A reflective teaching practicum as a platform for stimulating pre-service teachers’ professional development

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Published: 
September 2021

Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, 47:4, 624-626

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The current study explores the ways in which pre-service teachers build their identity as reflective practitioners and agency as classroom innovators during the teaching practicum.

Method
This study draws on the experiences of 160 pre-service teachers involved in a teaching practicum programme organised by a School of Teacher Education in West Java, Indonesia.
Of this cohort, 20 pre-service teachers of the English education programme (8 females, 12 males) agreed to participate voluntarily in the project.
The teaching practicum was conducted in selected schools in Indonesia before the completion of the four-year bachelor in a teacher education degree.
Two experienced mentor teachers and two supervising teacher educators agreed to collaborate in this project spanning one semester.
In the first phase, the participants engaged in multiple peer observations, following which they carried out self-reflection as well as attending a weekly conference with mentor teachers and supervisors.
To gain a better understanding of the pre-service teachers’ experience through reflective practice, Farrell’s (2018) and Widodo’s and Ferdiansyah’s (2018) reflection frameworks were used in the data analysis.

Findings
Findings revealed that pre-service teachers were able to construct their teacher identity as reflective practitioners and agency as classroom innovators in two fundamental ways.
First, after engaging in peer-observation and self-reflection, pre-service teachers transformed their understanding of their identity as reflective practitioners.
Beforehand, they perceived that their teaching practicum as a routine requirement.
However, findings revealed that after taking part in peer-observation and self-reflection, the participants noticed some critical incidents in the routine activities in the classroom.
For example, a student teacher, Riyana (pseudonym), explained during the interview ‘When I did selfreflection to evaluate my teaching practice, I saw the students who were passive and did not participate in the learning activities.
I perceived that they were not active students.
But, after I did self-reflection, I could see that they had their own mental and cognitive processes.
From this experience, I changed my teaching method so that my students were able to engage in the learning process.’
Second, after doing peer observation and student-teacher conferencing, pre-service teachers changed from their practice into becoming classroom innovators.
In the beginning, for example, Rangga (pseudonym) believed that his students could produce written text in the form of narratives and that writing was an easy task for the students.
However, he observed that his students did not really enjoy this task due to their lack of genre awareness and the necessary lexical resources as well as ideas about writing.
After learning about the theory of genre-based writing he recognised that writing is a socially scaffolded activity and a meaning making process.
He began to apply a genre-based approach in his instructional practice, and provided students with a model of writing that enabled them to realise the role of genre awareness.
Afterwards, he asked students to write collaboratively with their peers.
He also guided his students using scaffolding techniques, and made their writing activities a more engaging meaning-making process.
He concluded that the implementation of this approach could help his students to write narrative texts successfully.

Discussion
During the teaching practicum, the three professional tasks of peer-observation, self-reflection, and student teacher-mentor teacher conferencing were enacted successfully.
The findings revealed that pre-service teachers changed their understanding of their identity as reflective practitioners and classroom innovators because, as suggested by Azimi et al. (2019), these professional tasks allow pre-service teachers to develop more critical, dialogic and transformative reflections.
These professional activities also enabled pre-service teachers ‘to improve instructional practice, enhance commitment to teaching, develop self-efficacy/confidence, and apply theory to practice.’ (Cirocki and Widodo 2019, 21).
Such professional learning tasks can be a catalyst for pre-service teachers to harness their identity as reflective practitioners as well as their agency as classroom innovators during the teaching practicum seen as a site of nurturing and developing such capabilities.

References
Azimi, E., E. Kuusisto, K. Tirri, and J. Hatami. 2019. “How Do Student Teachers Reflect on Their Practice through Practicum Courses? A Case Study from Iran.” Journal of Education for Teaching 45 (3): 277–289.
Cirocki, A., and H. P. Widodo. 2019. “Reflective Practice in English Language Teaching in Indonesia: Shared Practices from Two Teacher Educators.” Iranian Journal of Language Teaching Research 7 (3): 15–35. 
Farrell, T. S. C. 2018. Research on Reflective Practice in TESOL. New York, NY: Routledge. Flynn, N. 2019. “Facilitating Evidence-informed Practice.” Teacher Development 23 (1): 64–82.
Widodo, H. P., and S. Ferdiansyah. 2018. “Engaging Student Teachers in Video-Mediated SelfReflection in Teaching Practica.” In Routledge International Handbook of Schools and Schooling in Asia, edited by K. J. Kennedy and J. C-K. Lee, 922–934. London: Routledge.

Updated: Feb. 20, 2022
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