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EDFD452: Transition into the Profession

Jessica McQueen
S00144107

EDFD Assessment Task 1


Jessica McQueen
S00144107
Essay
In my first draft of my teaching philosophy I raised a number of
areas, which for me are important in teaching and learning.
However I felt that I only briefly touched on these without a full
exploration of why I believe these are important in the classroom.
This is why I chose to select my most important beliefs and attitudes
and explore these further to strengthen my philosophy, which would
further demonstrate my passion for wanting to be a teacher.
Creating a community of learners in the classroom allows for
students to take more responsibility over their own learning and
work in partnership with the teacher. It caters for students
individual needs and allows the teacher to have a role in the
students holistic development and not just their cognitive
development.
It is the teachers responsibility to create a safe, inclusive and
supportive environment in the classroom where all students feel
welcomed, supported and respected. One way for teachers to
establish an environment like this is by creating a community of
learners because a community is an integral part of facilitating a
safe and supportive learning environment for students (Greene &
Mitcham, 2012, p.13). This community involves a sense of trust
and interaction between groups of learners and is imperative to
successful learning (Graff, 2003, p.203). Creating a sense of
community encourages students to collaborate and respect one
another in a supportive environment where students feel supported
to overcome challenges in their learning (Greene & Mitcham, 2012).

EDFD452: Transition into the Profession


Jessica McQueen
S00144107
To successfully create a community of learners in the classroom
there are four essential components. Firstly, students need to feel
accepted and feel as though they belong to the community (Graff,
2003). The second component is that there needs to be a sense of
trust among the members meaning the group can be trusted and
the group members will give feedback to each other and then once
this trust has been established students will feel as though they
can speak with confidence to other members(Graff, 2003, p.204).
Thirdly, students should see and understand that there is a benefit
in participating and interacting with each other in the community as
it supports their learning. Lastly, members should have a strong
belief that learning can result from the community discussing
information; that is, knowledge can be constructed by the
community (Graff, 2003, p.204).
By creating a dynamic and supportive classroom community
teachers step away from having the sole responsibility of leading
the classroom and instead they encourage students to take more
responsibility over their own learning and become advocates of
their own learning (Greene & Mitcham, 2012, p.14). In a community
of learners the teacher is no longer the giver of information but
instead becomes an active member who facilitates and has the
responsibility of modelling to their students the importance of
exchanging ideas in a respectful manner, challenging one another to
discover new knowledge, and creating spaces in which students can
succeed in becoming critical thinkers (Greene & Mitcham, 2012,
p.14).
A community of learners has links with the constructivist theory,
which is based around students having an active role in building
understanding and making sense of information (Woolfolk &
Margetts, 2013, p.322). A community of learners supports the
constructivist theory because it promotes active student
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EDFD452: Transition into the Profession


Jessica McQueen
S00144107
participation and shared responsibility of learning with the students
and teacher working together to construct knowledge and
understanding instead of just relying on the teacher (Kovalainen &
Kumpulainen, 2007, p.141). The implementation of the
constructivist approach means students are encouraged to initiate
discussions as well as negotiate, challenge and provide feedback to
the ideas presented by the other members of the learning
community and to use their own personal experiences (Kovalainen
& Kumpulainen, 2007, p.141). This means that students should be
participating in learning through hands on activities where they can
learn through their own involvement and actions [with] the goal
[being] to allow students to apply previous knowledge, develop
interests, and initiate and maintain a curiosity (Bevevino, Dengel &
Adams, 1999, p.275). It is through this approach that learning can
be made meaningful because by providing students with activities
that promote the use of prior knowledge and experiences teachers
allow students to construct their own frame of thought and
develop critical thinking skills (Bevevino et al., 1999, p.275).
In this approach the teacher steps back from the traditional role as
giver of knowledge and instead must nurture divergent solutions
and help students to recognize and expand their ability to think
critically as well as encourage students to reflect on the learning
process (Bevevino et al., 1999, p.276). Kovalainen and Kumpulainen
(2007) accurately describe the role of the teacher in a constructivist
community of learners as the teacher is expected to stand aside
from the traditional role in classroom discussions and to allow
student-led discussions, [however they are] not regarded as a
passive classroom member but instead act as a sensitive coach or
an expert partner, who supports engagement in classroom
activities (p.142). This means instead of explicitly telling students
what to think and know teachers stimulate students ideas and
views, scaffold learning, monitor and model learning and direct
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EDFD452: Transition into the Profession


