|Developing Your Areas of Learning||Objectives | Styles | Tools | e-Learning Activity|
This module and the next is where you will need to spend most time. During this module you will be working through each subsection in turn:
- Reviewing your CV and job description
- Considering and determining the papers against which you will seek assessment of prior learning
- Shaping and determining the areas of learning you have
- Exploring and developing the content for your areas of understanding
- Beginning to build your assessment presentation
What to remember
Seeing your practice and context as the centre of your presentation and articulating this very richly is going to enable you to cover naturally the learning outcomes of the paper. Your practice and your context is the place to start. The learning outcomes of the papers you are seeking assessment against will be attended to if you:
• draw out the understandings you bring to your practice
• show how those understandings have deepened by further development of your practice as well as by learning through other means such as theory, any structured learning you may have undertaken, and engagement in many forms with others
• position your understandings within the writings of others you have read
• reflect on the deep learning that has taken place
• show how your practice has been transformed
• explore the impact of this on your professional identity
You have two starting points:
1. the idea and areas of learning that you want to explore
2. and your CV (LinkedIn Profile) and job description that you developed earlier. Use these to think carefully about what knowledge and skills you have developed over the years. From this, you are likely to find that there are themes in your what you have learnt. Determine the focus context for your assessment. You are likely to have developed a great deal of skill, ability and knowledge over the years! How do you decide what to use as areas of learning in your presentation?
- A good place to start is with a significant piece of work that as you think about it seems to be something that took up a great deal of your thinking and creative time, that was challenging.
- Think also of a particular group of learners and a particular learning area that you have been significant times for you.
- Think of activities that have shown a diverse range of skills in process.
- Think of responsibilities that you may have had as part of the team of your School that have been times of learning, possible challenge and increasing understandings.
- Think of things you feel proud of that go to the heart of your belief about teaching and learning.
A good rule of thumb is to focus on developing areas of learning that are relevant to where you want to go in the future – particularly to any further exploration you may like to do once you have completed this module.
Look also for contexts that are multidimensional – that had many areas of development for you within them, and many forms of learning. Remember you are not being judged by the outcome of that project but about the extent of learning you have been able to extract from and about that situation.
Use some of the tools described earlier to help you shape up possible areas. A spidergram is often a helpful tool at this point. Put it aside and then come back to it, what feels central to you.
Building your application for review of learning assessment
Now you have the focus for your development area, and you have written this down and have a sense of the dimensions and aspects to it.
The task is now to pull together what you have brainstormed and begin to describe these situations very richly. We encourage you to use diagrams and mindmaps to help you identify the various facets. If you have a colleague or another learner you can do this with you may find it easier to move quickly on this. Offer a reciprocal process! Sometimes it is easier to talk and have the other person take down the key notes of what you are saying. You can then take this first dumping away and begin to explore it.
The goal is to produce a focused presentation that can outline your current grasp of the learning area, that sets the scene for your exploration of the nature and process of the learning you have undertaken, and its meaning in terms of your understanding of yourself as a professional educator.
There are three key dimensions for this:
- What your current understandings, skills and practice are, and what has informed and influenced these?
- What theoretical understandings do you bring and how are these reflected in and connected to your practice?
- What is the significance of might change in your practice as a result of this further development and what might the implications of this be?
It is time to look at your current practice in depth and identify from that what central or core understandings you have.
It is not only the experiences you have had that the assessors want to understand. They are interested in what you have learnt, what you understand, how you gained that learning, and the consequences of your learning for your work, and your learners and your team or School . It is not just about what you have achieved but what learning you have gained and how that learning has been reflected in your practice.
Reflect on specific achievements
Another way of approaching the issue of what your focus for your presentation could be is to reflect on an example of something you have created, accomplished or produced. It could be something tangible you have produced, such as a document or a workshop or presentation or exhibition of some kind.
These artefacts can often be enormously helpful as the context for wrapping your understandings around. They provide the starting trigger for reflecting on the processes that you used to create it as well as the learning you bought to the commencement and the learning you gained through its production.
You could ask yourself:
• What was the purpose of my creation of this? What was I attempting to show or express?
• How did I know what to do/create and how? Where did the idea come from, what was its goal?
- What understandings did I have to bring to it? Where did that learning come from?
- What did I have to resolve along the way in terms of my understandings?
• Why did I do this in a particular way? What would the consequences be if I did it differently?
• What went well, what went wrong and why?
• Have I done this activity like this before? Why?
• If I did this again how would I do it differently? Why?
Think about newly acquired skills
Recently acquired skills may also form the basis of areas of learning. As you review your job description, you may identify something that you have had to learn recently from job changes or developments. If you are currently taking on new responsibilities at work, keeping a learning log over the next few weeks can provide you with a record of the new things you are learning, which you may be able to use as a focus for explaining your understandings.
Explaining your learning
In your application the assessors will be looking to see that you have reflected on your learning and analysed it. An effective and powerful way of explanation is to tell the story of your learning in a way that described the journey. But in doing so it is important to balance the telling of the story with the learning that has come with it. That learning can be described using a story or journey approach also. It is really important to understand that credit does not come from what you have produced as an artefact but from your description of the learning, and the sense making, that you have engaged in.
Remember that not all stories are capable of expressing the fullness of what you want to say, so you might decide to structure your presentation into sections. It might be that you might want to talk separately about some of the key beliefs, values, principles you hold, rather than build them into your case studies. The same could be said for some of the knowledge areas. There is no set requirement for how you do this, the key is that you can express your understandings and show them connected to your practice.
Some important areas for you are in:
1. Setting the scene, explain the context of your work and positioning it in terms of what impacts on and influences your actions. Think not only of the situation with learners, but on the wider dimensions that impact, eg government and institutional polices and standards, practices, professional body and other stakeholder expectations, the current state of understandings practice within your area of responsibility within your institution and within the wider community of practice.
2. Identifying the ways in which your learning has taken place to date, what that learning was, how your learning occurred.
3. Exploring how that learning impacted on both your understandings and your practice. What changed or developed as a result? What challenges arose during the learning for you? What new ways of seeing did this learning result in, what issues were resolved or strengthened and why? What were the consequences for your practice and for learners and other professionals in your enhanced understandings? What had to be overcome in implementing your new understandings?
4.Showing your self-awareness, and implications of this for your practice and engagement with others.
5. Identifying the progressive nature of your learning, and its increasing complexity.
6. Making very explicit what you have learnt
7. Presenting this clearly, logically, concisely
8. Using evidence that has been carefully selected and organised
9. Showing through illustrations or case studies your developed practice and how the learning was applied and developed
Review these against the aims of the papers you are seeking assessment against. Do you believe your focus areas will cover these? Or would it be better to have some sections that are explanations of critical aspects before the focus areas are explored? Seek a meeting with your facilitator to discuss this and gain feedback. Use this feedback to strengthen your approach