My reflective Journals

Yanto / 2043974

Issues in Professional Learning

Reflective Journal

# 2

 

I am very interested in answering the questions ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What should I do as a professional learner?’. I believe it’s not easy to find who we really are as professional learners. However, there are several things that can be done as a professional learner. One way to explore our personal identity is through research our professional history and identifying our future areas of development (Campbell et al., 2004).  Writing, thinking and talking can do this. A reflective journal is a very helpful way to see our aims in a learning process and to examine them.

 

Keeping a journal is new for me as a learner because I’ve never done it before. I think it’s just like a diary but more clearly in defining a development of our improvement as a learner.  In a reflective journal, we should document what we do, the important events in our learning process and our beliefs and assumptions (Moon, 1999). I think it makes sense. As a learner, I often forget what I do week-by-week because I’ve never kept any documents with me. As a result, I don’t know what to do and where to go to achieve my learning goal.

 

By keeping a journal, I start to define and set my goal in every topic that I enroll this semester. I also try to apply every step that a self-directed learner should do. I write on a piece of paper my goals, plans, actions and reflections for this semester. I also write a list of things to do for my daily activities and then I evaluate in the evening, whether I my plan that day run well or not. After that, I try to analyze and reflect the result. Finally, I try to find a solution for every problem that I face and start to write another plan for the next day. I think this is what I need to be a self-directed learner. This process is a continuing process for a good learner (Guskey, 2000).

To find the answer on the question of who I am, I try answering the questions of self-inventory by John Mason (2002). The main focus of the questions is how to recognize our needs and how to set our goal and make an action to achieve that goal. For example, one question asking; Whereas I used to…… and then continued by the next question; I have recently begun to…….

 

After answering the questions, I found that I could figure out my own needs as a learner. However, I couldn’t set my plans well. I still found my self could not prioritize my needs. I still did many things at the same time. I asked my self a question ‘Why this thing keeps happening to me over and over again.” 

 

The good news was I realized my problem and could identify it. I thought that what experts did. They could recognize the problems in their particular area (Bransford et al., 1999). At the moment, all I need to do was taking an action.  Then, I decided to list all of my assignments this semester. I listed them based on their due dates. It looked very simple but I felt very surprised when I found the result was very amazing. I finally knew that the point was if you could see things from a different view, you would find a good result.

 

Obviously, if I can see clearly what the problem is, the solution will be simpler than I thought before. Now, I start to do my assignments based on the new list and not thinking about the others. Wow, it’s easy, isn’t it? I just didn’t realize it before.

 

I practice this simple method for a few days and it works well. Right now, I’m thinking that if I can teach this method to my students later. Being a learner here in Australia, always reminds me about the feelings of my students when they learn something from me. By comparing my situation as a learner and my students’ situation will make me understand the meaning of being a learner.

 

 

Yanto / 2043974

Issues in Professional Learning

Reflective Journal

# 3

 

This time I focus my attention to action research; definition, aim, advantages and process. I’ve heard this term before but never done it. My understanding about action research is a classroom’s research that is done by a teacher and put the students as the center of the research. This kind of research is a continuing process and involving other parties such as school headmaster, community and the students of course.

 

My final assignment for this topic is conducting an action research and writing it as a final report. In the last few days, I spent my time reading some books about action research and getting some understandings about it. I found that action research was a very powerful research for teachers to improve the result of a learning process.

 

According to Stringer (2004), the main focuses of action research are change, reflection, participation, inclusion, sharing, understanding, repetition, practice and community. It looks very complex and involves many efforts. However, the most interesting point for me is that to conduct an action research teachers need to keep a document with them. Reflective journal is a helpful document in action research. So, there is a significant relationship between action research and reflective journal. It’s very interesting.

 

Perhaps this is the reason why the assignments of this topic (Issues in Professional Learning) are reflective journals and an action research. Well, I’ve just found the link between two of them. That’s the point! I’m learning now! Yessss.

 

I remember when I taught English in a private English course in Indonesia. The institution distributed questionnaires to the students once in three months. The questionnaires were about the assessment of teachers by students. The students were free to give their opinion about the teachers’ performance in the classroom. Then, the questionnaires were given to the teachers to be analyzed; therefore, they could find their weaknesses and try to improve their performance. The information from the questionnaires was also used by the institution to figure out the students’ needs. As a result, the material and teachers’ improvement were based on the students’ needs. That was a continuing policy by the institution. I believe that was a kind of action research and it worked well.

 

I’m thinking about myself if I can use this kind of research for my next teaching in my present job as a new lecturer at Jambi University. I realize that the input in my university is still very low. Jambi, according to national statistics, has a low mark in education compared to other thirty-two provinces in Indonesia. But I think there is no one should be blamed. I can start to make a change even though it will only give a small contribution. A wise man said; “To make a change, start from yourself, start from a small thing and start from today”. I like this quote.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yanto / 2043974

Issues in Professional Learning

Reflective journal

# 4

 

After talking about action research, I find that it’s almost impossible for me and for some of my classmates to conduct this kind of research since I don’t have access to a classroom. The good news is Kerry understand our problem. Instead of conducting action research, Kerry asked us to do an inquiry project. For me, it’s a kind of inquiry or self-reflection to myself as a professional learner. 

