Child nursing staff Ilana Pressick Cycle 2 observation reflection

Observation- going from good to great!

The Process:

Cycle One inspired, developed and facilitated my growth as a teacher.  This learning did not only extend to us as participants but to the process itself.  Changes we incorporated in cycle two as a result of cycle one included:

  1. A clear time line. We ensured that our pre-observation meeting, observations and post-observation meetings all happened within a weeks’ time.  The reflections were then due within a week from our final reflective meeting.
  2. A clear focus on students learning.

In contrast to Cycle One and I guess as a result of Cycle One I had no anxieties or feelings of apprehension when I commenced this cycle.  The difference in my emotional response between the two cycles were very significant to me. Just muttering the words observation used to make my heart race, fill me with anxiety and unable to breathe.  I was unable to disassociate observation and assessment.  Now that I have experienced and seen what a powerful tool observation can truly be I could not help but feel excited and curious about the new discoveries to be made during Cycle Two.

Being the Observer:

I was only supposed to observe Nathalie for the first half of her session.  I found the topic thought provoking and very interesting so I ended up staying for the whole session.  I felt comfortable and confident in my ability to be an observer. I always like sitting amongst the students, having the space and time to view learning through a different lens. I absorb the environment, the physical space around me and the people around me.  Then I analyse how all these factors influence and impacts learning.

My development and growth as a teacher was heavily influence by being the observer during cycle one and once again during cycle two.  In part I think this could be due to the fact that Nathalie is a very experienced lecturer. I feel like a sponge absorbing teaching techniques she uses whilst gently being reminded of small changes to my practice that I should make in order to continue to strives for excellence in my teaching.  During her session I was reminded of the importance to speak clearly so that your voice projects over the background hissing and whirring of the air-conditioner. Repeating answers that students give when asked a question, this is because students speak quietly and cannot be heard in all four corners of the room but also it demonstrates good communication techniques to the students.  Keeping the students engaged by walking around the classroom, keeping the students’ attention, telling a story instead of reading from the PowerPoint, these are small techniques used and when combined makes a big difference to the learning experience of the students.  Using a varied delivery method by incorporating a few slides, followed by a video that brings the theory to life, and then having a classroom discussion about the topic also made the topic easier to relate to thus created an environment whereby students wanted to find out more about the topic.

I did not anticipate when I commenced this study the positively powerful impact being an observer would have on my development and understanding of teaching.

Being observed:

I think having someone observe you teaching will always provoke some level of uncomfortable self-awareness.  However, due to the nature of this observational cycle I was more relaxed and able teach the way I would normally, without Nathalie’s presence effecting how I deliver my session.

For my session I continued my exploration about gamification and incorporated feedback and learning points from cycle one.  I facilitated a board game, whereby students had to answer questions in relation to the subject topic.  We had mini discussions throughout the game about the questions being asked.  After the game I presented a very short PowerPoint with only three slides and a video.  The students were finally presented with a scenario and based on their pre-existing knowledge and knowledge gained from the session they had to answer the questions and present the answers to each other.  Nathalie observed the latter halve of the session involving the scenario.

Peer meeting:

Apart from the knowledge I gained from observing Nathalie I gained confidence in my ability to have a reflective coaching session with a colleague.  Discussing teaching and learning with a colleague, having the space and time to stop, think and explore element of our teaching is valuable but also a necessity for further development and growth.  It requires an honest, open and non-judgemental approach in order to be constructive.  The peer meeting provided a platform to explore our teaching and overcome barriers we face such as increasing student numbers and environmental factors.  For me it definitely increased my self-awareness around teaching and gave me the space to explore ways my session could be utilised for larger cohort students.  It also made me feel valued having my opinions and suggestions heard and appreciated. For these reasons alone, this collaborative observation cycle is already uniquely positive and innovative.

Collaborative meeting:

We had a thought provoking collaborative meeting.  Students had a clear focus for each of our sessions with an underpinning focus on their own learning.  Clear themes emerged from our discussions with similarities and differences apparent for both students.  Discussions with students about their learning gave us as lecturers a greater insight into students learning and how our teaching practices and environmental factors influence learning.  For me personally the meeting left me feeling intrigued and fascinated by the students’ change in their perceptions of their own learning and their increased self-awareness of their learning process.

