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EDUC 4206 Professional Experience 4: Teacher as Inquirer

Professional Inquiry Project Report Findings

Pre-service Teacher: Amber Kennedy ID no: 101144619

Context and Focus


This Inquiry Project was undertaken in a reception to year 1 class with a total of 23 students. The ability of
the students ranged from a reception level or just below to year 2 level. Thus, all lessons needed to be
differentiated to suit the needs of the individual learners.
The focus of my inquiry was around content and teaching strategies in the teaching area; specifically, do I
know the content and teaching strategies in the teaching area. This comes under standard 2, knowing the
content and how to teach it. I have chosen this focus because I believed it could be one of my biggest
strengths if I worked at it. This has truly reflected my personal growth as a future teacher.
While acknowledging the importance of all quality areas, content is the basis in which we teach, along with
the recourses and the foundational knowledge that we want our students to learn. Teaching is the ‘doing’,
the pedagogies of all teachers. How I have taught has been just as important as the content in which I have
chosen.
It is vital that teachers know the content so that they can be the ‘more knowledgeable’ other for students
as teachers should be able to answer most of the student’s questions to the best of their ability (Woolfolk
& Margetts 2013).

Design and Data Collection Techniques

Planned Inquiry Process


Before I started my placement block, I used my lead in days to discuss with my mentor how she taught
maths and where she found the resources for her lessons. I discussed with my mentor the different
teaching strategies she used and observed a maths lesson. What I took from these discussions and
observation of my mentor’s teaching was that knowing the content was about doing your own learning
prior, so that you felt confident. The teaching strategies were a bit different as this was something that
although observed was difficult to re-enact.
I had originally chosen some of my own strategies but after the first few lessons, I could see that they were
not suitable for the students. They were used for specific teaching strategies, which I discussed with my
mentor and then implemented.

Data Collection
I collected data using three different techniques, including; receiving feedback from my mentor teacher in
both written and verbal form. While I was teaching, my mentor observed my practice and provided
feedback. Initially I used a feedback proforma provided by the university, but this then changed to better
suit my supervising teacher (See appendix 1). This new feedback proforma that I used, enabled me to
clearly identify my current level of ability and where my strengths and weaknesses were. I was able to see
if my content was appropriate and if my strategies were effective and how.
I used personal reflections (See Appendix 2) to evaluate how I thought my lesson went and after my
lessons my mentor and I would discuss. First I would provide my own analysis of the lesson, then would
discuss if she felt there was anything I had not considered. Initially I was extremely critical of myself and my
practise but with encouragement from my mentor, I have been able to see that just because something did
not work does not mean you did a bad job, it just wasn’t right for the students. This has helped me to see
that not everything needs to change but a simple change in one strategy can make a big difference.
I also sought feedback from a critical friend who read my feedback from my mentor and my personal
reflections and gave another view on what they thought could be improved. The data collected using these
techniques allowed me to improve my abilities in content and teaching strategies.

Data Results and Analysis


For this inquiry I would review the feedback from my mentor and use it to modify the lesson for the
following day. I would look at the suggestions made by my mentor and look at how I could implement
them in my teaching. This was very time consuming, but I believe it was necessary for me to progress.
I made several changes to my teaching strategies over the unit on money however, I did not need to make
any changes to the content. I knew that content changes were not necessary from my own reflections and
those from my mentor. My mentor wrote ‘continuing to show a sound knowledge of the topic and content
and will always go and check anything she is unsure of. This was written feedback from my mentor which
continued through the unit on money.
Teachers should have a clear understanding of the content if they intend on teaching it effectively (AITSL
2016). However, this does not mean that the teacher cannot learn from the students. When students are
engaged, they ask questions as they want to know about what interests them. This has helped me as a
teacher to see what interests are worth delving into in more depth. I was also able to identify if the
content was appropriate by the engagement from the students (in personal Reflections). As a result, the
content was both age/ability appropriate and engaging throughout the unit.
My teaching strategies however did change, the main change was using a more hand’s on approach to
their learning and providing concrete materials. I found that although the students were engaged in the
beginning that they could have been taking more from their lessons. By using the feedback from my
mentor and my own reflections I implemented a more hands on approach using concrete evidence to
extend and deepen their learning. Teaching strategies are methods that teachers use to effectively teach.
They change based on the content and the individual child (Hyde et. al. 2014). A great example of this in
my project inquiry was the first lesson; starting with using Australian coins in the middle of a circle for
students to see, this worked but it caused unproductive behaviours to arise. After reflecting on this with
my mentor, I was able to create a new strategy; by making a set of coins for a pair to share made things
run more smoothly and effectively which meant there was more time to learn the content.

