Preparing Pre-Service Candidates as Effective Reflective Practitioners Using edTPA

Preparing Pre-Service Candidates as Effective Reflective Practitioners Using edTPA

Sumitra Himangshu-Pennybacker (Middle Georgia State University, USA) and David P. Fuller (Middle Georgia State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2963-7.ch011
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Abstract

Proponents of teacher education preparation advocate that in order for new teachers to be effective in their practice they must acquire skills as reflective practitioners, specifically as it relates to lesson designing and instruction and understanding individual student needs. This study demonstrates the use of edTPA reflective commentary to move teacher education candidates from a superficial professional reflection to becoming a reflective practitioner with an in-depth understanding of reflective practice and evidence-based instruction.
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Introduction

Building teacher capacity for success is among today’s leading issue in American education. Because success in the classroom is so important, capacity building is the topic of much discussion in professional discourse. Two reasons for its popularity as a topic for discourse are (a) teacher continuous improvement, and (b) student academic achievement. Building capacity is important for continuous improvement. As teachers improve and develop their knowledge and skills, through professional development (and other experiences), these gains translate into an increased teacher’s classroom efficacy. Professionally developed teachers should possess cutting edge techniques and strategies to help at-risk students experience an increased level of success (Cooter, 2003).

One such strategy evolves through using authentic assessments. Authentic assessments are those where a candidate performs a task and their performance on the task is evaluated. Authentic assessment differs from traditional assessment in that they involve performance of real-life situations that provide direct evidence of application and knowledge. Chappuis and Stiggins (2004), emphasize the importance of learner involvement in assessment, guiding them to project their future plans and learning goals. Empowering learners in this manner, assures that they are viewed as active members responsible for their own progress. Self-assessment (in the form of self-reflection) is a valuable tool in teacher preparation for learning and evaluating the effectiveness of instruction. For example, when learners are engaged in assessing their own work, they strive not only to attain a high quality of performance measures, but also exhibit a willingness to apply those criteria (Herrera et. al., 2007)

Authentic assessments are frequently used in teacher preparation programs to help teacher candidates bridge the gap between theory and practice (Darling-Hammond & Snyder, 2000). Using authentic assessments, candidates are provided experientially based problem-solving teaching opportunities. As part of the teaching opportunity, candidates are asked to reflect on their teaching and the learning that takes place in the classroom. In reflecting upon the teaching and learning, candidates can examine what worked and did not work in their classroom. Through this examination, candidates can develop the skills necessary to become a reflective practitioner.

Reflective practice is teaching, examining what did and did not work in the classroom, and adjusting instruction in the classroom to better aid students in the learning process. To be a reflective practitioner takes a specific set of skills and practice. There are many ways that reflective practice can be used (e.g., self-reflective journal, video recording). The important point is that the process of reflection is designed to help teachers examine their practice to improve it.

The need to equip teacher candidates with the skills to be reflective practitioners cannot be overstated. In fact, research regarding teacher reflection has long been an established focal point within the domain of educational research (Kahn & Best, 2006; Kuswandono, 2017). Self-reflection is important because it is a process whereby teachers collect, record, and analyze classroom practice to make improvements based on learning needs of their students. “Reflective teaching goes hand-in-hand with critical self-examination and reflection as a basis for decision making, planning, and action” (Richards & Lockhart, 1994, p. ix).

The benefit of being a reflective practitioner resides with the ability to help enhance the quality of student outcomes. In becoming a reflective practitioner, teachers must be able to view their instructional practices critically, and value the fact that there is always room for improvement. Self-reflection is important because we must be able to understand why it is a student did not grasp a certain concept, and how we can make improvements in how we teach to help student experience an increased level of success. As teacher education candidates acquire such skills, they proportionally enhance their ability to build capacity for classroom success. While teacher candidate professional reflection is an important objective for teacher preparation programs, its very definition and implementation can be complex.

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