Reflecting on Emotions During Teaching: Developing Affective-Reflective Skills in Novice Teachers Using a Novel Critical Moment Protocol

October, 2020

Source: Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 45(10)

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article introduces findings from research that examined early career teacher professional learning utilizing an affect-based “critical moment protocol” within a collaborative reflection process.

Research Questions
In accordance with the aims of "It’s part of my life: Engaging university and community to enhance science and mathematics education" (IPOML) (Woolcott et al., 2017a, 2017b), the current study was designed to delineate a relationship between early career teacher’s emotional understandings and their teaching practices.
In particular, the study was designed to examine the hypothesis that the reflection process would successfully develop and continue to develop, via an iterative process, affective-reflective skills relating to teaching confidence.
The study was designed, therefore, to consider the following central research question:
How does an affect-based reflection protocol assist early career teachers to focus on improving classroom teaching practices?

Two subsidiary research questions were also considered:
What affective-reflective skills did early career teachers develop by undertaking the reflection (R) component of the Enhancement-Lesson-Reflection (ELR) process?
How did any improvement in affective-reflective skills contribute to early career teachers’ classroom confidence?


Research Design
This study took a design-based implementation research (DBIR) case study approach, where the design and testing is done in cycles to allow evidence to arise from the variations in implementation and from analysing within-data comparisons, in order to direct potential improvements and innovations (Fishman et al., 2013).
This article reports teacher interactions related to reflection sessions, including collaborative discussion of positive or negative emotional highlights (critical moments) from two teaching lessons for each of two participating early career Teachers, A and B, both with less than five years of teaching experience.
The reflection group consisted of two education experts, the Observer (an experienced teacher who also gave feedback on critical moments) and the university Researcher, along with either Teacher A or Teacher B.
Each reflection session was based on a preceding video of a teaching lesson and provided opportunities to define needs, develop related theory, and reflect and modify affect-based strategies for the next teaching, reflection and planning experience (Fishman et al., 2013).

Data Collection and Analysis
A multi-method approach to data collection was applied in the iterated study sequence.
A video record (and transcription) was made of a preliminary session where each Teacher was briefed on the study, with explanations concerning purpose and methodology.
The present study focuses on the participant Teachers analysing their critical moments in semi-structured discussions as a basis for developing affective-reflective skills.
Data collection, therefore, also included transcripts of the audio and video recordings of interactions within each of the four group reflections, approximately an hour in duration, as well as records of semi-structured interviews with all participants and lesson observation notes.
Data were analysed via manual thematic analysis, with the transcripts coded and scored using constant comparative analysis (Denzin & Lincoln, 2011).

Results and discussion
The critical moment protocol, as used here, was aimed at highlighting affective feedback during collaborative reflection.
Importantly, the reflection emphasized areas of strength and elucidated potential development, and the emergent affective-reflective skills influenced the teaching confidence of both Teachers A and B.
Teacher B, for example, developed an awareness that encouraged refinement of her lesson by examining positive experienced emotions and both positive and negative anticipated emotions.
Although some of Teacher A’s classroom situations entailed negative affective states, she became progressively aware of these as well as any positive states, and this helped her develop affective-anticipation skills that she then refined for pedagogical improvement.
These results correspond to similar findings from trials of the critical moment protocol in the ELR process with pre-service teachers (e.g., Marshman et al., 2018; Woolcott et al., 2017a, 2017b; Woolcott, Whannell et al., 2019; Yeigh et al., 2016), for example, in examining critical moments in self-reflection as a means of recreating success in teaching.
The responses of the preservice teachers, as well as those of the early career teachers in the current study, point to the value of assessing emotions, including anticipated emotions, in relation to pedagogical behaviour.
The DBIR process assisted these participants in examining their own behaviours, these often being pre-emptive behaviours designed to stave off negative affect and invite positive affect.
In analysing how their emotions arose from particular behaviours, the participants were able to challenge themselves to take on more responsibility for their emotional regulation.
They choreographed appropriate strategies for desired affective outcomes, and they refined effective teaching strategies to ‘chase’ the necessary emotions that were linked to their pedagogical confidence.
In this respect, the DBIR process casts a light on the areas of Teacher B’s pedagogical strength, as well as Teacher A’s areas of required improvement, to assist both teachers to improve their pedagogical confidence.
Both Teachers established empathic patterns to better identify and self-regulate emotions and affixed behaviours (see e.g., Hen & Sharabi-Nov, 2014; Perez, 2011), and both scrutinized their affective feedback in order to recreate their successes.
Thus DBIR, as used within the ELR framework, scaffolded for increased intentional control of pedagogically related emotions.
Importantly, feedback was viewed as working in dual directions, with student behaviour contributing to the Teachers’ affective states, and Teacher behaviour contributing to students’ affective states.
While the Observer and Researcher offered significant input to reflections and flagged significant behaviours and emotions in the reflection sessions, the bulk of affective feedback came from classroom students.
Or, more specifically, the useful feedback came by way of focusing on the behaviours and affective states of classroom students, and from the participants connecting this feedback to their own affective states and behaviour.
This was unprompted by either the Observer or the Researcher and was thus an unexpected finding.
Importantly, this finding suggests new ways that the protocol can successfully support beginning teachers in developing their affective-reflective skills for improved pedagogical confidence through DBIR.
In line with the literature on anticipated emotions (Immordino-Yang & Damasio, 2007) the reflection process demonstrates how DBIR assisted these Teachers to choreograph their future decision-making.
This indicates that the iterative reflection enables construction of a mental map to guide a teacher’s affective development, suggesting that this process includes a heuristic function in relation to teacher confidence - a teacher or a student will learn best when they themselves are able to determine that which is most relevant to their personal or professional selves (Gore et al., 2017).

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Woolcott, G., Scott, A., Norton, M., Whannell, R., Galligan, L., Marshman, M., Pfeiffer, L., & Wines, C. (2017b). The Enhancement-Lesson-Reflection process: A resource manual for science and mathematics learning and teaching. Companion Report to the Final report: It’s part of my life: Engaging university and community to enhance science and mathematics education. Canberra, Australia: Department of Education and Training.
Woolcott, G., Whannell, R., Wines, C., Pfeiffer, L., Marshman, M., & Galligan, L. (2019a). Collaboration and co-creation in regional and remote education: Case studies from initial teacher education programs. Australasian Journal of Regional Studies, 25(1), 54-80.
Yeigh, T., Woolcott, G., Donnelly, J., Whannell, R., Snow, M., & Scott, A. (2016). Emotional literacy and pedagogical confidence in pre-service science and mathematics teachers. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 41, 107–121.

Updated: Jun. 24, 2021