Teaching is a continual process of planning, reflecting and adapting where you learn from your own teaching experience and refine and develop your professional practice. ‘Reflective Practice’ itself derives from the work of Dewey and Schön.
Dewey (1938) argued that reflective practice promotes a consideration for why things are as they are and how we might direct our actions and behaviour through careful planning, underpinned by experience and theory in order to be as impactful as possible.
Schön (1983) took this further and defined to processes: reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action. The difference between observing thoughts and actions as they occur to make adjustments in the moment and the process of retrospectively looking back and learning from experiences to adapt future action.
When do we reflect?
Reflection is a deliberate and conscientious process that employs a person’s cognitive, emotional and somatic capacities to mindfully contemplate on past, present or future (intended or planned) actions in order to learn, better understand and potentially improve future actions (Harvey, et al., 2016)
Brookfield (1995) defined four distinct and interconnecting lenses through which teachers discover, examine and critically reflect on their own assumptions and actions. You should not limit yourself to a specific lens or lenses. Consider each perspective as a unique but interconnected part of your teaching practice.
|Self||Our own autobiography as teachers and learners. This is a reflection on your practice or during your practice. You may document it using a journal, or other as a collection of artefacts. It may be an informal process.|
|Students||Consider the student perspective and engage in dialogue. Reflections can be in the form of formal feedback or as part of our informal conversations. These discussions serve as drivers for reflection and development.|
|Peers||The perspective of our colleagues is useful to consider new approaches. These can be broad, informal discussions or they might be part of a formal Peer Observation.|
|Scholarship||Explore the research within the field of teaching and learning. What does the evidence suggest is good practice? Consider how this may work within your own individual context.|
Reflective practice enables us to develop our practice and become more impactful teachers. The greatest value of reflection comes when we repeat the reflective process, creating a habit and strengthening our ability to be critically reflective and improve (Jasper, 2013).
This guide provides a structure to identify strengths and areas for improvement based on your experiences in the classroom.
These are some areas for you to consider as you reflect on your practice. You don’t have to answer each question explicitly but use them to guide your overall reflections on what you did, what went well, what didn’t go so well and what you could do differently next time.
Each sub-heading links to a page on the Learning and Teaching Hub that you can explore for ideas on strategies you can adopt and skills you can develop.
1.1 Understanding and your Goals
- What were your goals for the session?
- How did you articulate these goals to the students?
- How far were the goals achieved? (how do you know?)
- Did you clearly communicate performance criteria?
1.2 Establishing Prior Knowledge
- How did you establish students’ prior knowledge?
- What did you do to address any gaps in knowledge (insufficient, inaccurate, inappropriate)?
- How did you activate students’ prior knowledge at the start of the session?
1.3 Organisation of Learning
- How well did the way you organised the course content support student learning?
- Did you explicitly share the content structure with students?
- To what extent were students able to form deep and meaningful connections?
- How inclusive was your content?
- How effectively did you relate class content to course goals, students’ personal goals, or societal concerns?
- How did the class flow? How effectively did you transition between topics and activities?
1.4 Teaching strategies & activities
- What teaching strategies did you adopt?
- How far were your teaching strategies aligned with the goals and assessment?
- Did the activities present an appropriate level of challenge to students? How do you know?
- Did you set authentic real-world tasks?
- How effectively did you introduce activities?
- How did you facilitate student discussion to encourage higher order thinking?
- How effectively did you debrief activities? To what extend did you encourage students to summarize and add to others’ summaries?
- How did you give targeted formative feedback?
1.5 Student Engagement and Motivation
- How engaged were the students with the activities? Did everyone get involved? For those that didn’t engage, what do you think the causes might have been?
- In what ways did you demonstrate the relevance of the content to students’ future professional lives?
- To what extent were you able to personalise the session to students’ interests and abilities?
1.6 Supporting the Social and Emotional Environment
- What did you do create a supportive learning environment?
- How did you encourage student questions?
- How effectively did you handle questions? repeating them? can everyone hear all questions? are the answers clear?
- How did you help quieter students interact with others?
- How effectively did you deal with tensions?
- How far did you model inclusive language, behaviour and attitudes?
1.7 Integrating Media and Technology
- How effective was your use of classroom technologies to engage students, enhance learning, and/or generally enrich students’ class experience?
- How effectively did you plan for the use of classroom technologies? Did you encounter any technical hitches? How could these have been mitigated?
- Did you consider accessibility in the design and use of classroom technologies and make reasonable adjustments to make learning accessible to all students?
1.8 Developing Student Self-Regulation and Direction
- How have you supported student’s self-regulation? Perhaps through formative and self-assessment activities
- How have you supported students’ self-belief and development of a growth mindset?
- How have you supported students’ metacognition and development of appropriate study skills?
If you would like support or assistance with Reflective Practice or any other aspects of your teaching and learning practice, please contact Learning Innovation.
Borton, T., 1970. Reach Touch and Teach: Student Concerns and Process Education. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Brookfield, S., 1995. Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco, CA: Wiley and Sons.
Dewey, J., 1938. Experience in Education. New York, NY: MacMillan.
Driscoll, J., 1994. Reflective Practice for Practise. Senior Nurse, Volume 13, pp. 47-50.
Jasper, M., 2013. Beginning Reflective Practice. 2nd ed. Andover, UK: Cengage Learning.
Pollard, A. et al., 2002. Reflective Teaching: Effective and Evidence-Informed Professional Practice. London, UK: Continuum.
Reynolds, C., Labissiere, Y. & Haack, P., 2004. Developing reflective practice in teaching assistants through electronic portfolios. The Journal of Faculty Development, Volume 1, pp. 37-44.
Schön, D., 1983. The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think In Action. New York, NY: Basic Books.