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Learning

Introduction
            For the past two years, I have been studying in a university and currently working at a primary school in London. During this period, I have encountered experiences, which had thought me several new learnings. These in turn have allowed me to become a better individual. Through the significant changes that happened to me, I was able to enhance my behavior and skills. The experiences I had during those years are also likely to help me develop into an effective professional in the future. In this paper, I will discuss the stages of my professional development including the specific learnings and changes that I was able to gain for the past two years. Furthermore, my professional development will be analyzed and evaluated through the use of relevant learning theories.
           
Knowledge and Understanding
            Presently, I am studying at a university while working in a primary school in London located in London. For the past two years of studying and working, I was able to achieve significant changes in my personal and professional life. During my first year, most of my focus was centered on adaptation, particularly to the academic demands of my chosen course. Considering that I would have to attend my classes, submit requirements and study for examinations, the first year of the professional development allowed me to develop my time management skills. Through this change, I was able to learn how to make study plans that works for me. Moreover, I was able to budget my time and allot sufficient attention to more important priorities. 
            This professional development was passed on to my second year; however, aside from developing the ability to budget my time and set priorities, I was also able to develop a certain degree of confidence and perseverance towards my studies and other responsibilities. This perhaps is attributed to the fact that I was able to employ studying and working pattern that suit my needs. Having been exposed to the actual work load that the university and my work site demand, I was able to perform without the need for adjustments. With this, I realize I am able to concentrate more on what I have to do and accomplish.

            Considering that it has been my second year, academic works have naturally become more challenging; nonetheless, compared to last year, I am more calm and organized in handling them. During my first year, I was able to develop study skills, personal capabilities and values through the different demands of my course. Having learned these important skills, I was able to utilize them easily to my second year academic demands. During this time, I have also become more sensitive to my inner strengths; I was able to make full use of my self-awareness and self-evaluation capabilities, especially in performing different tasks in school and at work. Through self-evaluation, I was able to clearly identify what my goals are and how I could improve myself to achieve them.

            Within two years of my professional journey, I was able to learn how to optimize various learning opportunities. One of which is through the participation to various seminars. Through this learning opportunity, I was able to learn by means of asking questions and discussing relevant topics. The seminars allowed me to become open to different ideas as well. Tutorial is another learning opportunity that contributed to my professional development. This has generally helped me to progress through my course; moreover, this has also taught me how to plan for the sessions. Setting and meeting deadlines are also additional skills that I gained from this learning opportunity.

One of the important skills I gained from doing tutorials is to integrate my studies and school experiences together with my work at the primary school. Specifically, I was able to understand more of the different situations I encountered at work and was able to resolve them through learning application. Likewise, I was able to understand my course more through my work experiences. In general, I was able to develop professionally during my second year as I was able to improve both my studying and working achievements by integrating my experiences and learned skills effectively.

Analysis
            The description of my knowledge and understanding has clearly shown how I developed personally and professionally for the past two years. To support this description, certain learning theories can be used. Howard Gardner is one of the known theorist on learning styles and intelligence. Among his known works include the theory on Multiple Intelligence. According to Gardner(1983), intelligence is pertains to the ability of an individual to solve problems; in addition, intelligence can be defined through different categories. Some of these classifications of intelligence include spatial, musical, mathematical and linguistic abilities.

One of the intelligence types identified by Gardnerwas personal intelligence. Based from my professional development, much of my development had been through the use of this intelligence category. In particular, I was able to optimize my intrapersonal intelligence, which focuses on understanding one’s feeling and motivations. Through this intelligence category I was able to clearly identify my goals and work to achieve them. Aside from this, I was also able to use spatial intelligence to develop personally and professionally. Spatial intelligence refers to the generation of mental images to resolve certain problems. In order to overcome the issues I have encountered at work, I made use of my learnings at the university as a student. Through this, I was able to make practical applications of my studies. On the other hand, spatial intelligence also allowed me to understand my course more through my work experiences. Through Gardner’s theory, I could say that my journey towards professional development is enhanced through the utilization of my inherent skills and mental capabilities.

