This post is a little different form the normal ones for a couple of reasons. First, it’s not an in-class activity, so much as an after-class one. Second, it’s actually a portfolio task for the IH Online Teacher Training Course that I’m doing at the moment. So, two birds with one stone and all that…
This week’s input on the course has focused on reflection – whys and hows and sharing ideas and experiences. Here’s what’s come up this week…
1. It’s personal – mostly.
Reflection is something we do ourselves. Whether we think about classes we’ve just done or ones we did years ago, we have an intrinsic understanding of the class, the planning that went into it, how the students reacted and how it could have been better.
But our reflection can be influenced by students, colleagues and observations, all of which give us different perspectives on our classes.
2. There are so many different ways to reflect!
Journals and blogs – keeping an ongoing written record of our own experiences.
Lesson reports – an organised, formal record of what happened in the class.
Surveys and questionnaires – directed at students, these can help the teacher see the class from a different perspective.
Recording lessons – Generally not a popular one in my experience, but using audio or video to record yourself in class can be really interesting.
Observation – Colleagues can help us focus on parts of our teaching that maybe we hadn’t considered before.
Action Research – Working on one particular aspect with a class can really help us to see progress in an area.
3. It can have it’s downsides…
In teaching, we are trained to constantly assess ourselves and be critical of our classes. We’re encouraged to find positives too of course, but in my experience people tend to focus on what went wrong in class, rather than what went right.
This can lead to teachers being overly-critical and always thinking that lesson could have been better. Well, yes, maybe it could have. But no lesson is perfect. It’s essential that we find positives as well as negatives.
4. …but it’s really advantageous!
Nobody is a great teacher when they start out. We lack knowledge, experience and technique. This all comes in time, but without identifying the gaps in our abilities, it’s impossible to get better.
I look back and cringe at many classes from years ago, but I try not to be to harsh on myself. I didn’t know then what I know now. Similarly, in 5 years’ time I’ll hopefully be able to look back on my teaching now and see areas I have improved in.
We should be proud of the fact that we work in an industry where CPD is actively encouraged.
How do you reflect on your teaching? What do you find most useful? What informs your teaching the most? Add a comment and let me know!
I’ll add more to this post once I’ve had time to think about it….