The students were able to identify which activities were optimum for their learning, when they had ‘light bulb’ moments and how these moments will impact on their practice as student nurses.  The ‘light bulb’ moments made it abundantly clear that learning occurs not only when students are being taught but also whilst having peer discussions and listening to classroom feedback from other students.  This seemed to be a real moment of self-actualisation for students, whereby the key to learning gets unlocked and they realised that learning occurs in many different ways and is a constant conscious and subconscious process. The students also successfully managed to learn from this experience and were able to identify when teaching styles, room environments and even peers were disadvantageous to their learning. This is where it becomes interesting, as a result of becoming more self-aware about their own learning they then changed their behaviour as students, repositioned themselves in the classroom in order to be closer to the front, in the middle and away from distracting peers enabling them to learn despite other perceived obstacles such as learning environment and teaching styles used.

Discussing students learning increased my knowledge about different approached to learning and teaching but also what teaching activities enable and promote learning.  From having these conversations combined with knowledge from cycle one I have come to the realisation that groups discussions are essential to learning.  Building of pre-existing knowledge will be aided if we can enable students by recognising their knowledge.  Most importantlyit verified to me that improving student learning requires teachers and learners to co-construct a shared awareness and understanding about learning collaboratively.

Conclusion:

It is evident from my experience and our discussions with students that this observational cycle is beneficial to all involved in the process.  Participating in the process has impacted my teaching on a practical level as I will make changes to what I do in the classroom and how I do it.  More importantly I’ve gained a deeper shared understanding about learning and teaching as a result of the collaborative meetings with the students.  This observation unlocked the potential for us to understand our students and thereby allowing us to meet their learning needs on a deeper level.  However, learning still does depend on the students’ willingness to participate in the process.  By allowing students to become more aware of their own learning as a result of their participation in observation, consequently led to them being empowering to overcome self-identified barriers and leading to a better and more satisfactory teaching and learning experience for all.

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Adult nursing staff Stephanie Reynolds Cycle 2 observation reflection

Description

▪ I think the big thing for me was that the silence was very uncomfortable!!
▪ The teaching style of this session being observed was with class simulations. It was intended to be an opportunity for students to have a go at health promotion. My role as the lecturer within this session was to facilitate simulations with an actress (also a lecturer) in 3 scenarios.
▪ I had asked that I could be observed specifically on my facilitation skills, and the making of a safe environment for which students could learn, owing to the unusually large class size for this type of learning.
▪ I asked for volunteers yet contrary to previous sessions done this way, it seemed uncomfortable that no one volunteered and the silence seemed to be palpable.

Feelings
1. I felt uncomfortable that I might have put students into too much of a challenging situation, making them feel conscious of their performance in front of many class mates.

2. I was aware at one point of leaving out one side of the room because of where the podium was, so I decided to stand the other side, something I may have not been aware of was I not being observed, and having observed others knowing what sort of things come up.

Analysis 
Was it me or the students?
I compared to the session the day before where there were many willing volunteers. I hadn’t changed any style of teaching or circumstance, and I had made the statement of the safe environment, and that there is no right or wrong answer to giving health promotion. It was noted however prior to the session in a small group chat that there was a ripple of dissatisfaction from students who didn’t feel this style of learning was appropriate particularly in a large setting. There was still some confusion over this being their learning experience as opposed to having the skills or knowledge to do the job, and maybe lack of confidence was displayed in defensiveness.

How did I manage the silence?
I wanted volunteers not to pick on people, and thankfully I didn’t have to pick on people, but silence although uncomfortable seemed to be the best option, and I was keen not to let that silence be shown as uncomfortable to me, as though to apologise for putting them in this situation, knowing that my intentions are to support and help them, not make their lives difficult. After the session I used the ‘5 Whys’of root cause analysis to challenge my feelings here….

  1. Why did I feel the silence was uncomfortable? – Because it felt like I was trying to create an atmosphere of learning that was contrary to the feeling in the room
  2. Why was there an atmosphere in the room? – Because the students felt challenged.
  3. Why did the students feel challenged?  Because I was offering learning outside of their comfort Zone?
  4. Why was I offering learning outside there comfort zone?  – Because I am passionate about their learning – particularly of this subject.
  5. Why am I passionate about their learning in this subject? – Because I have rarely seen it done properly or at all by students/staff nurses in practice, in that I’m not sure it is even featured even though it is very important.

