. To be able to uphold these principles I ensure that I am always respectful, I treat learners with dignity and consideration. The personal development of my learners is also my responsibility and therefore I educate learners regarding equality and diversity topics to help them to gain respect and consideration for other people’s backgrounds, cultures and religious practices.

I challenge behaviour which can be considered discriminative, whilst be respectful to the religious and cultural views of all the learners as I believe it is my responsibility to improve learners ability to accept others. There are constraints to the Professionalism of Tutors which Randle and Brady (1997) identifies as the managerialism where the management of Lifeskills Solutions introduces policies and practices which can compromise the Professional integrity of the Tutor.

Within Lifeskills Solutions practices such as enrolling learners on different qualifications due to the increase in financial gain for the training provider, takes away the focus and aim of the training provider from its true purpose. According to Eraut (1995) refection is central to being a Professional and to be able to continue to display the Professional Characteristics and uphold the principles of professionalism, Tutors need to take their professional development very seriously. As part of a Tutors develop reflective practice is a major role.

Hillyer (2005) identifies that the reason for using reflective practice is to improve performance. The cycle enables the teacher to understand the teaching practice and learn from the impact of the experience for the learner’s progress, as agreed by Osterman and Kottkamp (1993): “Reflective practice is all about thinking about an experience with a view to gaining an improved understanding of that experience, and involves an ordered, systematic and documented approach with a view to gaining self-improvement” (Osterman and Kottkamp (1993) P. 9) The model introduced by David Kolb (1988), Appendix A, identifies four stages which include the teacher undertaking the teaching of the session, reflecting upon that session the researching and reading or discussing with other tutors and then planning the next session, Reece and Walker (2006) promoted the importance of this way of reflecting for new teachers in particular due to their need to gain support to improve their practice. This model is of particular interest to me as it is model which I have used to cover the first starting to teach my programme of Foundation Learning.

Bolton (2005) describes how teachers can start using the Kolb model at any stage. Bolton (2005) confirms how teachers can start with the “Read” stage if they had not taught the session before. This is reflective of how I used the model and continue to use this model as I develop my teaching and appropriateness of my sessions. “Essentially it means that the teacher, as learner, takes responsibility for his or her own learning… the main thrust of this system is that you take responsibility for yourself. (Roffey-Parentsen and Malthouse” (2009) Page 7). Tummons (2007) highlights how the Kolb’s model provides the teacher with the opportunity to utilise the assistance and support from other tutors and colleagues which makes the model effective for the teachers continuing professional development which is a concept which I am familiar with particularly within the supportive framework of Lifeskills Solutions where a supportive network of tutors who share my specialist subject and are able to provide guidance and advice from on a regular basis.

The model identifies the process through different stages and from the first introduction to the model the stages can be quite confusing, due to the names of the stages, as it appears to be a more theoretical approach to reflective practice, however the simplicity of the stages within the cycle makes it more manageable and appropriate to the way in which I reflect and evaluate my sessions. Gibbs (1988) introduced a model, (Appendix B), which was similar to Kolb’s experiental learning cycle.

The cycle by Gibbs (1988) follows the same process as Kolb’s model, with similar stages however the Gibbs cycle goes into more detail with sections included such as “Feelings” which identifies the cycle as a more humanist approach, where the Practitioner is encouraged to consider the feelings of those involved. Another session included in Gibbs cycle relates to the “Conclusion” section which entails a separate consideration of what they have found from the process before designing the action plan for the improvements to be included for the process to begin again.

I feel that due to the additional sections of the cycle that it slows down and complicates the process. Schon (1983) introduced an approach to reflective practice called “Reflection in Action”. This refers to a person who is forced to start thinking on their feet as they find what they are doing is not working as well as they had hoped. Within my teaching this as appeared most appropriate process due to teaching young learners who can be in different moods or different situations may occur which I need to handle, therefore this process is most appropriate to my teaching.

For instance I have had situations where I have played an activity where the learners are to approach the SMARTboard to write answers on the board or to reveal answers, but all the learners refuse to participate. The process shows how the tutor reflects and implements new strategies of teaching to keep the session on track and to encourage the learner’s cooperation. Appendix C identifies the process of reflection in action.

The process includes the reflection of what happened after the session where the Tutor will reflect upon what happened and consider why it happened and they will make an evaluation of if it was anything which they can change so that it does not happen again. Examples of solutions may be the layout of the classroom, the activities not being interactive enough or the learners needing more variety of learning strategies and resources to be included. During my own reflection of teaching practice I use the Kolb 1988) cycle of experiential learning: The table below shows how I have used one activity from the teaching of the Craft Activities for young Children module of the CACHE (Level 1) Certificate in Caring for Children. Activity: The learners are asked to use specific websites to locate 3 craft activities for each of the age ranges (under 6 months, 6 – 12 months and 3 to 5 years) and then are asked to describe the activities and identify what the educational benefits are of participating in the activities. Concrete Experience| This is when the activity was undertaken with the Tutor supporting the Learners throughout the activity.

Reflective Observation

The Tutor reflects upon what happened during the activity:The activity identified that the learners were unfamiliar with how to describe the activity and did not know what information was important to include in their explanations and how to word it. It became apparent that the learners needed further guidance on what the description needed to include and how to compose the descriptions. Abstract Conceptualisation| Using the evaluations from the session (Reflective Observation section), I gained advice and guidance from another Tutor, I researched how to break down the task into smaller tasks so that the Learners can develop the skills needed to complete the task. Therefore I planned a small activity which was designed to teach learners how to use descriptive text. The learners were given toys to describe and were coached through the process of describing the toy. Active Experimentation | Once I have designed an activity to develop learner’s descriptive writing skills, I undertook this activity with the learners to test out their reaction to the process of description and whether this activity helped them to learn to describe. After the practice it showed that the learners had a greater awareness of how to write descriptively and therefore the activity was incorporated in to the session.

The process mentioned above identified that the teaching of skills needed to complete work should be the focus rather than the production of the piece of work. I needed to ensure that the learners had gain subject awareness to be able to pick out a craft activity, was I sure that all the learners understood what a craft activity was. Do the learners understand what they need to include in the description of the craft activities. It is mportant, therefore, that I reflect upon how I have taught the childcare knowledge they need for the task prior to the task being undertaken. Discusses with my Mentor identified that I needed to undertake a recap to learning regarding their understanding of craft activities prior to working on the skills needed to complete the task. When I consulted my Mentor it became apparent that I needed to slow down the learning process to ensure that the learners understood how to undertake a task prior to starting the main task.

With the activity regarding describing the toys the learners learnt how to describe by picking out the naming words and using these to construct simple sentences which can describe the object. The Tutor helped me to look at the task from the learner’s perspective. It made me think about how I word my explanations and how I present the tasks to them. My Mentor also related to the learning styles of my learners and reminded me about the importance of meeting all these styles.

Consulting the Mentor also highlighted the need for repetition of tasks and demonstration prior to the learners trying out the process independently. The consultation opened up many changes which I am making to my approach to teaching skills to the learners. I am now incorporating a process of skillbuilding and practice which learners will undertake prior to the completion of the work. In conclusion, I have identified a definition of professionalism in the lifelong learning sector as an individual being an expert in their subject and their teaching practice.

I have discussed the difficulties which professionals face in relation to the status that Teachers in the Lifelong learning sector have as well as managerialism constraints. I have identified the connection between professionalism and reflective practice. I have identified 3 models of reflective practices and have discussed how these relate to my own practice. I have then taken Kolb’s (1988) cycle and shown how I used this cycle to implement change and have evaluated the effectiveness of this process.