Reflection is the process of reviewing what you have already done and extracting lessons and principles from these various experiences. Surprisingly, this is a commonly forgotten skill in teaching. Teachers are so busy preparing for their next class or the next day, that sometimes they do not take a minute to see what works for them and their students. Through the process of reflection, a teacher begins to grow and develop as an instructor. Reflection helps teachers to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Some basic questions to consider when reflecting on your teacher include the following…
What did I do?
Why did I do it
How did it go
Where do I go from here?
These kinds of questions can be addressed in a journal or in whatever way works for you. As time progresses, it becomes natural to reflect and develop a course of action for the future. Another term for this concept is mental planning, which is a focus on long-term planning instead of daily planning. Experience teachers look more at the big picture of the course outline and course syllabus instead of focusing on the day-to-day lesson plan. This focus on the broader picture is due to experience and is important in student achievement.
In the beginning, it is important for people who are new to teaching to focus clearly on providing day-to-day teaching with the end goals in mind. Knowing where you are going is only as useful as knowing how you will get there. Goals are good but it is the daily planning that gets you to your goal. While all this is happening, it is beneficial to think about how things are going in the classroom
Reflection may be one of the most important skills for teaching because it is through this trait that a teacher can identify their strengths and weaknesses. It is doubtful that a teacher is strong in all of the skills mentioned in this blog so far. Through reflection, a teacher can learn how to maximize their strengths while finding ways to develop and compensate for their weaknesses. Just knowing what you are good and bad t gives you an advantage when teaching. However, this self-discovery happens through reflecting on one’s teaching.
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See also Kemp’s article on the use of journals to raise learner awareness and develop academic listening skills. https://academic.oup.com/eltj/article/64/4/385/389211?searchresult=1
The context and purposes may be different, but the principles and benefits are fundamentally the same.
If you are a reflective practitioner you will no doubt be locked into cycles of plan-do-review. This is in effect a process of pedagogic action research, although you (and your institution) may not recognise it as such, and may not explicitly link it with your much-needed process of personal and professional development. And yet, when the full potential of action research is embedded in both personal and institutional processes, it can create benefits ranging from positive changes through small-scale activity to whole-institution incremental developments in policy and practice.
I had the privilege of convening an Action Research Consortium (ARC) at one HEI where I worked, and wrote a chapter about the experience in a chapter, as follows:
Kumar, A. (2010) Chapter 18, p. 254 ‘Supporting action research as a CPD process’, in Atlay, M. and Coughlin, A. (eds.) Creating communities: developing, enhancing and sustaining learning communities across the University of Bedfordshire. Luton: University of Bedfordshire.
I’m now freelancing as a consultant so I don’t know if the ARC has been sustained – unfortunately a great many initiatives in HE are a flash in the pan and do not get consolidated. I’m sure however that it can be replicated elsewhere and is a sustainable model.