Evaluation – What was good/bad about the experience?

I reflected on my ability to draw out learning from students in a reflective way however an internal frustration was that with one particular scenario the students were missing the point on health promotion with Doris, in that they were going down the assessment route. My reflection on debriefing however was although I was tempted to I didn’t give answers, but promoted reflection.

My actions and management of those who took part was to reward them (with a chocolate) but also debriefing them in a positive way, starting by what they thought they did well, asking their class mates what they thought went well in order to encourage safe peer learning.  I also referred back to health promotion model, affirmed them and paraphrased.
I encouraged the problem solving approach by encouraging those who were questioning what they should do to actually have a go at interacting with the character.

There were some excellent interactions from students that exceeded expectation.  Students drew upon learning from other sessions and modules such as Self Harm and Sexual health.

Students learnt a lot about themselves either from participating or observing others, and the silence helped them review their anxieties.

Conclusion and Action Plan
Should I still ask for volunteers or pick on people? I think I will still go with the voluntary model as I have proved, despite silence there are ways of getting people to interact without the threat of being picked upon.
I will demonstrate giving health promotion and interact with a scenario to show that there are just simple skills needed in order to achieve Health promotion and also set the scene, which may also help with fostering that Safe learning environment.

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Adult nursing staff Lee Roberts Cycle 1 observation reflection

During the Chronic Wounds session, I felt comfortable and confident with the content.  I was mindful that this group had last received a wound session two weeks earlier than planned due to unforeseen guest lecturer absence. As such, I wanted to recap key learning from the previous wound session to ensure they felt prepared to further build upon theory. I felt the quiz at the start of the lecture was successful, and students appeared to enjoy the challenge of answering questions for prizes. I observed students, who do not often speak during large lectures, raising their hands to answer questions, and I was mindful of encouraging their engagement. On reflection, I feel this approach was beneficial in creating a safe learning environment where students felt comfortable to contribute to the session. This element of the session was met with laughter also, which I felt suggested students were beginning to relax before I moved onto more complex theory relating to chronic wounds.  My observer suggested that this approach was effective in encouraging students to contribute, but also acknowledge that answering questions appeared less pressured through humour and prizes.

Throughout the session, I explored anatomy and physiology relating to chronic wounds. I was concerned that this more complex information may be more difficult for some to grasp. I deliberately provided a flow diagram to break down the steps. Additionally I utilised the case study approach for students to try to apply this theory to practice. I continuously asked questions for the audience to clarify the groups understanding. On reflection, I still recognise the difficulty some students may have in admitting they do not fully understand the content covered when they are in large groups. I have concerns they are less likely to ask for clarification in these situations. Whilst my observe suggested that my encouraging responses to questions may support learners confidence, even if their questions are “off point”, I would still want to consider how I can confirm all students in the group have truly understood the content. Perhaps in future, tools such as online anonymous quizzes could alleviate this pressure for students, allowing them to record honest questions and answers. Due to room availability, it is difficult to remain behind following the session to clarify any points with students one to one. As such, I will consider inviting students to email me any questions / queries following sessions, to allow for this dialogue to continue.

I felt the use of media such as video clips and photographs were beneficial to clarify points discussed within the lecture. These were placed after the delivery of theoretical content to allow the students to better apply this new knowledge in a practical way. Following these, students appeared to relate to images / videos, confirming that they had “seen this in practice” for example.

I recognised the difficulty in delivering sessions utilising other lecturers teaching material. As a new member of the teaching team, I would be keen to change future presentations to suit my style of teaching and delivery. Due to these restrictions, I deliberately edited some information from pre-session slides from students to allow for greater discuss during lecturers. Following the session I released the post session slides to ensure students were provided with all of the information required. My observer suggested that this was an appropriate method in engaging learners, as answers were not provided in advance. When considering meeting students learning needs, I was conscious that those with learning disabilities would be required to receive content in advance. To achieve this, pre session slides and appropriate pre session reading material were provided one month in advance of the lecture to allow learns to complete preparation for this lecture. I recognise that some students will not complete this pre reading however; I am therefore giving consideration to alternative approaches such as online lectures and audio material, in the hopes that this is more readily accessible for learners from home, instead of attending the library.

