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Answers, please

Teachers must begin to look at themselves if they are to be effective in the classroom, Kate Coutts, head of Uyesound primary in Shetland, said in leading one of the seminar sessions.

There are only three questions the "reflective practitioner" needs to ask:

* What did I do in my class this year?

* What impact has it had on pupils?

* What changes do I want to make for next year?

Ms Coutts underlined the importance of "critical incidents analysis", a tool for teachers to think carefully about something that has changed them in their professional career, which can be a very small incident but a significant one.

She asked whether it is possible to spot a reflective practitioner by the way he or she talks about teaching and acknowledged this was difficult. Ms Coutts cited one study which noted: "Most teachers are unaware of reflective practice because it occurs unconsciously during class.

"A teacher who reflects too often and for significant periods of time in the classroom may be creating a dysfunctional classroom."

Ms Coutts added: "Discussion of successes and failures with a group, such as other staff, can lead to vulnerability."

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