Week 2

Video Summary

I reviewed the 2013 video, STEM Your School, as part of this assignment. The video highlighted the importance of integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) in the curriculum beginning in Kindergarten through high school. The common thread throughout the video was connecting each subject with STEM. Each classroom was organized in small groups facilitated by co-teachers. There are examples of reflective teaching throughout the video. One teacher commented on using mistakes as teachable moments. This thought process can be incorporated in teaching students to see problems as opportunities to do things differently. I am not sure if I am supposed to write from one of the teachers’ perspectives in the video or a personal experience, so I choose the latter. Shortly before the COVID 19 pandemic canceled in-class instruction, I taught a class on branding. There is no formal testing, so homework is an important assessment tool. The homework was for each participant to create an idea for a brand and present it to the class the following week. In the next class, each participant presented their idea except one. He had the best design idea, but he said he did not feel comfortable with public speaking. I spent a few minutes trying to encourage him but soon found myself becoming angry with him. This is the one experience that I keep coming back to when I think about how it could have been handled differently.

How has reading about reflective practice affected you, and how has this changed your beliefs about the ways you teach?

In his book, Becoming a Reflective Practitioner, Johns (2017) advocates journaling as a dialogical tool for enabling reflection (22). This approach’s premise is that journaling forces the individual to deliberately set aside time and resources to reflect on his /her performance and be self-critical. This exercise allows for the examination of events, feelings, and preconceptions that accompany an action. Documenting them provides a history that can be interrogated and applied to making improvements in future efforts. My observation of the reading, so far, is that reflective teaching is the practice of learning by doing. It provides a safe space for teachers to look at a mistake or an unplanned event, learn from it, and apply that knowledge in the future. In an earlier chapter, Johns refers to this as a contradiction (p. 3). Instead of relying on memory, journaling creates a document that portrays the event and its reactions more accurately.

Some of the examples in the reading celebrate journaling as cathartic (p. 30). Reflection appears to have similar therapeutic benefits to mindfulness (p. 8), and journaling improves higher-level functions (p. 30). Journaling allows one to express ideas and thoughts that would otherwise remain locked away or forgotten. In the past, I have written notes to myself after teaching a class, but I never considered it journaling. After completing the reading assignment, I feel that journaling is something worth expanding. Aside from notes on things I may have left out or suggestions to improve things the next day, I could add information on how the class went. The reading has shown me that teaching should be more deliberative and less mechanical. Referring to the branding homework experience, I believe that journaling could have allowed me to document different ways to handle this situation.

What specific parts of the readings changed, or did not change, how you think about your teaching?

On the previous assignment, I identified the indicator, Observes self in the process of thinking, on the Larrivee Survey of Reflective Practice (2008).  Johns suggests that journaling provides a path to becoming more self-aware and attentive to one’s environment (p. 32). In another section, the author says that writing helps us break free of our habitual ways of seeing (p. 23). I believe that forming a journaling habit predisposes one to be more deliberate with one’s actions because they know that those actions will become part of a journal. In other words, if I know that I am going to make notes about my day, I will be more mindful of the things I do and assess them more frequently.

How will what you have learned change or not change the way you approach teaching?

The descriptive phase of The Models for Structured Reflection (MSR) states that response is linked to intent (p. 38). Having reviewed the video and reflected on my experience, I can make structural changes in the way I need to teach. The reflective phase of the MSR guides one to dissect decisions and their associated actions in the context of achieving a positive outcome. I believe that it is necessary to align desired results with intentions, meaning I should be more mindful of how I respond.  

Were you effective in terms of consequences for others and yourself?

Johns labels the conflict between the expectations of self and others’ expectations as influencing factors (p. 41). He attributed these factors to habits that are reinforced daily by tradition and practice (p. 43). A code of ethics and a positive attitude are essential social tools, but conflicts will always arise.  After completing the reading and reflecting on the homework incident, I feel that I was not effective in terms of consequences for others or myself.

What factors influenced your response?

The factors that influenced my response were the expectation from myself and others. My expectations in the homework incident were that the student would feel proud to show his classmates how great a job he did. His expectations of me, I would assume, was that I should have respected his desire for privacy. Johns points out that a conflict of values is the primary cause of contradictions (p. 41).

How were you feeling?

During the incident, my initial feelings were mixed. Initially, I felt proud of the participant but became angry after he refused my request.

How were others feeling?

The participant felt upset about the incident, and some of the other participants did as well.

How does this situation connect with previous experiences?

As a child, I had a problem with cluttering, and I didn’t particularly appreciate speaking in class. I should have connected this experience with the participants.

What would be the consequences of alternative actions for the students and yourself?

As the teacher, I feel that it is my responsibility to provide students with a safe, inclusive environment. This incident disturbs me because I failed to do that. The consequences of my actions were to cause emotional harm to a student.

What Factors might stop you from responding differently?

It is difficult to say what factor(s) would prevent me from acting differently. I have an instinctive propensity to control my environment, so that would be a place to start. I believe that I spend a lot of time running on autopilot, and journaling may be an excellent way to present my decision-making.

How do you now feel about the situation?

I feel that this was a good exercise. I have thought a lot about the student’s situation and have even considered trying to contact him to apologize. This is the first time that I have put my thoughts down on paper, and now I think that maybe I will reach out to him.

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