 

I see self-reflection is a simple process for everyone. However, not many people do this quite often in their life including myself. Maybe this is because they do not know why they have to do it and how they do it. After a few weeks studying here,

I start to make self-reflection as a habit for me. This is not only for this topic, but also for many aspects in real life. A couple of books about thinking and reflection make me realize the power of thinking and reflection in life especially in my profession as a teacher.

 

The biggest issue in my self-reflection for me right now is procrastination, which is putting off what is necessary or important to do until the last minutes (Ness, 1988). This happens not only in my academic life but also in my daily activities. This is different from my previous problem that was making priority in activities. Procrastination or self-sabotage could still happen even though I could prioritize my plans. The main problem is when and how to start the activities from the list that I have planned.

 

I asked some friends about this and most of them had the same problem. For some, this only happened for sometimes but for some others this was like a disease. For me myself, I think self-sabotage is not a disease but only a kind of temporary bad habit. However, I don’t want to ignore this and make everything become worse. The good news is I recognize my problem. I talked to Malcolm, one of my classmates, and we identified the problem. We also talked about the consequences of this problem and the factors that affected it. Finally, we talked about what needs to be change and the solution of this problem.

 

It’s interesting to find that I could figure out my problem and made thing clearly now only by talking to someone. As a result of my discussion and Malcolm, we decided to make self-sabotage as a topic of our inquiry project. I think this is a very interesting topic because it happens in many aspects of people’s life. From the perspective of professional learning, self-sabotage could be a big problem if someone ignored it and considered it as a bad temporary habit.

 

I start to read some books and articles about self-sabotage or procrastination this week. I find that this is just a matter of choice. People who have problem with self-sabotage let themselves choose this problem. Most people realize this problem but do nothing to solve it (Dessau, 2005). I have talked to some friends and found many of them have this problem in some parts of their life.

 

It becomes interesting for me, because I wasn’t the person who liked to put off things until the last minutes. I used to be on time in many things that I do. But, in fact, I often to sabotage myself in many aspects of life including academic activities. The question is why this happens to me? That is a good question to start with. I believe I can find the answer. It’s just a matter of time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yanto / 2043974

Issues in Professional Learning

Reflective Journal

# 5

 

This time I focus my reflection on thinking about change. In my opinion, to some people change is a big deal. Both as a teacher and as a learner, people need change because the essence of education itself is changing people to a better condition in their life. However, it is not as simple as it looks like. Change is a long process in learning. However, the main focus in this process is teachers not students. We cannot change anyone else if we cannot change our self. I want to put myself as a teacher to see this issue.

 

People usually feel confused, anxious and frustrated to change (Fullan, 2004). I think that is normal because we will enter a new world in a particular area. Change is more difficult for teachers who have a low self-efficacy (Bruning et al, 2004). We tend to keep status quo because we feel more comfortable in it. However, change is a must in all true learning (Buscaglia, …).

 

As a teacher, I realize that change is very important to me. I remember when I changed my teaching style a few years ago. From a questioner, I found that the students criticized my teaching style. They wrote that I was too serious in teaching them. They said I needed to tell a joke to them as an icebreaker. To be honest, it was very hard for me to tell a joke in front of the class. I felt I was not the one like that. I didn’t want to change my personality just because to cheer my students. On the other hand, I tried to understand the students’ need.

 

Finally, I observed a friend of mine who was very good in telling a joke to the students. I found that the students enjoyed his teaching style and still understand the material. Then, I started to find a way to tell a joke in classroom without losing my purpose in teaching the students. It was very hard for the first time because I was not sure if the joke was funny or not. However, little by little I started to understand the technique and the result was very surprising. The students wrote in the next questioner that they enjoyed my class and understood the material. I was very happy that change is not impossible for me.

 

Some colleagues of mine in my institution often complained about our educational system and the environment, which they thought were not good. However, they didn’t do anything to change the environment. They made excuses if they made something wrong by saying everybody else also did the same mistake. Of course, this made things worse for them. For example, they argued that they could not apply the new teaching method in the classroom because our institution did not have the supporting facilities. They kept using the old method that they knew it was not effective anymore. They didn’t want to change anything even though just a little.

 

I know change is not easy but it’s also not impossible. I realize that my environment is not conducive to make a big change. However, it doesn’t mean there is nothing I can do about it. Again, I remember one of my favorite quotes that is; start from a small thing, start from yourself and start from today. And of course, stop complaining. I believe I can change my teaching to a better method. I also believe I can change my students to be better learners. So far, I learned a lot from experience that change is not impossible even in a very difficult situation. I will keep this perception and continue the small change that I have made to me and to my students. I know change is a process not an event (Hargreaves et al, 200, pp.118-119). Everything changes in this world except the change itself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yanto / 2043974

Issues in Professional Learning

Reflective Journal

# 6

 

I remember the question I raised before, ”How do I know I have learned?” To be honest, I haven’t got the answer yet. Maybe I am the quietest person in the class, but I believe I am the one who gets the most advantages from this topic. I learned a lot from the discussion or from the reading sets. I also feel the change in me especially in understanding self-regulated learning. This topic broadens my point of view about professional learning. I think I have found a new me both as a teacher and as a learner.

