This has been a successful session as I have achieved my learning objectives as I had set out in my learning plan at the beginning of the session. Through the learning plan, I was able to develop a clear learning structure and reflecting through enables acquisition of greater progress that helps in the achievement of the identified objectives. The aim of this reflective report is to provide a self-evaluation of the learning needs in my first session of university study as set out in my learning plan (Yancey, 1998).
The learning needs covered in this report include acquisition of academic writing skills, acquisition and boosting of my professional teaching skills, how to overcome anxiety and panic during class presentations and how to be an honest student when doing my academic work such as assignments and research. The report discusses these learning needs as pertains to my set goals, the strategies and resources I used, the constraints or challenges I faced along the way and what enabled me overcome the challenges and achieve the objectives in spite of the constraints and an in depth evaluation of the outcomes of each learning need and a reflection on the entire process of achieving the objective.
Overcoming anxiety during class presentations
My goal was to overcome shaking and trembling during presentations. For a long time, I had always been overcome by fear whenever asked to stand before the classroom. This hindered my presentations as I could tremble and even the words I uttered could not be heard. To overcome this issue, I employed the use of strategies such as 3 P’s; planning, practice and preparation (Bain, etal, 2002). In an attempt to ensure that this was being enhanced, I did presentations in my group comprising of five students, I made sure that each day I had a topic to present to them. During these presentations, I asked them to observe the effectiveness of my communication skills and correct me accordingly. Each day I came up with a new and better strategy such as carrying a note book where I highlighted the key points of presentation.
In the course of these presentations, I encountered constraints that hindered my steady progress and as a result making my development slow (Pee, etal, 2002). For instance, many are the times I lacked adequate time to present to my group members. Most times I was free, one or two group members was committed in other duties. Furthermore, at most times I was overwhelmed with the school programme that I lacked a single minute to prepare for presentation.
Despite the challenges, through attending seminars, lectures and sacrificing the little time I had to present to my group members, I am glad that today I can confidently present before an even larger group of people.
As a career teacher, possession of academic writing skills is an essential tool to enable easy and smooth knowledge transfer to my future students. As a result, making short and precise sentences to form simple paragraphs that can be read and understood easily was my goal. To achieve this goal, I employed the use of strategies such as reviewing the internet for academic writing sources (Mass, 1991). I also attended seminars and lectures on effective academic writing.
However, in this process, I encountered constraints such as lack of knowledge on the university standards of academic writing. Having just come from high school in the remote parts of upcountry, I lacked creativity skills and at the same time had no knowledge of the standard language of University academic writing (Collins, 1987).
My passion in academic writing saw me constantly glued to the internet in search for skills. In the end, my writing skills have grown tremendously courtesy of on-line searches on the same.
Acquisition and improvement of my professional teaching skills
As a student pursuing a course leading to a career teaching profession, It is essential that I learn and acquire effective skills that will make me an efficient professional. As a result, it was my objective learning how to use teaching materials such as the blackboard. To achieve this goal, thrice a week, I taught at a local nearby school immediately after ending my lectures (Lea & Street, 1998). Here, I had a chance to practice and perfect on using teaching materials such as the blackboard, charts and also to perfect on teaching techniques such as preparing teaching programmes and the overall class presentation skills.
However in acquiring this objective, I encountered constraints such as lack of adequate time to concentrate on my course work and at the same time prepare for lessons in the nearby school. In this pursuit, many are the times I was at conflict with the administration of the school where I taught due to issues such as late reporting, failing to mark assignments and missing classes (Chung, etal, 1999). This was occasioned by the tight schedule I had to endure as I tried to balance between teaching and doing my own studies.
Despite the fact that I faced the challenges, this experience gave me an overview of what to expect in my profession and how best to strike a balance in professional work. I believe today I am a better teacher than I were before the start of this session.
Long before I joined the university, I knew of the university as a place where students copy and present assignments of others, have assignments done for them, get others to the tasks given from the internet while others even have their final examinations and research papers done by other people for a pay (Carroll, etal, 1996). Having been brought up in a strictly Christian family, I grew up to learn and appreciate moral values such as honesty, transparency and a believe in hard work. Regardless of what all other students were going to do, I believed that I was going to eat my own sweat and that at no time would I copy assignment (O’Neill, 1998). As a result, it was my goal to appreciate the work of other authors by providing proper citation in my work to avoid plagiarism. In order to achieve this, I would learn all the referencing styles and how to use them in citations of other author’s work.
