Reflective Practitioner – SI

I. Abstract 2

II. Introduction.. 3

III. The Example. 4

IV. Commentary. 6

V. Contact 7

I. Abstract

This is a typical example of practice in training music pedagogy students for teaching in secondary schools. It shows the process of how students are supported through their teaching practice in learning to reflect and evaluate.

II. Introduction

Training for music pedagogy students at the Academy of Music, University of Ljubljana, is a four year programme of undergraduate study. In each year they undertake music teaching practice:

·      First year: 45 hours in the kindergarten (ages 3 - 5), lower classes of primary school (ages 6 - 8) and music schools (pre-school programmes for 5 - 6 year old pupils).

·      Second year: 90 hours in the higher classes of primary school (ages 9 - 14).

·      Third year: 90 hours in the music schools focused on teaching Music theory and Solfeggio.

·      Fourth year: 90 hours teaching in secondary schools (15-year-old secondary school students).

This example of practice in guiding future music teachers has been developed and improved over many years. It has developed to reflect a new paradigm for teaching and learning, and in the context of changes to the Slovenian school system, political demands on the teaching field and new methods, materials and technology in the music pedagogy field. The aim is that future music teachers learn about the practical work in music classes at different levels and in different educational settings. Student teachers are taught by music teachers of different ages and experience. In this way they can see how, for example, a young teacher, an older colleague or an experienced teacher work in a classroom. The second aim is that music teaching practice should take place in different classes and with different pupils. Student teachers are not just circling around the classes in one school but also around many of the secondary schools in Ljubljana. This mobility stimulates their flexibility and it results in a larger spectrum of experiences.

Teaching practice in the secondary schools includes classroom visits, independent teaching and continuous practice. Their learning is developed through lesson observations, lesson planning and reflections on their own teaching, self assessment and identifying goals for further work. They are guided by the tutor from the music academy and by guidance and feedback from school music teachers (mentors); as well as by written feedback from the secondary school students they teach. All of this is monitored through the forms used by students in their teaching practice diary and through the form for secondary school students’ reflection on the students’ work.

III. The Example

This example of practice currently represents the most effective way for future secondary school music teachers to prepare for their work and it also promotes lifelong learning. The model includes different forms of work:

·         plenary work involving all students and the teaching practice tutor at the music academy; all students and their secondary school teacher-mentor; discussion of written evaluations by secondary school student of student teachers’ achievements;

·         group work (a lesson carried out by a small group of students, with the presence of the tutor and the teacher-mentor);

·         Individual work (consultations with and feedback by the tutor and the teacher-mentor);

·         students’ independent work.

In this way music teaching practice stimulates the use of different learning methods. Communications between students, tutors and mentors are supported through email. The model not only enables innovations in teaching and learning but also stimulates continued interaction between music pedagogical theory and practice. It stimulates the multi-directional learning of everybody involved in the practice and represents a form of lifelong learning for teacher-mentors and also for tutors at the music academy.

The model enables monitoring, and documenting evaluation of all the stages of the training process in the academic year, on the basis of the following forms:

·      Classroom visit observation sheet (by students): The open format includes categories for general data, lesson stages and musical activities, positive aspects of the lesson, negative aspects of the lesson, suggestions, questions.

·      Peer assessment form for students and tutor: a check list with the set of criteria related to musical and pedagogical activities of the student.

·      Reflection form for students after each independent lesson: Have I reached the planned goals? How did I feel during the lesson? What was my communication with the students like? What do I think about the musical contents which I included in the lesson? What do I think about the musical activities which I included in the lesson? What do I think about the didactical approaches which I used during the lesson? What is my opinion on the teaching equipment and aids I used? What are my conclusions? Would I repeat the whole lesson in another class unchanged, or would I make some corrections? What would these be?

·      Reflection form for school students after each independent lesson: What do I think about the musical examples chosen for the lesson? What do you think about performing (e.g. singing, playing instruments, creativity tasks, etc.)? Were the instructions clear enough? How did I feel during the lesson? What are your suggestions to the teacher?

·      Concluding questions for the 1st and 2nd week of continuous practice: What is my perception of a secondary school music teacher figure? How would I describe my experience of music education lessons in secondary schools where I had my classroom visits and carried out independent lessons? What would I prefer at this point: working in a secondary school, or somewhere else: primary school, music school?

These forms are part of the portfolio kept by every student, while all the documentation together comprises a sort of profile of a student's practice in secondary schools.

IV. Commentary

The main focus of the example is on reflection and evaluation. Written and verbal forms for reflection help students to focus on different aspects of teaching and learning music in the secondary school. They also stimulate their creativity and responsibility for working in the class. Assessing own and peer achievements is a hard task for every student. As a result of practical experience in secondary schools, supported by guidance, students teachers acquire the following competences:

·      flexible use of theoretical knowledge of didactics for secondary school level in practice;

·      observing secondary school students’ musical development and achievements, as well as experienced music teachers’ work;

·      developing the ability of goal-oriented and process-development planning and of carrying out lessons at secondary schools;

·      mastering the basic methods and techniques of teaching and guiding a class at the secondary school level;

·      use of ICT in their own learning process and in teaching music education.

·      developing the skills of reflection and self-reflection on music-teaching practice;

·      experiencing different forms of music-pedagogical work (individual, partner, team work);

·      awareness of a broader range of educational institutions and adapting to the changing professional environment;

·      development of professional accountability and an interest in life-long learning.

It needs to be pointed out once again, that the example also promotes lifelong learning for secondary school teacher mentors, and tutors at music academy. Including secondary school students’ feedback, makes them active participants in the learning process.

The system of external evaluations has only started to be developed. Therefore we can only obtain informal evaluation opinions from the secondary schools that employ our graduates, the relevant offices at the Ministry of Education, the National Education Institute and music teachers study groups. We get informal comments from music teacher mentors: “Teaching practice is not just additional obligation for us but also a benefit. We can observe different approaches to musical activities in the class, get new materials, refresh our knowledge and become aware of some important things. We could also see our secondary-school students from the different point of view and meet young students – future colleagues.”

We believe that with the necessary adjustments to their educational systems, the example can be applied in other countries as well.

V. Contact

Author and Contact Person: