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Critical reflection and the voice

October 2, 2015 in PGcert

I read a Chapter 2 from Brookfield, S. (1995) Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher.

The first half of the chapter focuses on the methods that you can use to be critically reflective: 1) how you’ve learned in the past shapes how you teach now 2) seeing learning from the point of view of the students 3) learning from colleagues and using them as a ‘critical mirror’ and 4) using theoretical literature (to help ‘teachers from mistakenly blaming their personal inadequacies for situations that are politically created’).

The power of developing your authentic voice stood out most for me, both that of yours and that of your students. I work on how we can help students feel comfortable speaking, particularly in relation to developing employability skills, so this is really interesting for me.

Brookfield says: ‘Feeling the power of one’s voice is fundamentally connected with developing one’s sense of agency’. He also quotes Richert (1992): ‘Agency, as it is described in this model, casts voice as the connection between reflection and action’.

The idea that speaking is about human agency, and helps you catalyse thoughts into action feels quite profound.

Brookfield says that getting feedback from your students is central to understanding your teaching from the point of view of the students. Deborah talked about Ramsden (2003). One of his points is that you first need to understand your students’ experiences of learning.

In both my teaching and digital work, user research and testing is a key process.

Brookfield emphasises the importance of getting feedback anonymously. I collect anonymous feedback in my workshops, as it allows for complete honesty. However, in our discussion group James said that teachers should create an atmosphere where it feels OK for students to contribute criticism, and that dialogue allows for further clarification.

As a result, I’d like to think more about how we create an environment where people feel comfortable sharing what could be done better face to face. This also adds to the idea of creating conditions where all voices can be heard.

One point that seemed to come up strongly was that learning is an ongoing process. Brookfield certainly suggests this, as does Dall’Alba (2005) – she talks about teachers playing an active, collaborative role in their own learning. James said that practice and discipline as a product designer is one in the same, and you couldn’t be a product designer if you weren’t continually learning.

Emmeline felt that her teaching practice was integrated and holistic, when looking at the categories put forward by Shreeve (2008). Emmeline made a very interesting point that her practice is distinct from the advertising course that she teaches on, and how that relates to how you can integrate learning and practice (my work doesn’t always relate to what I teach either).

One final point from Brookfield is that it’s important to understand that curricula is constructed and tentative, and should be questioned. I think this relates to the power your own teaching and voice can help shape external factors.

So the summary from my perspective is: in order to develop your own voice, you can help facilitate other people’s voices, understand other people’s voices to help define your own, and use yours to help shape the environment around you.

Critical reflection and voice

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