Reflection refers to an activity or process in which an experience is recalled, considered, and evaluated, usually in relation to a broader purpose. It is a response to past experience and involves conscious recall and examination of the experience as a basis for evaluation and decision-making and as a source for planning and action. Bartlett (1990) points out that becoming a reflective teacher involves moving beyond a primary concern with instructional techniques and "how to" questions and asking "what" and "why" questions that regard instructions and managerial techniques not as ends in themselves, but as part of broader educational purposes.
Reflective teaching means looking at what you do in the classroom, thinking about why you do it, and thinking about if it works - a process of self-observation and self-evaluation. By collecting information about what goes on in our classroom, and by analysing and evaluating this information, we identify and explore our own practices and underlying beliefs. This may then lead to changes and improvements in our teaching.
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Reflective teaching is therefore a means of professional development which begins in our classroom.
Why it is important
Beginning the process of reflection
Line Managers feedback
Why it is important
Sometimes l tell friends that "My lesson went well" or "My learners didn't seem to understand" my lesson or "My learners were so badly behaved today."
Without much time spent focussing on or discussing what has happened, sometimes l tend to jump to conclusions about why things happened. Reflective practice therefore allows me to ponder over implications why the lesson went well or why the lesson did not go well. To improve upon my practice, l do the following:
Keep Teacher's dairy
This is the easiest way to begin a process of reflection since it is purely personal. After each lesson l write in a notebook about what happened. I also describe my own reactions and feelings that l observed on the part of the learners. I usually begin by posing questions about what l have observed.
I sometimes sit in colleagues' lesson to observe the way they teach in other disciplines like mathematics, English and ICT. This provides me an opportunity to see other's teaching in order to expose me to different teaching styles and to provide opportunities for critical reflection on my own teaching.
Occasionally, l invites some colleagues to come into my class to collect information about my lesson. This is a simple observation task or through note taking. This will relate back to the area l have identified to reflect upon. For example, l ask the colleague to focus on which learners contribute most in the lesson, what different patterns of interaction occur or how l deal with errors.
Self-evaluation helps me evaluate my knowledge of the teaching and identify my strengths and weaknesses. For me sometimes l complete a questionnaire on line and the assessment service analyses my answers and delivers a report highlighting my strengths and weaknesses.
Feedback at the end of every lesson serves as a guide whether learners have grasped the lesson taught for that day.
However, the main guide is learner's performance at the end of module test or examinations. Dismal performances at these tests and examinations tell me that the learners did not grasp whatever l taught them or higher performance tells me they were able to understand what l taught them.
Line Manager Feedback
In any career, it is essential that you receive some verification about your present skills. My line manager sits in my lesson once every term to evaluate and to confirm which of my skills are strong and also pointing out those which need to be improved. After Ofsted inspection in November, 2011, my line manager informed me at a meeting that my lesson was adjudged outstanding by the Ofsted inspectors.
I sometimes take an inventory or check list in which l indicate which teaching practices used within a lesson or within a specified time period and how often l employed (Pak, 1985). Self-reporting allows me to make a regular assessment of what l am doing in the classroom.
Always on Time
Marked to Standard
The previous reflection from lesson observations feedback, self evaluations, self report, peer observation and teacher's diary allowed me to develop a SWOT analysis of myself as teacher over the years:
Good subject knowledge (Chemistry)
Experience from schools in Ghana, Swaziland and the UK
Good ICT skills
Have high expectations
Good student relationships
Good lesson Plan
Constant improving my teaching skills
High level of mathematics, physics and biology skills
Able to teach mathematics, physics and biology
Have good interpersonal skills
Good time management
Writing on the board needs to be improved
Weak in foreign languages
Weak administrative skills
Completion of DTTLS and QTLS will allow me to access further opportunities within schools and colleges
Lifelong learning sector will increase, given that compulsory age will go up, from 16 to 18
Completing the DTTLS course will allow me to access to College and schools
DTTLS course might allow me to pursue PhD in chemistry and move into HE education teaching in the end.
Education budget cuts might reduce chances for future teacher training on schools, FE and HE education.