In her latest guest post, Nicky Salmon talks about the importance of reflecting on your teaching practice.
A very important part of any pre- or in-service teacher training course, is REFLECTION.
On a CELTA or Trinity TESOL course this will mostly be reflecting ON your practice, which means you will look back at the lesson you have just taught to reflect on
-what went well or not so well,
-reasons for these,
-what you can use again or change for next time.
Your ability to reflect on your planning and teaching is an assessed part of the course but many people find the whole process very difficult.
It might be because you have never reflected formally before.
It might be because you just don’t know what to prioritise in your reflection.
It might be because you just don’t know what language to use as you reflect.
Here are a few ideas to try as well as some DOs and DON’Ts.
1.’Use a buddy’.
-Before you teach, set some realistic personal aims for yourself. Just one or two that you feel you can focus on and achieve. Make sure these are SPECIFIC.
For example, I will improve my instructions by using the infinitive of the verb first (for example, ‘Open your books…’, ‘Speak to your partner…’)
-Ask a ‘buddy’ (another trainee) to observe your lesson and specifically look out for how you improved in these specific areas. Ask them to give you feedback on these things.
-Now reflect on what happened- for example with your instructions. What was the evidence that they had improved? What will you continue to do or change for next time?
Use ‘reflective language’ rather than just descriptive. Try to include student-centred comments with evidence, and concrete ideas around what can be done to improve a specific aspect of your teaching.
Here are some useful starter sentences:
I should/could have ….+ ideas how things can be improved
I think/saw/feel/tried….. + because ….happened
I would change … to make…
This was a good experience for me because ….
I learnt from … because……
Give yourself time to reflect on your lesson. Some trainers will encourage you to take part in ‘Hot’ (immediately after the lesson) and ‘Cold’ (the evening after the lesson or the next day) reflection. However your course is organised, make sure you put aside some time to reflect.
2.Change your language
Use the language of reflection so you don’t just describe events. You need to analyse why they worked, or didn’t work. You also need to say what you plan to do about this for next time.
Make sure your efforts to reflect actually mean something in practice.
For example, if you are reflecting on your instructions and whether they worked, decide how to improve them or what to do again. Then implement these ideas. You can then reflect on whether they worked in the next lesson.
1.Make an emotional response
Be careful that you don’t include an emotional response straight after your lesson. For example, ‘it was terrible!’, ‘I loved it and students had a good time’.
Wait, relax, think and then listen to some feedback.
2.Just describe events
Describing events is useful but ‘description’ is just the start of reflection. Remember to analyse why something worked or didn’t and then what you plan to do about this in future lessons.
Effective reflection comes with practice. Get some advice from your trainers and ask colleagues if you can see some of their ideas.
A final word
Reflection is just about one of the most important and useful processes for teachers. We do it all the time. Usually this happens informally in the staffroom over your cuppa with a colleague. But more and more, managers are recognising the importance of reflection in CPD (Continuing Professional Development) and how it will help you, the teacher, to identify your development needs and training priorities.
Feature image rights: http://www.emaze.com
Other images: http://www.verticalmeasures.com
About the author:
I have been teaching and training for over 25 years. I have worked in secondary schools, further education colleges, private colleges and universities both in the UK and abroad. My training experience is mainly with Cambridge CELTA but I have also worked on Trinity TESOL , Cambridge ICELT and delivered a range of in-service courses to practicing teachers.
I have a special interest in supporting teacher reflection and more recently, an interest in writing for educational publications and blogs. I’m really looking forward to sharing ideas through this blog and learning more about what teachers are interested in.