2 Learning from experience
How would you describe your professional competence?
Donald Schon (1991) argues that when people describe their professional competence in terms of ‘art’ or ‘intuition’ they typically mean that it cannot be described. The first activities in this course ask you to reflect on your current work situation and encourage you to identify the challenges and opportunities that you see in your role.
First, consider the questions below and make brief notes. Once you have done this, find a suitable opportunity to share your thoughts on a confidential basis with a colleague or friend whose judgement you respect. In particular, ask your colleague to cooperate with you in considering question 4.
What are the central activities of your job?
What changes in your job do you expect over the next 3–5 years?
What aspects of your job (in either its present or its future form) present the greatest challenges or tests?
What new skills or knowledge might help you to deal with these challenges or tests?
Your answers to these questions will be unique due to your knowledge and previous experience. However, in your answer to question 1 you may have given prominence to your classroom work. Perhaps you emphasised teaching a particular subject, or you may have highlighted your efforts in learning support, pastoral work or curriculum development.
The changes you predicted in question 2 will, to some extent, depend on the sector you work in and your particular teaching speciality. However, all teachers will be grappling with the implications of curriculum change, the opportunities presented by the use of new technologies and the implementation of new legislation.
Amongst the challenges in your job you identified in question 3, you may have included some or all of the following:
taking account of the very different needs of learners;
dealing effectively with challenging behaviour;
motivating pupils with low self-esteem or low attainment;
collaborating effectively with colleagues;
keeping up to date with developments in the curriculum;
coping with the drudgery of paperwork;
involving pupils more effectively in decision-making;
teaching personal, social and health education;
challenging discrimination in all its forms;
juggling the often competing demands of work, study and home life.