Reflection
As an early childhood teacher, one of the most relevant documents alongside the Australian Curriculum is
the Early Years Learning Framework. When looking at reflection as an educator, it is an ongoing and
continuous practice and for me this has been the reality of my inquiry. “Educators continually seek ways to
build their professional knowledge and develop learning” (Department of Education, Employment and
Work Place Relations [DEEWER] 2009, p.14). Being able to seek professional support from my mentor and
others within the school including the leadership team I have been able to develop my skills and
knowledge throughout my inquiry.
This inquiry has enabled me to accurately determine where my skills are and what improvements are
needed. It is clear to me that I have a solid understanding of the content and how it can be taught, I can
also see that my ability to use different teaching strategies is an area that needs support. Fortunately, over
the course of my unit I was able to seek feedback from my mentor and my critical friend, which enabled
me to reflect and plan using a number of different strategies. If those strategies did not work, I was able to
try again or try something different. Receiving feedback, both written and verbal, was highly beneficial as it
enabled me to critically reflect on my own abilities as a teacher and to see areas of improvement.
According to Tucker (2010), children are captivated and curious, and through mathematics this curiosity
can be encouraged in many ways. This includes open-ended questions and resources and allowing students
time to explore and extend their enquiry. This quote which fostered my inquiry project has opened my
mind as a teacher to the real wonder that children have, their ability to question everything and their need
to understand in a way that benefits them.

Conclusion
Using the feedback from my mentor my personal reflections, and the feedback from my critical friend I can
say that I currently sit at a graduate level in relation to the AITSL standards. I have been able to clearly
demonstrate my ability to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the concepts, substance and
structure of the content and teaching strategies of the teaching area. This has started the foundation of my
continual self-reflection and improvement of my teaching practice, in a way that is critical and enables me
to continuously improve and work my way towards being at lead level.
Reference List

AITSL 2016, Hughie the helicopter, video, YouTube, 17 April, viewed 28 July 2018,
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vaW_-Nldgp0>.

Department of Education, Employment and Work Place Relations (DEEWR) 2009, Being, belonging and becoming,
early years learning framework, Viewed 25 August 2018, <http;//www.education.gov.au>early-years-learning-
framework>.

Hyde, M, Carpenter, L, & Conwa, R 2014, Diversity, inclusion & engagement, Oxford University Press, Australia.

Lyons, G, Ford, M, & Slee, J 2014, ‘Relationships and communication’, Classroom management: creating positive
learning environments, 4th edn, Cengage Learning, South Melbourne, Victoria, pp.42-60.

Tucker, K 2010, Mathematica through play in the early years, 3rd edn, SAGE publications Inc, New delhi

Woolfolk, A & Margetts, K 2013, Educational psychology, 3rd edn, Pearson Education, Frenchs Forest, NSW.

Appendix 1.

Mentor Teacher Feedback


Pre-service Teacher Lesson Observation
Name: Amber Kennedy Subject: Date:

Topic: Mentor Teacher: Alysha King


University: University of South
Australia Duration: single/double School: Playford Primary

Year of study: 4th year (final)

Please provide feedback on the following

Teaching skills and strategies (AITSL STANDARD 1 & 2)

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Differentiation and catering for the needs of all students (AITSL STANDARD 1)

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Content Knowledge (AITSL STANDARD 2)

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Preparation and choice of resources (AITSL STANDARD 3)

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Questioning skills and wait time (AITSL STANDARD 3)

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Explicit lesson objectives and evidence of a clear lesson sequence (AITSL STANDARD 3)

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Age appropriate and purposeful communication and instruction (AITSL STANDARD 3)

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Relationship with the students and overall classroom climate (AITSL STANDARD 4)

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Classroom management and behaviour management (AITSL STANDARD 4)

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Appendix 2
Reflective journal questions.

 Did I know the content?


 Was the content engaging?
 Did I teach it well? Why/why not?
 Did I feel confident? Why/why not?
 What teaching strategies did I use?
 Did my strategies work? Why/why not?
 Were there any behavioural issues caused by disengagement?