Yesterday I facilitated the first of nine workshops planned for new teachers who have joined us in the last several months. The workshop, What Good Teachers Do, focused on reflection.
Our learning outcomes for the session:
- recognize the importance of being reflective
- demonstrate the need to teach differently than the traditional ways they have been taught
- identify the characteristics and qualities of effective teachers
- justify that there is more to teaching than “delivering a syllabus”
- build relationships with your mentor and other new teachers
Admittedly, this was an ambitious set of targeted learning outcomes. Our enthusiastic group of 16 eagerly participated in all of the cooperative learning activities that were a significant part of the two hours. We learned about reflecting by reflecting. First we reflected on our experiences as a student in school and selected a metaphor that described that experience. Who could forget that most of us stood in the partly sunny/partly cloudy corner?
Many teachers think they are reflective when they share classroom experiences with colleagues. Certainly there are many conversations in staff rooms everywhere that would indicate this. However, this isn’t quite what I have in mind when I talk about being reflective. In a recent article from teachingenglish.org.uk, Julie Tice tells us that, “without more time spent focussing on or discussing what has happened, we may tend to jump to conclusions about why things are happening. We may only notice reactions of the louder students.”
It is very important that we embed a process for reflecting into our practice to ensure that it happens. We can do this by first of all keeping a reflection journal. We started an electronic reflection journal in the workshop today with three reflections, and a plan to collect and organize our thoughts and observations. Being reflective is a big part of our own professional development. Without reflection, how can we refine our practice?
Together we also explored some of the characteristics of 21st century learners and reflected on how we will need to teach differently than the way we were taught. This reflection was followed by a self-assessment rubric for reflections where teachers were asked to give themselves a ‘1’ if they completely made suggestions about how teaching should be different or a ‘0’ if they did not completely make suggestions.
We learned that “good teachers reflect”, a quote from a colleague’s teacher portfolio, and one that I tweeted out last week. (Thank you Rathi!). Reflecting is what good teachers do to improve their teaching and ultimately to improve the learning experience.
Happy reflecting everyone! See you at the next workshop.