On reflection of the peer observation process, I felt my observers support was incredibly valuable. I have a comfortable working relationship with my observer as he was my mentor during my initial probationary period. He allowed me to explore my findings of the lecture, and encouraged me to consider other points for future development. We discussed learning needs of students, but also considered the use of technology in sessions to aid the learners’ experience. We agreed that ownership of teaching material will also support my ongoing professional development, and I look forward to amending further module content to contribute to its development.

Following my post-observation discussion with my observer, we had the opportunity to meet with two students who observed the chronic wounds session also. I was excited to hear their perspective, and felt that it would be beneficial to explore students’ reflections on their learning during sessions. This would support my further development, and encourage me to consider lectures from another point of view.

During this open discussion with students and my observer, it was identified by students that the room for this lecture was too warm. They both explained that due to the heat in the room, they felt this impeded some of the learning experience. During this meeting, I reflected on how I may have manage this concern if it was raised to me during the session, however my actions would be limited due to room capacity, air condition control being in on a different site, and lack of windows in the room. This has encouraged me to consider how I assess student comfort during lectures. Whilst I am keen to ensure they are in a safe learning environment, and feel able to contribute, I could also consider asking about their comfort levels, perhaps asking for a “temperature check” during sessions. Such an approach may also allow me to address alternative needs such as longer or shorter breaks, and opportunities to move around the room (where space allows) to ensure these needs do not distract from the learning experience. This was not a point I was expecting, and initially I felt this session was not as positive as I had first hoped. However, on reflection I feel their perspective has allowed me to consider the overall experience of a two hour traditional lecture in such large groups, and I believe I will be able to make immediate changes to my teaching style as a result.

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Stephanie Reynolds – pre observation reflection

Initially I was really quite excited by the prospect of having this particular session evaluated and observed by students and staff. Health Promotion simulation is a new session we have introduced within the module and this will be the second run having trialled it last year and initial evaluations proved positive. This particular session will be the 5th lecture delivered in this way.

The style of this lecture which is predominantly simulation was born out of recognition that students find the concept of practising health promotion awkward, they don’t know how to, and rarely do they see it done well.  With Health promotion being such a big part of a nurses’ role in accordance with the NMC and National Guidance, it should not be overlooked, nor side lined as an ‘add on’ to practice.  The addition of health promotion to any nurses’ practice to me is associated with high quality care and confidence, where a nurse is comfortable in role and communication with patients in order to be able to offer choice. Therefore reflecting on previous delivery of this subject, talking to students about the importance of health promotion is really not enough if we are to demonstrate how it is to be done and thus practising it and reflecting on individual practice or performance.

The session is structured by first having a half an hour talk on how to deliver health promotion including reflecting on good or bad experiences, then offering 3 scenarios where students can interact with an actor (another lecturer) and have a go using the principles taught.

The session delivered this way is risky as owing to large class sizes the luxury of making the environment comfortable is limited.  When we ask students to volunteer to practice, we not only expect them to be vulnerable within that learning, but to be observed and critiqued by their peers of which there can be up to 100 in number. My role as facilitator I feel is to make the environment as safe as possible by being encouraging and adopting a reflective style.  I have decided this time around not to pick on students to undertake the task, but to ask for volunteers only, encouraging where necessary some of the interaction to tell me answers but to direct that line of thought to the patient actor.

For the observation, I want feedback from the colleague observer on how I made the environment safe, if there are any ways to improve, and what to do particularly when students weren’t successful in their efforts.  I have in previous sessions been very tempted to steer the outcomes of the scenarios and tell students the answers rather than allowing time for reflection and development of their own thinking. A previous session to this worked well, where students were excellent in drawing out and empowering the patients, thus getting the point of the learning outcome. If students don’t get the learning outcome, I’m not sure where to go with it, e.g do I tell them eventually or do I leave it for them to reflect….does it actually matter if they don’t achieve the learning outcome?  Sometimes it feels like I am hosting a guessing game as one of the scenarios in particular can be drawn out as students list a number of things they can do for the patient and miss the point of empowering the patient to do it for themselves.

