To put it simply, were it not for reflecting on practice, I would never have improved as a teacher. I mean it makes sense doesn’t it, think about what happened and what you’d like to improve as a result and then take action. It’s just I’m not convinced that all teacher’s go through this process. I see really experienced teachers that are probably doing exactly the same lessons in the same way as they did 20 years ago. Not necessarily because those lessons were effective then.
With this in mind, I wrote the below post a while back and thought that I’d share it. I think that it’s just as important that we as teachers follow the same advice.
Dewey (1933) is a pioneer of reflection in education and it is suggested in his work that the idea of reflection is to create a chain of events or ideas that when linked can help to solve a problem. Learner reflection is critical to effective, deep, transferable learning, especially in cognitively demanding area (Kay, Li, Feteke, 2007). Furthermore, Race (2002) asserts that ‘the act of reflecting is one which causes us to make sense of what we’ve learned, why we learned it, and how that particular increment of learning took place’ Clegg goes on to tell us that reflection is about developing, building upon, and in some cases, changing existing behaviour and practice. And of course, how could we forget the work of Kolb (1984); reflection plays a huge part in his theory.
So all of this is great, reflection appears to be essential in the learning process, but all of the above still raises the questions below:
1. When should one reflect?
Personally I see reflection as an integral part of every lesson whereby the learners attempt to make sense of the lesson content and what they feel that they achieved from the lesson in relation to the learning intentions. Therefore, I suggest at the end of the lesson.
2. How should one reflect?
Clegg promotes the Gloucestershire Business School’s three simple questions to prompt learner reflection:
- Description of event/experience
- How it made them feel/how they responded to the event or the experience
- How they might respond to a similar event in the future/what they would do differently?
I think that as long as the learner is able to appreciate what they did well or think they got from an experience, what they didn’t do so well or didn’t understand and how/what they can do better at, then this is a good place to start. If learners do this well, then they should be encouraged to question more and think more deeply about their learning experiences to help them to forge stronger links between new and old learning.
3. Does reflection benefit everyone?