Jessica McQueen
S00144107
learning to meet students individual needs (Kovalainen and
Kumpulainen, 2007).
All communities are made of a diverse range of people and a
community of learners in a classroom is no different. In this
community students will have a range of abilities with their own
gifts and talents as well as challenges. In every classroom some
students struggle with learning, others perform well beyond gradelevel expectations, and the rest fit somewhere in between. Within
each of these categories individuals also learn in a variety of
ways and have different interests (Tomlinson, 2000, p.1). In order
to ensure that all students learn and achieve their full potential the
teacher needs to differentiate instruction because if teachers want
to maximise their students individual potential, they [must] attend
to their differences (Tomlinson, 2000, p.3).
Depending on students individual needs teachers can differentiate
instruction in four different ways to produce the best learning
experience possible for all students (Tomlinson, 2000, p.2). The
teacher can differentiate the content, which is what the students
need to know and/or how they access the required information
(Tomlinson, 2000). Another way is altering the activities/tasks the
students complete in order to practice and master the content
(Tomlinson, 2000). To meet students individual needs a teacher can
also differentiate the product which students are expected to
produce in order to show, apply, use and extend what they have
learned (Tomlinson, 2000). Finally a teacher can alter the learning
environment which is the way the classroom works and feels
meaning they can provide different learning areas for students to
work in (Tomlinson, 2000, p.2).
Teachers need to consider three important principles when they
implement differentiated instruction in their classroom. The first is
ensuring that they are constantly assessing students and that this
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EDFD452: Transition into the Profession


Jessica McQueen
S00144107
assessment is linked to their instruction. Secondly, teachers need to
ensure that they are using respectful activities for all students
meaning that even if/when students are doing different tasks all the
tasks are equally interesting, equally appealing, and equally
focused on essential understandings and skills and are worthwhile
and valuable (Tomlinson, 2000, p.4). Teachers must use flexible
groupings meaning that students have the opportunity to work with
a variety of peers with which they share both similarities and
differences with. This allows students to experience working in a
variety of contexts and teachers to see how students respond and
work in a variety of settings and with different forms of work
(Tomlinson, 2000).
Creating a community of learners in the classroom is beneficial for
student learning because it has been found that when students feel
valued and respected, they gain the confidence that they need to
share their own experiences, to engage in authentic opportunities
for learning (Greene & Mitcham, 2012, p.14). A community of
learners promotes an environment where all students are no longer
passive learners but are actively engaged in their own learning.
Creating a community of learners allows for students individual
needs to be catered for in a supportive and inclusive environment.
All of this assists in creating an environment where students learn to
the best of their ability which should be at the foremost for all
teachers.
Word Count: 1375 words

EDFD452: Transition into the Profession


Jessica McQueen
S00144107

References:
Bevevino, M., Dengel, J., & Adams, K. (1999). Constructivist theory
in the classroom. Internalizing concepts through inquiry
learning. The Clearing House: A journal of educational
strategies, issues and ideas, 72(5), 275 -278. Retrieved from
http://www.jstor.org/stable/30189448
Graff, M. (2003). Individual differences in sense of classroom
community in a blended learning environment. Journal of
Educational Media, 28(2-3), 203 210. doi:
10.1080/1358165032000165635

EDFD452: Transition into the Profession


Jessica McQueen
S00144107
Greene, K., & Mitcham, K. (2012). From the secondary section:
Community in the classroom. The English Journal, 101(4), 1315. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/41415466
Kovalainen, M., & Kumpulainen, K. (2007). The social construction of
participation in an elementary classroom community.
International Journal of Educational Research, 46 (3-4), 141
158. doi: 10.1016/j.ijer.2007.09.011
Tomlinson, C. (2000). Differentiation of Instruction in the Elementary
Grades. ERIC Institution of Education Services, Report No.
ED443572. Retrieved from
http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED443572.pdf
Woolfolk, A., & Margetts, K. (2013). Educational psychology (3rd ed.).
Frenchs Forest, Australia: Pearson Australia.