If we want to develop as teachers, it is important to be able to reflect on our teaching and analyse what we are doing well and areas in which we can improve. But what can we do as teachers to better reflect on our own teaching? In this blog, we will look at things we can do as teachers to become more reflective teachers and hopefully develop as teachers too. Being a reflective teacher involves regularly examining your teaching practices, evaluating their effectiveness, and making necessary adjustments to improve your teaching and student learning outcomes. Below we have some ideas and tips on how teachers can better reflect on their own teaching:
Increase your self-awareness:
It is important to develop a conscious understanding of your teaching beliefs and values. You should teach in a way that you feel comfortable while also being open to trying new ideas and techniques. It is also important for us to reflect on how our beliefs and values influence our instructional choices and interactions with students. If, for example we find that interaction with certain groups of students is difficult or our instructions are not getting through it may be useful to think about why this is and adjust our approach with these students.
Set time aside for regular self-reflection:
This means having time to reflect on your teaching experiences, either daily, weekly, or after significant teaching events such as an observation. You can consider questions such as: What went well in my lesson and why? What challenges did I face? How did I handle them? How did my students respond to the lesson? What evidence do I have of their learning? By thinking about these things, you can build up a good overall picture of your teaching and give yourself a basis on which you can develop ideas on how to improve as a teacher.
You can also gather data to help inform your reflection process. This might include student work and assessments, feedback from observations by colleagues as well as feedback from students. You might also choose to keep a personal teaching journal. Once you have this data you can use it identify patterns that frequently occur in your lessons, as well as strengths in your teaching and areas for improvement.
As we mentioned above it is very useful to invite constructive feedback from students, colleagues, mentors, or your director of studies/teacher training department. This can be done through formal observations, informal conversations, or anonymous surveys. It’s useful to consider different perspectives and feedback approaches to gain a comprehensive understanding of your teaching. Although receiving feedback can be daunting, especially when it comes from your colleagues, it is a vital tool in developing as a teacher. Often colleagues see things that we don’t when we are teaching and their advice can be invaluable for our professional development.
Set yourself goals:
Based on your self-reflection and feedback, you can now set yourself specific and measurable goals for your professional development. These goals should address areas where you want to improve your teaching practice. It would be useful to create an action plan for how you plan to incorporate these things into your teaching. You can also discuss this plan with more experienced colleagues or your director of studies.
Experiment and adapt:
Introduce changes and strategies in your teaching practice based on your goals and your action plan. Try out new teaching methods, technologies, or approaches. You can then assess the impact of these changes on your classes, your students and yourself and make adjustments as necessary. You can also get ideas for your classes by observing your colleagues to see how they do things differently in their classes and you can bring their best ideas into your classroom.
Collaborate with colleagues:
Talk to your colleagues about your classes and collaborate with other teachers. It’s important to share experiences, exchange ideas, and learn from one another. Collaborative reflection can provide valuable insights into your teaching approach and that of your colleagues and also support your growth as a reflective teacher.
Engage in professional development:
To develop as a teacher it is also important to participate in workshops, conferences, webinars, or online courses related to teaching. This will allow you to discover new ideas and teaching approaches and see how these compare to what is happening in your classroom. Participating in these activities will allow you to continuously expand your knowledge and skills to stay updated with research-based practices. You can then try out some of these new approaches and use the methods mentioned above to reflect on their effectiveness.
Keep a journal:
As we mentioned earlier, maintaining a reflective journal where you can record your thoughts, ideas, and insights about your teaching is a really good way to reflect on your teaching. If you regularly review and revisit your journal you can identify recurring themes or patterns in your teaching over time and make changes to or adapt your teaching approach based on these.
Celebrate successes and learn from failures:
As teachers, it’s essential that we acknowledge and celebrate our achievements and successes as a teacher. This is something that makes the job much more enjoyable. Similarly, we should view failures or challenges as opportunities for growth and learning. It’s important that we embrace a positive mindset and use setbacks as a chance to reflect and improve. By actively engaging in reflective teaching practices, you can enhance your teaching effectiveness, make informed instructional decisions, and promote your own continuous professional growth.
We hope you find this blog post on reflective teaching useful and that is has given you some ideas on how best to reflect on your own teaching. As teachers we should always be looking for ways to develop and improve. Reflecting on what happens in our classrooms is one of the best ways that we can do this. So, make this your goal for the next academic year and start reflecting more on your classes and on your teaching.