Nonetheless, at the initial stages, I faced constraints since I did not know how to use some of the referencing styles such as Harvard. Moreover, I still lacked adequate skills in proper in sight referencing especially using the various referencing styles. For instance, when using the Harvard, style, I did not know that I was supposed to indicate page number in the insight referencing. However, to address these shortcomings, the internet was of great importance (Wroe & Halsall, 2001). I also attended seminars where such skills were taught while at the same time reviewing written samples to observe how referencing using the various styles was done.
In so doing, I have learned a lot on how to use the various referencing styles to cite different author’s work and in the process avoid plagiarism.
All a long my education career, I have always been a student leader right from pre-unit where I served as the class prefect to high school where I was the school captain. On joining the university, I had the passion to advance my leadership and student servant skills by being the university student leader. Following this, my goal was to make enough necessary connections among the students to enable me get elected as the student leader. In order to achieve this, my strategy was to join Student Human Rights Associations through which I could make myself heard (Bizzaro, 2004). I was also to accumulate enough resources which would help in my campaigns and to acquire enough friends who would constitute my voters base. However, in so doing, I encountered a considerable number of constraints among them; lack of adequate resources, unfamiliarity since I was a new student and the general lack of enough forums where I could showcase my leadership prowess.
This goal has seen me acquire so many friends within and without the university some of whom have promised to fund my campaign (Paku & Lay, 2008). My human rights advocacy skills have also been sharpened and as a result I have been nick-named “The Human Rights Fighter” not only within the university but across the entire country. My confidence has also been boosted from once the shy guy to the famous articulative fellow on social issues such as human rights and environmental issues across the entire nation.
I can gladly say that my session has been a success as I have achieved a significant level of success ranging from academic writing skills, oral presentation skills, confidence, career development skills, moral values and even leadership skills. My grades will most certainly be good since I applied all the acquired skills to the latter in doing my assignments and my examination. Furthermore, I have no doubt I am going to be elected the next student leader of the university (Convery, 1993).
Based on what I was able to acquire, I believe I can do much to improve on my overall growth at the university and to cope well in my life out of the university.
I should engage more in practical work to enhance my professional skills further.
I need to indulge more in leadership activities such as attending leadership seminars to enhance my leadership skills.
I ought to rad widely to enhance my academic skills.
Langer, J. A., & Applebee, A. N. (1987). How Writing Shapes Thinking: A Study of Teaching and Learning. NCTE Research Report No. 22. National Council of Teachers of English, 1111 Kenyon Rd., Urbana, IL 61801 (Stock No. 21802-222, $6.95 member, $8.95 nonmember)..
Collins, A. (1987). Cognitive Apprenticeship: Teaching the Craft of Reading, Writing, and Mathematics. Technical Report No. 403.
Yancey, K. B. (1998). Reflection in the writing classroom.
Bain, J. D., Mills, C., Ballantyne, R., & Packer, J. (2002). Developing reflection on practice through journal writing: Impacts of variations in the focus and level of feedback. Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, 8(2), 171-196.
Pee, B., Woodman, T., Fry, H., & Davenport, E. S. (2002). Appraising and assessing reflection in students' writing on a structured worksheet. Medical education, 36(6), 575-585.
Maas, J. (1991). Writing and reflection in teacher education. Issues and practices in inquiry-oriented teacher education, 211-225.
Lea, M. R., & Street, B. V. (1998). Student writing in higher education: An academic literacies approach. Studies in higher education, 23(2), 157-172.
Chung, S., Chung, M. J., & Severance, C. (1999). Design of Support Tools and Knowledge Building in a Virtual University Course: Effect of Reflection and Self-Explanation Prompts.
Carroll, S., Beyerlein, S., Ford, M., & Apple, D. (1996, November). The Learning Assessment Journal as a tool for structured reflection in process education. In Frontiers in Education Conference, 1996. FIE'96. 26th Annual Conference., Proceedings of (Vol. 1, pp. 310-313). IEEE.
O'Neill, P. (1998). From the writing process to the responding sequence: Incorporating self-assessment and reflection in the classroom. Teaching English in the Two Year College, 26(1), 61.
Wroe, A., & Halsall, R. (2001). School self-evaluation: measurement and reflection in the school improvement process. Research in Education, (65), 41.
Bizzaro, P. (2004). Research and reflection in English studies: The special case of creative writing. College English, 66(3), 294-309.
Paku, L., & Lay, M. (2008, April). Reflection and review: Confessions of placement students. In Proceedings of the 11th Annual Conference of the New Zealand Association for Cooperative Education (pp. 42-44).
Convery, A. (1993). Developing fictional writing as a means of stimulating teacher reflection: A case study. Educational Action Research, 1(1), 135-151.
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