I recently took a learning style questionnaire assessment to understand my learning capabilities and potentials more. The result indicated that I am a reflector. According to Peter Honey and Alan Mumford (1986), learning styles can be classified in accordance to how individuals prefer to learn. These styles include the activist, theorist, reflector and the pragmatist. The theorists describe reflectors as those who learn from activities while listening and observing. These are the individuals who prefer to be given the chance to gather and analyze the information first before acting or commenting; they tend to spend time to review the situation before developing a conclusion.

The preference of the reflectors to ponder on experiences or situations enables them to analyze things though various perspectives. Individuals considered as reflectors are thoughtful and take into account all possible options or angles of the situation before making a move. As they tend to collect situational data first and delay the generation of conclusions, they are often described as the cautious type. During meetings, reflectors often take the seat at the back; while people are in action, they appear to enjoy observing their movements. Whenever there is a discussion, reflectors tend to listen to others’ ideas first before formulating their own. In general, they are the individuals who are slightly distant and tolerant; moreover, they seem to prefer a low profile when tasked on group activities.

This learning style typology speaks so much of my professional development for the past two years. Specifically, the learning opportunities that I have participated in showed my features as a reflector. Rather than insist on my own ideas, I tend to listen and observe more. By means of the ideas of others, I am able to learn the different aspects of a subject matter; in turn, this allowed me to become more open-minded and knowledgeable on certain topics. Moreover, my preferred learning style allowed me to combine my own and other’s ideas, resulting to a generalization that I could easily understand and relate to.

A relevant learning theory is Kolb’s (1984) Experiential Learning Model (ELM). According this model, the learning cycle is made up of four modes of learning. These include concrete experience (CE), reflective observation (RO), abstract conceptualization (AC) and active experimentation (AE). These learning modes are placed at the ends of two interconnecting continua, forming quadrants. This then became the basis of Kolb for his learning styles, which are derived from the combination of two learning modes. These learning styles include the diverger (CE and RO), the converger (AC and AE), the assimilator (RO and AC) and the accommodator (AE and CE). Basically, the divergers prefer learning that involves imaginative problem-solving; convergers are more on practical solutions; assimilators prefer rational theory building; and accommodators are into hand-on experience.

Based from Kolb’s learning modes, my professional development and learning is more patterned on the reflector mode – one who learns through perception. Atkinson and Murrell (1988) described this learning mode further by stating that reflectors are observers who formulate ideas by incorporating their observations into logical theories. Similar to the theory of Honey and Mumford, Kolb (1985) noted that reflectors are learners who analyze situations and ideas through their different angles in order for them to form opinions. Reflectors are the type of learners who prefer lectures and other similar learning activities. In group tasks, they attempt to comprehend the different perspectives raised by their group members. When asked to write essays, reflectors would typically prefer to conduct preliminary research first before making the content of the paper. For examinations, reflectors tend to prefer compare-contrast and argumentative questions as these would require the analysis of both side of the issue. Among Kolb’s learning style, my professional development is characterized by the features of an assimilator. Holley and Jenkins (1993) stated that this learning style rely more on the use of logic and inductive reasoning to build theories. Assimilators are effective in understanding a wide range of information and organizing them into logical forms.

Kolb’s theories on learning styles emphasize that the development of a person is significantly dependent on their learning preferences and inherent capabilities. It is then my ability to observe and integrate my observations for my own development that serve as an important contributor to my development as a person and as a professional. The process of my professional development is also influenced by my own potentials as well as the learnings I gained from my experiences at work and in school. As a reflective learner, I was able to effectively integrate all these learning, which in turn allowed me to develop my own skills, behavior and values.

Evaluation
            From the description of my two-year experience as a student and worker, I was able to undergo various positive transformations. Most of these developments were centered on the improvement of my studying skills and attitude. Initially, I was more focused on adjusting and learning various methods to make myself a better student and individual. However, as time goes, I was able to concentrate more to my studies and work responsibilities as I was already able to develop ways on how to cope with such challenges. Using various learning theories I was able to realize that the use of inherent potentials and intelligence can greatly influence the outcome of ones professional development. Moreover, theories stressed that using my preferred learning style enabled me to integrate my learnings and experiences in my school tasks as well as in handling various work situations.


            Through all these, I was able to manage my time wisely, develop effective study plans as well as enhance my listening and observing skills. In general, it is then important that individual clearly determine their own inherent skills and learning preferences; these should then be used in order for them to adapt effectively to varying situations. By doing so, more useful skills can be obtained, leading to a more fruitful professional development. 


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