On 19 August 2020 at 15.00, in Zoom room, Raili Allas will defence her doctoral thesis „Supporting Teachers’ Professional Development through Guided Reflection Procedure“.
Supervisors: Professor Äli Leijen (PhD; University of Tartu), Professor Auli Toom (PhD; University of Helsinki)
Opponent: Professor Maria Assunção Flores Fernandes (PhD; University of Minho, Portugal)
The society around us is changing rapidly, which requires all of us to constantly develop and update our knowledge and skills. Continuous professional development is particularly important for teachers, because in addition to improving themselves, they must support students so that they could become future professionals who are able to adapt to the unpredictable expectations and needs of society. Thus, there is an increasing focus around the world on supporting teacher development. At the same time, our teaching staff is becoming more and more diverse, which means that teachers who need support are very different in terms of their training and also their needs. Educational researchers agree that one of the key components of teacher development is reflection, which means making sense of one's actions in order to combine different knowledge and experiences into a coherent whole for future use in managing one's actions and decisions. Various studies have also highlighted aspects that help to reflect effectively - the use of video recordings, the interpretation of meaningful situations, reflection with one's partner, the use of guiding questions. However, there are not enough methods that integrate the above aspects into a coherent whole so that they are suitable for supporting teachers with different experiences. This dissertation introduces a guided reflection procedure and explores how it supports teachers at different stages of their professional development. To this end, 21 student teachers and 80 teachers carried out the reflection procedure and provided feedback on how they perceived its strengths and weaknesses. The reflections created by the students during the reflection procedure were also analysed. The results revealed that teachers with different experiences perceive the developed guided reflection procedure as useful. In particular, teachers value the opportunity to see their teaching on video, to repeatedly make sense of their experiences, to reflect with their partner, and to focus on their strengths. In addition, the analysis of student reflections showed that focusing on empowering situations supports reflection. As a practical value of the dissertation, recommendations are given that should be considered in supporting student teachers and teachers.