To become a better version of yourself, you must embrace feedback and criticism and reflect on your own teaching.
We make the biggest impact on any aspect of our lives when we think about our thinking, behavior, implementation, actions, and reactions. How often do you think about your practice? I’m not talking about just one-sided reflection. I am asking about self-reflection. Oxford dictionary defines self-reflection as meditation or serious thought about one’s character, actions, and motives. Do you really understand what is means to reflect on your action? John Dewey (1933) describes reflection as having two interconnected parts. The first is “(1) a state of doubt,hesitation, perplexity, mental difficulty, in which thinking originates, and (2) an act of searching, hunting, inquiring, to find material that will resolve the doubt, settle and dispose of the perplexity” (p. 12). Think back to a time when you were learning something new..to ride a bike, practicing a new dance step, to draw or paint. What steps did you follow as you worked to develop your expertise? Write them down and then think about whether you follow those same steps as you work to grow and develop your skills in the classroom. Reflection does not consist of just one step. There are stages involved in this process. When an educator truly begins to practice self-reflection, they use carefully crafted, intentional steps and data to carefully scrutinize all aspects of teaching and learning.
Stages of Self-Reflection: Take a moment to reflect on the method that you currently use to measure the effectiveness of your instructional practice as you read through this four-step process for self-reflection. Reflective teaching is an example of professional development which you can attain on their your when you examine their own practice.
The process of reflection comes with a cycle to follow:
- Teach: Although when you see the word teach, it seems so simple. Those of us within the profession, realize all too well, that this is far from being true. Teaching is the end result of meticulous planning which involves teachers considering all aspects of the Instructional Core, which begins with teachers unpacking the standards and breaking them into small teachable chunks, considering the academic levels of students and scaffolds you will include to help ensure that all students are able to engage with grade-level content, determining how students will engage with the content, and reviewing future assessments to align instruction with the rigor of the standard and assessment.
- Self-assess: Use data and learner outcomes to assess the overall effectiveness of teaching and learning. Reflect on instructional strategies, the level of student engagement, and the percentage of students who mastered the lesson standard. Before deciding on whether to continue using the same instructional strategies in subsequent lessons, review student benchmarks, diagnostic, and previous assessment data to determine if students are making adequate progress towards meeting the academic goals that have been set by your state standards and/or during feedback conversations with students.
- Unmask the Truth: This is the hardest step for us all. Mezirow (1991) created the continuum of transformational self-reflection. The third stage is what I have coined, “intent”. Intent involves reflecting on evidence of pedagogical improvements in knowledge and understanding as well as improvement of instructional practices. Within this step, educators are looking for trends, good or bad, and thoroughly thinking about whether what they are implementing is truly working to help students learn and grow. After determining the related trends, if you determine that the data supports negative impacts on student outcomes, be willing to conduct research to find new ways of teaching that can improve the quality of learning within your classroom.
- Work to Reverse or Duplicate the Findings:
- Duplicating: After analyzing data, if you determine that trends are favorable, continue using the planning process, teaching strategies, and student engagement strategies during the next week. Try these ideas in practice
- Reversing: To help to counteract the negative trends found within your data analysis, decide which actions need to change whether it altering the methods you use to plan instruction, implementing new teaching and learner engagement strategies, or a combination. Then begin the self-reflection cycle all over again.
As you ponder over your current practices and reflect on whether you are using currently implementing all four stages in the self-reflection cycle, consider the following:
- How often do I think about my level of expertise in the classroom?
- If not, what is preventing me from using the reflection process?
- What can I put in place to hold yourself accountable?
- What method am I using to track my progress?
- Should I begin to keep a daily/weekly journal, develop a chart to track your progress, or have an accountability partner?
Resource: The first volume of the book, Educator Reflection Tips is filled with ways that will help you along the self-reflection journey. The chapters take you on a journey towards think about on how you build relationships with students, the actions you are taking to create an antiracism classroom, whether you are using data to effectively drive instructional decisions, and developing a student-focused feedback loop, just to name a few. Lastly, Volume #1 will provide you with tips, resources, and strategies to strengthen your instructional practices.
You can read the first chapter for free: https://a.co/1S2z1s3. Go ahead. Go ahead give it a try.
If you like it consider, joining me for #BookCampPD on November 1st and 8th on Twitter at 6:30pm CST so that we can reflect together.
Dewey, J. (1933). How we think: A restatement of the relation of reflective thinking to the education
process. Boston, MA: DC Health.
Mezirow J. (1991). Transformative dimensions of adult learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.