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Teaching Strategies: The Importance of Self-Reflection

Janelle Cox

Many teachers already think about their teaching and how it affects their classroom. They speak with their colleagues and tell them how their lesson went, if it went well or if it went badly. They probably don’t even realize that they are self-reflecting because they do it so often. Even the most efficient teachers, who seem to be naturals, had to learn a systemic plan on to self-reflect on their teaching practice.

Most educators would agree that they need to implement a self-reflection practice into their daily or weekly schedules and teaching strategies. Unfortunately, time is a huge obstacle as well as finding an efficient method that works for them. But these problems can be solved quite easily.

Beginning the process of reflection is a simple way to find out more about your teaching strategies. It’s a great way to gather information and see what is working and what is not. It’s important to collect, record, and analyze your observations to see if you need to make any changes.

Teaching Strategies: Overcoming the Obstacles

While time is most likely the biggest obstacle teachers face, developing an efficient method is another. Time can be managed quite easily by starting off with a simple five minutes of self-reflection. While 30 minutes is the ideal amount of time, five minutes can be worthwhile. All you have to do is create a reflection notebook and carve out five minutes of your day. You can even use your “notes” app as your journal to self-reflect if you find that is easier for you. You will find that these five minutes a day will soon turn into ten or 20, and end up being the most productive thing that you probably did that day.

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Finding a method that works for them, is the next obstacle many teachers face when they go to sit down and try to self-reflect upon their teaching. The easiest way to begin is to focus in on one lesson that you taught that day. Then you can look at some basic writing prompts to help you self-reflect, such as:

  • What went well in the lesson and what did not?
  • What could I have done better?
  • What problems did I encounter in the lesson?
  • Did the students respond positively or negatively to the lesson?
  • What did I learn from teaching this lesson today?

These prompts are an easy way to get you writing and reflecting upon your lesson. You can use these prompts each day to help you self-reflect.

Beginning the Process of Self-Reflection

Once you have overcome the two major obstacles that were keeping you from self-reflecting in your teaching practice, then you can experiment with what works for you and what doesn’t. If you find that keeping a journal is not working for you, then you can try other alternative ways. Here are a few.

Peer Observation

Ask a colleague to come into your classroom and observe a lesson. Give them a list of criteria to look for while they are observing you teach. Then, sit down with your colleague and ask them, what patterns did they notice? What went well and what didn’t? This will give you a better idea of how you teach as well as how you take criticism.

Record Yourself

A video recording is a great way to provide yourself with information on how things went during a lesson. It’s so effective that New York mandates that prospective teachers must make a self-reflection video as part of their teaching credentials. When you observe the video, be sure to look for how much you talked, how much you let the students talk, how the students reacted to you, if your instructions were clear, where you stood while teaching, and how you came across to the students.

What to Do With What You Learned

Once you are armed with your knowledge of self-reflection, it’s now time to take that information and do something with it. Try to notice any patterns that keep coming up. Talk with your colleagues about what you discovered and get their input. If you found that you are lacking in a certain area, then do your research and find out what is working for other teachers. There a million blogs and websites that have many ideas that can work for your classroom. Take this new found information and implement it into your classroom. That is what self-reflection is all about right? Looking into the way you teach and finding out what works and what doesn’t work, then changing it for the better.

Reflective teaching is a process that takes time and dedication. The deep understandings that you will gain with self-reflection will only help you sore to higher sites in your professional teaching career. Make sure you take the few minutes a day that is recommended and you will see a difference in your teaching.

Do you self-reflect on your teaching skills? What tips do you have for your colleagues? Please share your tips in the comment section below, we would love to heat what you have to say.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.