It would be good to get both student and staff perspectives on this learning in particular and also gauge whether large groups inhibit the participation, or widen the possibility of observation.

Another aspect of learning or feedback that would be useful to know is what to do when students don’t readily volunteer as the silence can often be uncomfortable. Should I wait? Should I pick on people or should I do it myself?

From a student perspective I would like to know what learning was achieved from participating, and what learning was achieved by observing.  Could they relate back to the aspects of a health promotion model as they observed, and or reflected on their learning? And would they feel more confident in applying this to their practice and their care planning? To further expand this observation further it would be good if students could reflect how this session has influenced their practice?

Early Childhood Studies staff Zoe Lewis’s Cycle 1 observation experience

Being invited to join the project was exciting and we were keen to learn more about how the students viewed the programme, the lectures and the activities that we asked them to engage in. However, having received other types of feedback from the NSS and observations in my teaching career, I was a little nervous about the responses that we might receive and the potential for being judged negatively by the students. The training that both staff and students received went some way towards allaying these fears and it was good to know that this was intended to be a more open dialogic experience in which staff and students are able to learn from each other. My overall experience of cycle 1 has shown this to be the case and when I came to teach the observed lesson I found that I was not nervous in the way that I might have been during a traditional teaching observation in the past.

The first meeting with my teaching colleague and the researcher was a helpful opportunity to reflect on our aims as lecturers and what we were hoping to achieve in the first year of the degree programme. I learned more about my colleague’s philosophy and the ways in which our different approaches to learning and teaching were based on very similar values and beliefs. This has been an important guide for the rest of the project because personal circumstances meant that I had to complete the rest of cycle 1 on my own.

The two students were self-selected and this enabled different voices to be heard rather than those of the students who are already involved in other feedback forums etc. I think this has been an important factor in the findings from cycle 1 because these students are more representative of the cohort as a whole and they were able to offer some interesting insights.

Having completed their training the students were very keen to attend the first meeting and they had prepared a lengthy series of questions for me to answer. I was happy to follow their lead and their questions provided the structure for our discussion, although it was difficult to arrive at a focus for the first observation. They seemed to be more interested in me and my teaching rather than their learning or the activities that they were being asked to complete. As a result, I returned to the discussion that I had with my teaching colleague and ask them to focus their observation on the previous directed task and group discussion that was intended to be an opportunity for reflection on their prior reading.

The observation itself took place in a week that had particularly poor attendance from this year group across all of the modules and students has just been reminded of the importance of engagement for their future success on the programme. As a result, the attendance for my session was much higher than usual with a number of students who were there after several weeks of absence. Therefore, these issues of engagement were at the forefront of many students’ minds when the activities were taking place.

During the lecture, I was aware that the two students were observing and making notes, but I felt that it did not really impact on my teaching. This seemed to make the observation a more authentic record of the event, particularly as their fellow students were unaware that the observation was taking place. However, it does raise some ethical questions about those people who were included in the research without their consent and it would be helpful to address these issues in the meetings that take place before cycle 2.

The post observation meeting took much longer than planned because the students had prepared another lengthy set of questions for me. This felt rather like an interview, partly because my teaching partner was unable to join us, and the dynamics of the relationship were affected by the imbalance. However, both students were keen to find out about the ways in which I managed challenging behaviour and encouraged group members to engage in discussion. This topic of engagement and managing relationships within the teaching and learning context became the main focus and it fitted well with the original focus for cycle 1. The students were able to contribute some helpful suggestions about the best ways to encourage their peers to undertake directed tasks and wider reading. They highlighted the importance of their own relationships with their fellow students and the ways that these can impact on their learning. This helped me to reflect on the ways in which we might build a more active community of learners within the programme by concentrating more effort on those students who, like these two, are keen to engage and develop as effective practitioners.

After the meeting, I reflected on the positive relationships that I had built with these two students and the ways in which they felt that they had contributed to the teaching and learning on the programme. This was a rewarding experience and I am keen to develop it further during cycle 2. However, I am also aware that these students have now submitted work which will not be assessed anonymously and I am conscious of the ways in which my role on the project could potentially influence my opinions as I approach the marking task. It will be important to seek the support of my colleagues to manage this imbalance and ensure that I am fair and consistent with all of the students as their assessor.

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