Critical Reflections on Teaching

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Critical Reflections on Teaching

What is reflective teaching?

Reflection defined

 
|  |[pic]|recognising |[pi|  | | | |+ |c] | | |Reflection means | |examining | |the way we teach. | | | |+ | | | |  | |ruminating over | |  |

This involves more than just describing what we do or what we have done.

As individuals, each with our own background and experience, we bring certain beliefs, assumptions, knowledge, attitudes and values to teaching.

Our teaching takes place in a social setting that has its own unique characteristics, opportunities and constraints.

Reflective teaching means exploring the implications of all these complex factors with the intention of understanding and improving our practice.

A good place to start is by considering our own pasts, as learners and teachers and reflecting on the beliefs, knowledge and values that we have developed from our experiences.

Levels of reflection

In a sense, we reflect constantly as we teach, responding to ongoing situations in the classroom as they arise. This is sometimes called reflection-in-action.

Reflection-in-action usually happens very fast, perhaps even intuitively. It can be transient and quickly forgotten. It is only after a teaching event that there is time for in-depth reflection. This is sometimes called reflection-on-action.

When the process of reflection-on-action is rigorous, systematic and ongoing, teachers are acting as reflective practitioners.

The chart below differentiates levels at which reflection can take place, from the fleeting and transient to the in-depth, ongoing critical examination of teaching.

|Rapid reflection |Immediate and |Ongoing decision-making while teaching,| | |automatic |happens very fast, almost constantly, | | | |often privately. | |Repair |Thoughtful |Teacher makes a decision to alter | | | |behaviour in response to cues from | | | |students. | |Review |Less formal |Teacher thinks about, writes about or | | |At a particular |discusses some element of teaching or | | |point in time |students’ learning; often interpersonal| | | |and collegial. | |Research |More systematic |Thinking and observation become more | | |Over a period of |sharply focussed around particular | | |time |issues; involves collecting data over | | | |time. Eg Action research, exploratory | | | |practice, teaching journals. | |Retheorizing and |Long term |More abstract and more rigorous; | |Reformulating |Informed by public |teachers critically examine their | | |academic theories |practical theories, and consider these | | | |in the light of academic theories. |

Adapted from Zeichner and Liston 1996: 47, cited in Bailey, K. A. Curtis and D. Nunan 2001 Pursuing Professional Development: the self as source Heinle and Heinle (Thomson Learning) 41 – 42.

Teaching beliefs

The power of beliefs to influence teaching

The teaching repertoire of any individual teacher is an amalgam of beliefs,...
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