Academic journal article Educational Foundations

Reflective Practice in Teacher Education Programs at a HBCU

Academic journal article Educational Foundations

Reflective Practice in Teacher Education Programs at a HBCU

Article excerpt

One of the major outcomes of the educational reform movement in the United States during the past decade has been the increased focus on the professional preparation of educators (Darling-Hammond, 1997). According to Sanders and Rivers, numerous studies indicate that educators make a significant difference in their students' education (1996). In response to the incessant calls to improve and assure educator quality, the education programs at Albany State University adopted a conceptual framework that integrates state, national, and professional standards into its education preparation programs. As such a standards-based preparation approach was developed to empower future professional educators who graduate from Albany State University.

The conceptual framework at Albany State University consists of multiple forms of knowledge, drawn from many disciplines and sources, including research, best practices, historical and cultural perspectives, the learning community of education practitioners and professional and community values. One tenet of the conceptual framework is the goal of a reflective transformative practitioner. This principle is based on the assumption that the knowledge that supports our program is dynamic and continues to evolve as inquiry and research about teaching and learning are established.

The evolution of reflection in teaching and teacher education can be traced back to John Dewey who used the idea of the scientific method to scaffold how people think and learn. Dewey made a tremendous impact on education and how teachers use reflection in order to increase their personal and professional experiences. He defined reflection as "turning a subject over in the mind and giving it serious and consecutive consideration, thereby enabling us to act in a deliberate and intentional fashion. Reflection involves active, persistent and careful consideration" (Dewey as cited in Sweigard, 2007).

Since the inception of Dewey's laboratory schools, reflection has become a major component for programs that prepare educators. Reflection can be a rich source of continued personal and professional growth. This provides an opportunity for professionals to renew and revive their practice. Educators gain information about their teaching from their own observations of themselves, coupled with their own reflections (Paulson & Kenneth cited in Sweigard, 2007). Reflection is a gift professionals can use to grow from experiences. Through reflection, professionals develop context specific theories that further their own understanding of their work and generate knowledge to inform future practice. When an educator engages in meaningful reflection, conclusions can be drawn that provide insight for future instruction. The primary emphasis is to prepare educators to create learning environments that are conducive to the teaching and learning process which will positively impact student achievement.

In order to become a reflective transformative practitioner, one must first understand what a reflective practitioner is and what transformation means. A transformative leader engages in reflection and action. Therefore in order for an educator to become a transformative leader, they must first learn the important skill of reflection. The next section of this article will describe the concept of reflection and the concept of transformation independently. These independent definitions will provide a foundation for the combination of the two concepts that are used in the teacher preparation program at Albany State University.

What Is a Reflective Practitioner?

In general, reflection uses the past to inform our judgment, reflect on our experiences and face new encounters with a broader repertoire of information, skills and techniques (Killion, Joellen, Todnem, & Guy, 1991). When you reflect on what has occurred and consequently change your actions you will hopefully experience a different outcome. …

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