All entries for Monday 20 January 2020

January 20, 2020

How using a recognised reflective framework has helped me reflect on and improve my practice

PDP 2: Discuss how using a recognised reflective framework has helped you reflect on and improve your practice as a teacher or learner teacher - Ryan

Using a reflective framework is necessary to improve teacher practice and to continue to develop and understand new research and methodology in education. The following is a brief reflection on how using a reflective framework has helped me improve as a trainee teacher.

The first few lessons I planned and taught were to small reading groups of six learners which I ran on my own. Although I reflected on areas of success and improvement, there was no reflective framework to help deepen my reflection and focus on specific areas I needed to improve aside from my weekly mentor meetings. Without observation from an experienced educator, my reflections were made in the absence of the knowledge of how to improve beyond the surface level. Using Johari’s window, the benefits of a reflective framework that utilizes mentor input becomes clearer in the collaborative work and expanded knowledge a mentor brings to one’s own reflection allowing my knowledge to shift from the blind to the open (Thompson, 2018). Mentor meetings and formal observations allowed me to learn different techniques for a lesson “hook”, formative assessments, and behavior strategies which in turn provided more meaningful self-reflection for subsequent lessons.

These early reflections, carried out in the calm space after lessons, were instrumental in fine tuning lesson planning and carrying out more effective activities in class. However every lesson plan maintains its form only until the lesson begins as the teaching has to adapt to the needs of learners in the moment. Schon describes this as ‘Reflection in Action” as teachers are constantly monitoring and adapting their teaching to how learners respond during the lesson, and the follow up “Reflection on Action” focuses on the effectiveness of different activities, strategies, and methodologies as they occur in the classroom (Moon, 2013).

Reflecting only through an autobiographical lens, as described by Brookfield’s lenses, provides a limited scope of reflection, and applying the peer lens in the form of a mentor or more knowledgeable peer, provides a more experienced and detailed perspective allowing for deeper reflection and enhanced practice to take place. However, Brookfield argues that to truly gain insight and understanding of the class, another lens of reflection needs to be that of the student. Taking reflection even deeper is asking not only is your planning, lessons, and teaching effective, but does it work for all of the students in the classroom? (Brookfield, 2017) This enables reflection that goes beyond the classroom but also looks at teaching pedagogy on a larger scale. On trainee teachers, Larrivee argues the questions need to be not only, “Am I doing it right?”, but “Is this the right thing to do?” (Larrivee, 2008, p. 344).

Effective practitioners use various types of reflection throughout the day as they fine tune and improve their teaching. There are various reflective frameworks to help improve teaching practice, and it is vital to focus on your personal reflections while including one’s peers and the learners perspectives as well. As educational theory and practice is always developing and striving to improve alongside a changing world, the role of teaching is a never ending, life long journey of learning driven by reflection.

References:

Brookfield, S. (2017) Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. John Wiley and Sons, San Francisco.

Larrivee, B. (2008) 'Development of a tool to assess teachers’ level of reflective practice'. Reflective Practice, 9(3), pp. 341–360. https://doi.org/10.1080/14623940802207451.

Moon, J. (2015) Reflection in Learning and Development, Theory and Practice, (39-53). RoutledgeFalmer, London.

Thompson, C. (2018) The Magic of Mentoring, Developing Others and Yourself. Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, Abingdon, Oxon.


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