By Teachers, For Teachers
Reflecting on your performance daily is an attribute of a high-performance individual. Reflection is a powerful process in improving one’s performance, and like any skill, it can be developed and mastered. It serves as the “mirror” into our past actions. Mindful of the challenges we, as educators, face in preparing our students for 21st century careers, reflective practices are (and will continue to be) an essential ingredient in that preparation.
There are an unlimited number of ways to reflect; some are very structured, while others can be completely unstructured. There are also an unlimited number of settings for self-reflection. Choose the one that best fits you. Whether structured or unstructured, quiet or noisy, there are five fundamental tenets of effective reflection.
First and foremost, ask yourself poignant questions on what happened today (key questions are documented below). Next, understand how to get to the “aha” moments of enlightenment. Third, inquire of others (students, colleagues, etc) who witnessed your performance. Fourth, complete honesty in your personal assessment (be uncomfortably truthful) is essential. Finally, keep a journal. It need not be elaborate or extensive. The written word lives on. It provides you an opportunity to reflect on your progress.
1) Did I accomplish what I wanted to today?
2) Was I adequately prepared today to ensure maximum learning/understanding/effectiveness?
3) What have I done well and what made it so effective?
4) What can I do better and what do I need to do to accomplish that?
5) What was the most important information/skill that I wanted my students to learn today, this week and is there credible evidence that they learned it?
6) What did I learn from my students today, this week?
The power of reflection is a stimulant to improving one’s performance. It starts with an honest critique of our own performance and a commitment to continuous improvement. It is the most basic (and perhaps the most effective) form of professional development.
U…..Understand how to get to your objective (“aha” moments).
I…..Inquire of others (feedback).
C.….Complete honesty, always.
K…..Keep a journal (jot down your reflections and responses for future use).
It will only take a QUICK moment!
Dr. A. Douglas Eury Dr. Jane King John D. Balls
Dean of School of Education Assistant Professor Education Consultant
Gardner-Webb University Gardner-Webb University
More information on this topic as well as a framework for transforming education in the US can be found in the authors’ book, Rethink, Rebuild, Rebound: A Framework for Shared Responsibility and Accountability in Education (2nd Edition) and the associated R3 Workbook, published by Pearson Learning Solutions, 2011.