Educators have long recognized the importance and applicability of critical reflection across a wide range of educational settings, yet in practice it remains a challenging and nebulous concept for many to firmly grasp. Dewey was the first to point out that experience alone does not constitute learning; instead, a conscious realization must occur for the experience to become a source of learning.
Making the Most of Student Reflections
In examining the depth of reflection, Rogers made an influential and careful study and synthesis, while Peltier, Hay, and Drago put forward a way to evaluate different levels of reflective thinking, which include habitual actions, understanding, reflection, and critical reflection refer to Weimer, Yet the void of ecologically valid classroom-based research on incorporating reflection to improve student learning has left teachers largely on their own when it comes to creating opportunities for reflection in their courses. Reflection is, however, intrinsically linked to metacognition and self-regulation, where there is ample evidence as to their importance to learning e.
As educators, many of us have probably been asked to reflect in writing on our learning experiences or have asked our students to engage in written reflection. Reflection has been one of the most commonly used pedagogical tools by teachers and teacher-educators across a wide variety of disciplines ever since the ancient Greek philosophers first identified it as a way of learning. Yet anyone who has attempted to implement reflection in his or her teaching will have encountered learner resistance.
Prior to a reflection task, I have often asked my students to candidly share their thoughts about engaging in reflection. Some also confess that they are inclined to overstate their learning in order to cast a positive light on what they got out of a particular learning episode. In most cases, learners rarely move beyond the tip of the iceberg; instead they tend simply to describe habitual activities or what they did in a task or course. This is also common across disciplines, more perceptible in some than in others.
Presented here are three simple ideas you might like to consider that have worked well for me during my years of researching learner reflection and integrating it into my classrooms.
Begin reflection where the learners are. If you intend to encourage your students to engage in regular reflection, their first few entries will usually provide some clues about their individual depth of reflection. Make use of their experiences in the learning process to help them anticipate the reflective process and see the benefits of reflection beyond learning; this can encourage openness and engagement in the reflection task.
Remember that reflection tasks do not have to be onerous Anderson, —attend to individual needs and preferences see points 2 and 3 and make them manageable e. Some of your students will naturally be more adept than others at engaging in reflection. For those who need some guidance, use a few guiding questions drawing on the 5 Rs: recalling e.
Connecting self-reflection to effective teaching is a process. The first step is to figure out what you want to reflect upon—are you looking at a particular feature of your teaching or is this reflection in response to a specific problem in your classroom? Whatever the case may be, you should start by collecting information. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:. The first thing you should look for is any recurring patterns. If you video recorded your lesson, did you find anything that kept happening over and over? Now that you have figured out what needs to be changed, the easy part is finding a solution.
There are a few avenues I would encourage you to explore:. The ultimate goal of self-reflection is to improve the way you teach. In either case, self-reflection is a technique that can gauge your standing honestly and you should strive to implement it throughout the year. What do you think of reflective teaching? Do you practice this process in your classroom?
- Making the Most of Student Reflections | Getting Smart;
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Share with us in the comment section below, we would love to hear your thoughts. Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education.
What is reflective teaching?
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Share with us in the comment section below, we would love to hear your thoughts. Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. At TeachHUB it is our mission to improve the quality of education by making available the most current, complete and affordable resources for all K Educators.
Built by Teachers, for Teachers, we offer free lesson plans, the latest in education news, professional development and real teacher blogs plus the tools and applications modern Educators need to maintain a level of excellence in their classrooms. TeachHUB brings you the latest in education news, free lesson plans and teacher blogs.
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