Pollard A with Black-Hawlins K, Cliff Hodges G, Dudley P, James M, Linklater H, Swaffiled S, Swann M, Turner F, Warwick P, WInterbottom M and Wolpert M (2014) Reflective Teaching in Schools. 4th Edition, London: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 978 1 4411 9170 0
Pollard A (ed) (2014) Readings for Reflective Teaching in Schools 2nd Edition London: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 978 1 4725 0974 1
It is very difficult to write a review of effectively two texts, each of some 500 pages. For a practitioner the core text is the ‘Reflective Teaching in Schools’, which is supplemented by what have been selected as essential readings contained in the second text. For academics, the supplementary readings in ‘Readings for Reflective Teaching’ are essentially a library collection of seminal texts and concepts enabling an academic analysis of the approaches recommended in the first text. This does sound like it could be a recipe for confusion, but careful cross referencing to recommended readings, linked to personal ‘reflective activities’ and ‘expert questions’ do guide the reader through. Although billed a text for trainee teachers and of some use to experienced professionals, I would argue that it is a text worth keeping handy for constant reference. Practitioners can use the index and contents page to find advice, guidance and background to a multitude of ‘real’ issues faced periodically as a teacher. The reference list in the first text is itself 33 pages long, indicating how well referenced the text is. Add to this the 130 readings contained in the second volume, it is an obvious statement to make that there is comprehensive coverage of a multitude of issues. I really must commend the cross referencing here, enabling reading at all sorts of different ‘levels’.
The introduction of the first text claims that the book provides ‘practical, evidence-based guidance on key issues. Although mention is made of strategies, the guidance is more at an overarching level. Diagrams assist in synthesising these approaches, and it is clear that the Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP) principles are used to justify and inform each section. There is no doubting the rigour, depth and validity of recommendations, and the reflective activities enable the reader to develop personalised understanding of his/her own.
The four sections are very relevant and reflect a professional learning journey. The four chapters in section 1 assist the reader to develop a personal, philosophical stance, giving a stimulus to thought on professional identity, learning processes, how teaching contributes to learning and identifying key principles and foundations for effective teaching and learning. The second sections looks closely at practical issues, such as how to create conditions and a climate conducive to learning. The practical issues related to managing behaviour are covered here. Pedagogy, curriculum, planning, assessment are covered in section 3 and the seminal texts contained in the second book provide an opportunity to relate practice to policy and beliefs about learning. As in all sections the selected texts cover key writers Vygotsky, Bruner, Skinner, Bruner as well as commentators on policy such as Alexander.
For CPD purposes the last two sections enable reflection on the consequences of different courses of action and also suggest how understanding as a professional can be deepened. The structure of the book(s) does mirror the belief in a staged development process for teachers – along the lines of Huberman and Furlong and Maynard’s work. (such texts are included in the ‘Readings’)
The sheer volume of work contained in the books is at first overwhelming. However, as intimated earlier, the books are to ‘dip into’ as interest and personal needs arise. I do not recommend reading from the beginning to the end. Indeed this would be impossible as the ‘Readings’ relate to sections of the first text. Readers will be swapping books as and when deeper explanations are needed. I would say however, that the books should sit on every professional academic’s and academic professionals’ shelves.
What is more, there is also an accompanying website reflectiveteaching.co.uk/ – which does not add to the books, but does provide syntheses of issues for further investigation.
I began by alluding to the awe and some trepidation one may have when beginning the reading fo these texts. However, the structure and organisation work well. I really do think that this fourth edition is a must for all involved in teacher education at all stages of their career in which.
Professor Kit Field
University of Wolverhampton