Reflecting for Success

Reflecting for Success
By:
Cross Country Education
Posted:
July 21, 2022 09:18 AM (GMT-04:00)
Categories:
Educator Resources

Hindsight is only 20/20 if you take the time to look backwards. Reflecting on your practice is an integral part of growing as an educator. Moreover, “Research promotes reflective teaching as an important distinguishing strategy between experienced and novice teachers.” ¹ Reflecting on what has worked and what needs improvement is part of making connections for yourself.

Encouraging students to reflect on their own learning

An important aspect for educators is receiving feedback, not only from peers and mentors, but also from students. Metacognition is an empowering strategy that can benefit student learning as, “students can reflect on how they learn,” and through this thinking “they become better learners.”4 According to a Vanderbilt University article, “A key element is recognizing the limit of one’s knowledge or ability and then figuring out how to expand that knowledge or extend the ability.” For educators, being able to figure out how to improve on their own teaching practice is important but also building on the students’ learning is key.

In the reflective article, “Revising Teaching,” Metzger, an experienced educator, discusses examples where metacognition strategies are embedded in subject learning so, “students not only achieve a strong answer but also create new ideas [and] explicitly discuss how to think better.” Metacognitive strategies encourage students in the classroom to become accountable for their learning and; therefore, feel successful in the classroom.

Educators can encourage learning reflections by:

  • Existing knowledge- Encourage students to assess what they already know about a topic. Educators can promote existing knowledge to guide their research.
  • Asking questions- Find out what is confusing for the student throughout lessons.
  • Modeling thinking- Educators can model thinking when first introducing a new concept or when students need further understanding of a concept. By modeling the questions that may occur, previous knowledge and insight to resources will support their learning.

Reflection as a practice

Equally as important are the ways reflection helps educators to develop. “Reflecting on your teaching will help you to understand how your students best learn and will allow you to be accountable for their progress.”² This process occurs by educators thinking “critically about their teaching and look for evidence of effective teaching.”³ Self-reflection is a needed step for growth and feedback from others will help support your journey.

As you grow from being a “novice educator” and you look to update your teaching tool kit, we have suggested some strategies on how to incorporate reflective practices into the classroom.

Strategies for reflection:

Journaling - Start by choosing a traditional composition notebook or use the notes app on your phone. The key here is to take time out of your day to write down strengths, areas of improvement, ideas, and even changes to tomorrow’s plans. As always, it’s important to be honest and use the same self-compassion that we teach our students to use in order to become a better educator. Try to journal each day and eventually it just becomes a habit.

Discussion - Speak with a colleague about your work in the classroom which can help keep you accountable and give you a second opinion on strategizing for the future. Use a portion of your planning time for reflection can be beneficial when planning future instruction.

Student Surveys - Regardless of the format of a survey (google forms, paper and pencil, class discussion etc.) use it to gauge the temperature of the class you work with not only allows you to better understand your students’ preferences, but it also shows students that their opinion matters. This empowerment can increase student buy in and therefore increase levels of engagement. It can also serve as a compass to guide your instruction towards being more enjoyable for your students in the future.

Classroom Observations – Though feedback from a mentor teacher can be intimidating, receiving constructive criticism can help inform key aspects of teaching or pose ideas that you had not considered. As a means of growth and reflection, an observation with feedback may have a direct impact upon student learning.

In summation, reflection allows for critical thinking, self-efficacy, and an overall better understanding of your students. In order to help your students move forward it’s paramount for you to look backwards.

References:

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