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Importance of Teacher Reflection

Growing in the Teaching Profession Through Reflection

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Importance of Teacher Reflection

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Teachers spend a lot of time focusing on many aspects of teaching including: However, there is another aspect of teaching which regretfully is often forgotten or pushed aside because of busy schedules. That is the role of reflection in the building of an effective teaching career. Having spent so much time preparing for and delivering lessons, it is easy to see why teachers often do not spend the time looking back over what they've done, how students responded, and what the results of informal and formal assessments showed about the information that was actually learned. Nonetheless, it is used by many school districts as part of the teacher evaluations and also plays a part in national certification. In fact, teacher reflection is a key part of teacher growth and should become a part of every teacher's career.

Methods of Teacher Reflection

Following are a few ways that teachers can include reflection as part of their own path towards professional development.
  • Daily Reflection - All teachers should take a few moments to debrief on the day's events. Typically, this won't take but a few moments and over time the information can be quite valuable. Some teachers keep a daily journal while others simply jot down notes about issues that they had in class.
  • Unit Reflection - At the end of a teaching unit, once assessments have all been graded, teachers should take some time to reflect on the unit as a whole. Questions to consider include:
    • Overall which lessons worked and which didn't?
    • On which objectives did students struggle the most? Why?
    • Which learning objectives seemed the easiest for students? What made those work better?
    • Were the end results of the unit what you had expected and hoped for? Why or why not?
    Answering these questions can help guide teachers as they decide what they want to keep and what they want to change the next time they teach the same unit.
  • End of Term Reflection - At the end of each term or semester, look back over the student's grades and refer back to your daily and unit reflection notes. Try and make an overall judgement about things that are positive and areas that need improvement. If possible, try to come up with one change that can help as you head into the next term.
  • End of Year Reflection - Once the year is completed, go back through your notes and write down what you are most proud of along with areas that need improvement. You should then move on to the next part of the process: implementing changes based on what you have learned.

What To Do With Information Learned

Reflecting on what went right and wrong with lessons and classroom situations is one thing. However, figuring out what to do with that information is quite another. Only by using this information to produce real change can growth occur. Read some quotes on changes to help get you motivated.

Following are some methods of ways in which teachers can use the information they learned about themselves through reflection:

  • Celebrate Successes - First and foremost, find reasons to celebrate. If you want, you can go so far as to create a scrapbook of how you make a difference as a teacher. It is important to not just focus on negatives but also pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
  • Build on Successes - Use the information to build on any successes you might have had. Find ways to incorporate more actions that lead to success for students in next year's lessons.
  • Identify Areas That Need Improvement - Look for spots where you felt lessons fell flat or information was lost on students. Identify any housekeeping issues that arose or spots where classroom management needed some work. This list will be helpful as you make changes.
  • Determine Why Things Failed - Look at each area that needs improvement and truly think about why issues arose. By figuring out what caused the failure, you will have a much greater chance of turning things around and creating success.
  • Create a Plan for Improvement - Create a plan of what you are going to do to meet each area that needs improvement. Maybe you need to rethink the way you collect homework. Maybe a couple of lessons need to be thrown out and created again from scratch.
  • Adjust Future Lessons and Procedures - Once you have your plan in place, implement it. Make the changes.
Once you have been through the process and implemented changes, you will want to continue to track changes and reflect as described above. This is a process that is always evolving so allow yourself to evolve with it. Reflection can be the key to reaching ever greater teaching heights. If you want a little extra inspiration, read these quotes on reflection.
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