Reflective practice for teachers
What is reflective practice?
Reflective practice in teaching means considering what you do as a teacher in the classroom, considering why you do it and considering if it is working. In other words, it is the process of self-observation and self-evaluation for teachers.
The process of reflective practice is a systematic reviewing process for all teachers which allows you to make links from one experience to the next, making sure your students make maximum progress.
It is a cycle that must be repeated needs.
- Self-assess the effect of your teaching on learning
- Think of new ways to teach to improve the quality of learning
- Introduce the new ideas
- Repeat the process
Reflective practice is ‘learning through and from experience towards gaining new insights of self and practice’ (Finlay, 2008).
Reflection is an important part of teaching and learning. The aim of reflective practice is to make you more aware of your own professional knowledge and action by removing the error of assumption using critical analysis of own actions to enhance the learning experience of students in the class. It is a process that encourages you to work with others as you can share best practice and draw on others for support. Ultimately, the reflection makes sure all students learn more effectively as learning can be tailored to them.
The rest of the article will talk about how teachers can make use of reflective practice in more detail. Discussing about the practices, benefits and explore some practical examples.
Advantages of using reflective practice
Reflective practice can help improve teacher’s ability to understand how their students learn and figure out the best ways to teach them. By reflecting on own teaching style, teacher’s can identify barriers to learning faced by students. This will then help teachers create lessons which will reteach content that students have not been able to understand allowing them to overcome barriers through development.
Adapting to reflective practice will help teachers have a wider range of skills as they develop ways to teach. This will develop confidence in teachers and they will be able to find new ways to teach and deliver the subject knowledge.
Reflecting will develop problem-solving skills. Self-questioning the way a teacher delivers their lesson, they will find new solutions allowing them to become more flexible with teaching. It not only improves teacher’s confidence reflective practice but also helps create confident classrooms. The new methods of teaching will also challenge students to learn and adapt to new ways of learning. This will encourage your students to take up new challenges and adapt to them, that will develop a secure and confident knowledge base.
Having reflective practice encourages innovation
Reflective practice helps in making lessons that suit the needs of the class. Teachers can create and explore new ideas to change how they approach with teaching to gain maximum success.
This will allow students to have a richer learning experience. Making them think more creatively, imaginatively and resourcefully, and be ready to adapt to new ways and methods of thinking.
Having reflective practice encourages engagement
Being reflective can help a teacher challenge their own practice as they start the process in which they have to justify decisions they are making and rationalise choices made.
This helps teachers to understand many different perspectives and viewpoints which then creates an impact on how they deliver the lecture once they have improved it. The viewpoints that teachers take into consideration can come from students, their own preferences, developments or from their colleagues.
When a teacher is aware of their students’ needs, they can make learning more tailored to the needs of their students increasing the learning in classrooms.
How to implement reflective practice?
Asking for help from colleagues can be a good starting point. Teachers can invite their colleagues into their classrooms to collect information or feedback about their lesson. It can be done through observation of the task or through note taking. This will help in relating back to the area that has been identified by a teacher to reflect upon. For example, a teacher might ask their colleague to identify when and how students contribute the most in the class? or what are the different patterns of interaction occurring in a classroom and how does the teacher handle the class?.
Another good way to get information is by using video or audio recordings of classroom lessons. These recordings will provide information for reflection. Teachers may do things in class which they are not consciously aware of. For example, using too many fillers while presenting. These recordings will help teachers understand
- How much do they talk?
- What are they talking about?
- Are instructions and explanations clear to students?
- How much time do they allocate to student talk?
- How do they respond to student talk?
- Video recordings can be useful in showing teachers aspects of their own behavior.
- Where and how do they stand?
- Who do they speak to?
- How did students react?
Teachers can also ask students about what they think and how they feel about what goes on in the classroom. Student opinions and perceptions can add valuable perspective. This can be done with simple questionnaires or learning diaries for example, once teachers have gathered the relevant information recorded about what goes on in their classroom, what can they do?
teachers may notice patterns occurring in their teaching through observation. They may also have noticed things which previously went unnoticed. Feedback from students may come as a surprise for teachers. All these factors can affect ideas for changes to implement.
Start talking about what has been identified with staff members and even a friend. This will help the teachers to come up with ideas for how to do things differently. By talking with friends and colleagues teachers will be able to gather even more idea and would be able to discuss what they thought would be a nice fit.
Teachers can decide to focus on certain areas and in order to do so reading about those topics will help teachers. Visiting a website that has articles which can help teacher is a good place to start. If teachers are more serious about increasing their knowledge in the field they can also choose to go for online courses. Small steps towards improvement will help teacher increase the quality of material that they deliver in the classrooms. For example, a mathematics teacher can use websites to read about different mathematicians and learn about their significance in history. This will equip teachers with additional material to teach from in class rather only sticking to the course outline.
What is the best way to learn about something than to ask about it? Online forums, social media, and asking colleagues can help teachers clear out any queries and also get knowledge on how they can improve themselves.
In conclusion, being reflective is a continuous process, it is a cyclical process, because once changes are implemented, then teachers need to be reflective and evaluative the changes, so the cycle continues.
- What is the teacher doing?
- Why should the teacher do it?
- How effective has it been?
- What is the reaction of students to the change?
- How can the teacher do it in a better way?