Reflective Teaching

As educators we often underestimate the importance of taking a step back from teaching and allowing ourselves the luxury to re-establish our pedagogical philosophy and direction. It’s so easy to get distracted and bogged down by the everyday teaching admin, getting lost in the never ending ‘to do list’, and before you know it a term or year rolls by in a blur.

This is why it is so important to allow yourself some time away from the coal face of teaching to allow your pedagogical batteries to be re-charged, and reflect on current practice. Whether you attend a teaching conference, CPD course, or simply evaluate your recent teaching, reflection is such an important aspect in working more efficiently, effectively and with greater purpose.

I came across this post from a couple of teachers in the states whose school has supported the teacher reflection process by providing them with the opportunity to attend the ACSI teachers convention where a number of speakers were present sharing teaching strategies, advice and support. It would appear to me that this convention, like many others, provides the opportunity for teachers to re-evaluate their own pedagogical philosophy with other education professionals.

Teachers are the leaders in learning, and if we as educators stop learning ourselves then how can we expect our pupils to become better learners? Most teachers do have the desire and drive to strive to become better teachers by reflecting on current teaching practice and learning new teaching strategies, but what most teachers need more of, is the time and support to conduct such reflection.

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  1. Totally agree with the comments above. It is probably one of the most important skills that a successful teacher has the ability to relfect on their practice and to change this practice for the better.
    One thing which I do in my lessons is to get the pupils in each of my classes to do a ‘lesson observation on me, using an observation checklist ( I get the pupils to pick who does it). I do this about 1/2 times every half term so I know what I am doing in the classroom is relevant to my learners and not just me. Will be happy to share this if anybody is interested.

  2. Thanks for you comments Michael, as you can tell this is something that I am very passionate about. Your pupil observation sounds like an interesting idea that I would definitely like to trail in my own teaching. How do the pupils respond to observing you? Do they see it as a worthwhile task and are they happy to not participate in the lesson in order to complete the observation? I think my own pupils could possibly be more critical than Ofsted.

    1. Thank you for your Feedback Liz. The idea for these Pupil Observations originally came from practice I do within my own teaching but more so from some work I have been doing with the ITT students in my school. The feedback so far from the pupils who have completed them has been very positive. Each pupil is given a copy of a Lesson Evalaution sheet (which I will happily share) which they complete as the lesson is on going, this means they can still take part in the lesson. The main comments from the pupils so far were that they tend to look at their lesson in more detail as they are looking for key areas of the lessons which are identified on the sheet, this in turn makes them more aware of their learning. They also identified this practice as a key factor in improving their learning as they can sit back at the end of the lesson and review their evauation, and therefore their learning, something which pupils very rarely do. For me, I have found that the pupils are very honest in their comments and very straight to the point, something which I see as massively important for me, in changing the way I teach to improving the learning in those I teach.

      1. I totally agree, teaching and learning is definitely a two way process. I am also always trying to tailor my teaching to suit the needs of the learner and I find pupil feedback very useful in creating a supportive and effective learning environment.


  3. If anyone has used the posted ‘Pupil Observation Checklist’ please let me know how it went and if it was useful. I am doing a lot of work with some ITT students next year and I see this as being a useful part of their training and feedback.

  4. Being an active reflective teacher/practitioner is one of the most important things you can do in order to become the best teacher you can be and improve learning in your classroom.
    I have been using Pupil Observations for a while now in my lessons and I have found them extremely useful. However I hit a snag. I only gave them to two pupils per lesson, so in other words they dont target everyone!
    In my practical lessons I have been using a free Iphone App called TimeMotion which monitors levels of movement in athletes. You use push button technology to monitor how often the athlete Walks, Stands Still, Runs, Sprints etc. It is an excellent way to monitor activity levels for athletes in sports teams, PE lessons, and I have even used it to monitor levels of exercise in SCITT lessons when observing.
    I then thought why dont I use this App in my theory lessons to monitor ‘waste time’ in my pupils learning.
    I asked each pupil to download the free TimeMotion App on to their devices and then told them to change the wording at the bottom so that everytime they felt they switched off/became disengaged in the lesson they would press ‘Stop’, if they felt they were working but not being challenged they would press ‘Jog’ and if they felt the challenge of the lesson was high and they were excited they would press ‘Sprint’.
    With each pupil having the App and with the App being easy to use, each pupil could give me some simple but effective feedback on the lesson.
    Go on give it a go!

  5. I agree- looking at what is wrong in a lesson is a good thing. Learn from your experiences, mistakes that are made and make them better. I have two student teachers this semester and they have opened my eyes to my ways of not only my teaching but their teachings as well. I reflect on making new games, tweaking old favorites lessons and introducing methods of teaching.
    I always want to get better and by being a reflective practitioner is the key to doing so.