If there is one thing that has made the most impact on my teaching – it would be my reflective practice on my teaching and learning.
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.
At the end of the day I always take a moment to look at how the day went. I do not linger on my answers. Rather, I write down what immediately comes to mind. It does not take long to quickly review your day…and the benefits are worth it.
You will notice:
✔your teaching becomes more like research – learning along side the children
✔attention is given to those areas that might otherwise be overlooked
✔the social and emotional climate of the classroom is addressed daily
✔teaching becomes more responsive to the children’s current learning needs
✔you will develop an more observant eye in the classroom
Keeping a Teacher’s Journal is the easiest way to begin a process of reflection since it is purely personal. After each lesson you write in a notebook what happened in your class. You may also describe your own reactions and feelings and those you observed on the part of the students. You are likely to begin to pose questions about what you have observed. Diary writing does require a certain discipline in taking the time to do it on a regular basis.
Use this Teacher’s Journal to keep your thoughts and feelings about how your year is going. I keep mine at home as it can be very personal and I would not want just anyone reading what I write. This way I am free to express feelings of doubt and celebration!
If possible, it would be highly beneficial to share your journals with other teachers who are also engaging in reflective practice. By allowing others to read your journals and comment or give feedback your peers can support or challenge what you have written. You will able to learn from their experiences and thus improve your personal practical knowledge at a greater rate. A group of teachers engaging in reflective practice together in this way is what some refer to as a ‘community of practice.’
Of course, it is not easy to share your journals with just anyone. Many people don’t feel comfortable sharing their fears and failures with colleagues for fear of judgment and being labeled a ‘bad teacher.’ Some teachers feel a sense of competition with coworkers and are not interested in helping their colleagues improve as teachers. These are important obstacles to consider when forming a community of practice. You need to choose people you trust, feel comfortable with, and who are not afraid to share intimate accounts with you and the other members of your community. Another idea is to create ‘critical friends’ with friends you already have and who are in the teaching profession.
Reflective teaching is a cyclical process, because once you start to implement changes, then the reflective and evaluative cycle begins again.
✔What are you doing?
✔Why are you doing it?
✔How effective is it?
✔How are the students responding?
✔How can you do it better?
As a result of your reflection you may decide to do something in a different way, or you may just decide that what you are doing is the best way. And that is what professional development is all about.
If your New School Year’s resolution is to become a better teacher, why not start by purchasing Teacher’s Reflection Journal today?