Once in a while, teachers start thinking about the quality of their work. Moreover, the demanding, competitive, and output-centred culture of education often trickles into our teaching where the focus is on the summative product rather than the process of learning. In such cases, reflective teaching principles spring to mind. Reflective teaching is a process where teachers think over their teaching practices, analyzing how something was taught and how the practice might be improved or changed for better learning outcomes. Reflective learning is a form of education in which the student reflects upon their learning experiences. Let’s discuss both of these approaches in detail.
The reflective teacher understands the things that influence the way he/she teaches. He/she takes into account the theories about teaching, class size, student age, curriculum, textbooks, access to technology and other factors that shape the class. She/he is well aware of the problems the learners have and tries to find solutions to them. Here are some nice tips which will help every teacher to become more reflective.
- Peer Observation
Through this method, teachers observe their colleagues’ lessons, note down useful methods and techniques of teaching practice and try to implement them into his/her teaching routine.
- Keeping a Journal
A teacher may keep notes in the journal. These notes might include the information about what he or she has managed to do in the lesson and how, what went wrong (not according to the plan, not as it was intended), whether the teaching materials were effective, etc.
Sample journal phrases may be:
“I could not finish my lesson today because …”
“I spent a lot of time on examples.”
“I asked the students to write some exercises on the board. That was very boring”.
- Student Feedbacks
The information that students can give about the learning process is sometimes underestimated. Their feedback can be of great value for every teacher. Students feedback might help teachers to understand what should be added to the lessons. Here is a sample of a student survey:
- Do you like the stories we are reading?
- Would you like to spend more class time on (speaking, listening, reading, writing, or practicing vocabulary)?
- What do you like best about this class?
- What do you like least about this class?
- In class, I like to learn by games. 1 2 3 4 5
- I like to study by myself 1 2 3 4 5
- I like to study in groups 1 2 3 4 5
The recorded data of the teaching process may serve really well for a reflective teacher. Teachers can rewatch videos, see what body language they use, what mistakes they are making in terms of classroom arrangement, student management, etc.
- Action Research
After reflecting (observing/gathering evidence) and analyzing lessons, teachers should identify one problem or area of teaching they want to improve or “act” on. In order to solve the problems, teachers may attend some conferences, workshops, ask for advice from colleagues, read articles and books.
For students it is very important to recognize their strengths and weaknesses, reflect back on the progress and find out the gaps they need to fill in to be better learners. Here is a list of activities to help students through their reflection process.
- Exit tickets
They are designed to collect feedback about a lesson from students. An example of an exit ticket is to ask a student to summarize the key points of the lesson, ask a question about what they have learnt, etc.
- Sticky notes
Once a week, students write down one reflection they have about the week on a sticky note. They would then stick their reflection statement on the wall in the classroom. Students would then do a gallery walk where they explore the reflections that were placed around the classroom. Later these feedbacks are discussed open class or individually.
A teacher records students during presentations or speaking activities. Later they watch themselves to get insights into their progress.
- Writing Portfolios
Students keep a track of their writing assignments in a folder to reflect back on their progress and the areas they need to work on.
You can read more on reflective learning here
Both students and teachers need to take time for self-reflection to have fruitful results by enjoying the teaching/learning process fully.