 

However, what I feel about this topic is not enough to prove that I have learned. I need to find evidence and to do this I have to conduct a research or inquiry project. By collecting and analyzing evidence I will know whether I have learned or not. Another way to know that I have learned is by analyzing my reflective journals. As long as my journal follows the right order of what a good reflective journal should be, I can make my journal as evidence (Moon, 2005).

 

Actually, all of my reflective journals consist of three sessions: a theme, reflection and action.  Every journal is my reflection for every theme that I get in every meeting with the lecturer. So, I can see my improvement week-by-week by looking back my journal. This is a very helpful evidence to see whether I have learned or not. I have found a lot of interesting things through writing my reflective journal.

 

I believe reflective journal is very personal. One reflective journal can be interpreted by different conclusion from different people. For example, in the last discussion we analyzed someone’s journal. Each of us had different point of view about the author and no one was sure what exactly the author mean in the journal. This proved us that a reflective is very personal and can be interpreted by different conclusion.

 

However, in my opinion, a good reflective journal should have a clear idea. It should show the readers what kind of theme that the author is going to discuss. There should also be reflection and action related to the theme. Last but not least, the author should put the future plan to follow up the theme and the action.

That is why reflective journals can be assessed in a formal learning situation (Moon, 2005).

 

To be honest, I’ve never thought that my reflective journal is very powerful for me as a learner. I use self-reflection as a means to see my improvement in many aspects especially in academic activities. For example, I always allocate a time to reflect each topic that I am enrolling this semester. I also try to make a link among the three topics. Then I make my own conclusion about the topic and what can I do later related to the topics. Even I have made a new version of lesson plan for my teaching later. I know it sounds too much but who cares? As long as I have a clear picture about myself as a learner and as a teacher and this is good for my teaching I will go on. I have copied some articles and books about writing journal and will try to apply this method to some friends of mine in Indonesia. Is it possible? Well, why not. Change is a process not an event. Remember?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yanto / 2043974

Issues in Professional Learning

Reflective Journal

# 7

 

There was something new in our class in the last meeting. Kerry told us a story about a frog and a fish. It was an old story for kids I guess. The story was very simple but very interesting because it had a very deep meaning for us as teachers. In the story, the frog told the fish what the world outside the water looked like. However, the frog forgot that the fish had no basic knowledge of the outside world. As a result, the fish made its own interpretation about the outside world, which was totally wrong. Because of its curiosity, the fish tried to get out from the water and didn’t realize the danger.

 

There are many lessons we can get from the story actually. But for me, I think teachers should realize the students’ capacity in a learning situation. As teachers, we should put our self in students’ shoes. If there is something wrong happens as a result of learning process, we should not try to find someone to blame but our self. This is the biggest lesson for me. In my opinion, most teachers think that they have done the right things for their students even though they never checked.

 

Well, I think teachers are very powerful because they could influence someone’s point of view even someone’s life. That is why teachers should realize their position otherwise they could lead their students to something bad. I have a favorite teacher. I think he has influenced me in many aspect of my life. I have made him as a model for my future. Even one of the reasons why I wanted to be a teacher was he. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it happens to me. I believe I can also influence my students to some extent.

 

 

I think one big mistake that we make as teachers is that we think we have taught our students with the best method that we know but we never evaluate that. We often check our students’ assignments but we never do this to our self. I have thought a lot about this issue since I learned this topic. The main problem for the teachers in my country is the lack of improvement facilities. Government realized this issue, however, there is a classic reason for not doing this, the limited budget. I think education always becomes a complicated problem in many developing countries. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean we can’t do anything about it.

 

 

Another big lesson for me is that students can learn from the stories. We can call this the power of stories. I mean, by telling some stories in classrooms, a teacher can send some good messages about life. Everyone needs a model in his life. Stories can provide some good models.

 

A few years ago, I taught primary school students. I usually told them a story in the last ten minutes of our lesson. I got many good responds from them. They always listened carefully to my stories and made some good comments on my stories. I believe it worked well. I’m thinking to do this activity as a habit for me. Some researches have shown the effectiveness of telling stories on the students’ self-efficacy and motivation (Bruning, 1999).

 

I know this is just a very simple aspect in my teaching improvement. However, at least I have done something good in improving my teaching. Instead of complaining about the lack of facilities in my institution, I prefer doing something small. I know Rome was not built in a day. I know to reach a thousand miles I need a first step. I know if there is a will, there is a way. So, why don’t I start from a small thing, start from my self and start from today?

 

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