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Researchers explore bumpy moments

Researchers explore how working with new teachers' 'bumpy moments' can be useful professional development for new teachers
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This step includes an academic paper based on the research of Molly Romano and her work with early career teachers. The reference is listed below and we have attached a PDF of the full paper.

If you have any problems accessing the paper, senior lecturer Steph Ainsworth, has provided a short summary of the key points below.

Every day is different when you are a teacher. However hard you try to plan lessons which you hope will lead seamlessly into rich and meaningful experiences for your students, things often don’t turn out as you expected. The need to react on the spot when things don’t quite go to plan is one of the things that makes teaching challenging, but reflection on such ‘bumpy moments’ can serve as an important stimulus for professional growth. Education researcher, Molly Romano, defines ‘bumpy moments’ in teaching as classroom incidents which ‘require the teacher to engage in reflection to make an immediate decision about how to respond to a particular problem in practice’ (2006:974)1.

In her work with elementary teachers in the US, she identified three key categories of such moments: incidents relating to classroom management, instances where teachers felt unprepared for the lesson and problems relating to time management. Romano found that while these ‘bumpy moments’ were tricky to manage at the time, leading to teachers feeling ‘frazzled’ (p. 982) and questioning their professional abilities, (e.g. asking themselves, ‘Should I have been adequately prepared?’ (p. 982)), these incidents were potentially very useful vehicles for exploring students’ thoughts, belief and knowledge around teaching. Romano argues that by reflecting on the ‘bumpy moments’ which occur during their everyday practice, you can gain greater insight into your decision-making processes and the assumptions that underpin them, ultimately leading to ways to bring about change within your professional practice.

It is suggested that as well as reflecting on these moments on your own, it can be useful to share them with other teachers, leading to a rich professional dialogue and opening up new perspectives and avenues for professional growth. So next time you are experiencing a troublesome behaviour management issue or your lesson ‘goes to pot’, see it as a valuable learning experience and take time to reflect on what happened later on – share your reflections with your fellow teachers if you can. If nothing else, people always find it comforting to hear about other people’s hiccups!


  1. Romano, ME. “Bumpy moments” in teaching: Reflections from practicing teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education. 2006; 22(8):973-985
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