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The nature of reflective practice in Grade R
Connelly, Ailsa Sally
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The quality of education in South Africa has drawn critical attention as children continue to perform poorly as they progress through school. Reflective practice is promoted and implemented internationally as a method to improve quality teaching and learning. Nationally a growing interest in the implementation of reflective practice is reflected in the Department of Basic Education’s suggestion that teachers make use of reflective practice to inform their classroom planning. The objective of this study was to investigate the knowledge and understanding Grade R teachers have of reflective practice. As Grade R is the first year and the foundation of a child’s school career, it was of interest to explore whether teachers reflect on their practice. This study was located in an interpretivist paradigm using a case study design. Two Grade R teachers were interviewed using semi-structured interviews. Their annual, termly and weekly planning was analysed alongside the transcripts of the interviews, using thematic analysis to identify common themes of reflective practice in Grade R. Five themes emerged from the analysis, which enabled the exploration of the benefits and challenges of using reflective practice in Grade R. These five themes allowed for the development of the idea of using reflective practice as a means for improving teaching and learning in Grade R. The teachers interviewed value the idea of reflective practice as a way to meet the needs of the children. They describe it as an innate aspect of their teaching. However, they have a tacit understanding and knowledge of reflective practice and it was not evident in the documents they use to inform their teaching. For reflective practice to be encouraged teachers need support from within their schools and from the Department of Basic Education.