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Reflection and Instructional Coaching

Reflection and Instructional Coaching

Author: Trisha Fyfe

In this lesson, students will learn what reflection is and how it can be used in instructional coaching.

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Welcome. I'm Trisha Fyfe. And in today's video lesson, we'll look at the lesson titled Reflection and Instructional Coaching. As we learn about this topic, we will work towards several learning objectives. Together, we'll use the following two questions to guide our learning in this video lesson. What are approaches to reflection, and what is the impact of meaningful reflection in the coaching process?

As our career progresses as teachers, we must think about and examine in detail our professional practices. What is going well? What should be adapted? There are so many elements to professional growth and improvement as a teacher. Reflection, which is when teachers seriously think about or consider past events, is essential to professional growth. What do we know? What do we not know? This is how we begin the process of growth.

Reflection looks different in various scenarios. It may be more informal, such as when you go over thoughts about the day, or a specific lesson at dinnertime, for example. Or it may be formal. It might involve a meeting with an instructional coach in a structured, reflective meeting setting. Sometimes, we reflect alone as teachers. And other times, we collaborate and reflect with our instructional coach. This is dependent on the situation.

Regardless of the scenario, instructional coaching can be so beneficial to teachers. Instructional coaches can assist teachers through this reflective process so that these teachers get everything they can out of the experience. They can encourage teachers to look back at what has occurred-- or look backwards-- while at the same time progressing forward with instruction and practices as they think about what to do next.

Next, we'll look at metacognition and how this awareness, analysis, or understanding of your own thought process and learning process is an essential piece to reflection. When we reflect, it can be easy to focus on what happened. But metacognition encourages teachers to consider their own thinking on the matter and the impact that this thinking has on the outcomes. The inner landscape of the teaching self is the basis of metacognition. This is what Parker Palmer describes metacognition as.

Sharing metacognitions can be beneficial for teachers. Teachers can share these by making clear intentions, making clear problem-solving strategies, being able to describe any mental maps that were used for the problem-solving process, determining adequacy of strategies, and working together collaboratively with coaches and other teachers to listen and explore metacognitive strategies of others.

Let's look at some approaches to reflection. The first reflection approach that brings in metacognition is Brookfield's critical reflection. As we learn and our students learn, we must be critical in our reflection. This is essential to the process of learning. It's critical for teachers to consider areas of success and weakness. We look at information that we gather as teachers and we sort it or analyze it. What do I need to do to reach more students is the question that needs to be asked.

There are three different stages to critical reflection, according to Brookfield. The first stage is to determine the assumptions. What assumptions underlie our thoughts and actions? The second stage is to consider the validity of these assumptions. How do they relate to our real life experiences, and how do they relate to present context? The third and final stage is to transform these assumptions. They should be inclusive, integrative. The knowledge that has been newly formed should help us determine what happens as far as how we act and our practices into the future.

It's important for us to have a sense of who we truly are as professionals. When we're reflective in a critical way, we become much more grounded, according to Brookfield. We become grounded in our actions. And we have the ability to become better communicators with peers and students as far as our goals and our intentions.

When you're a critically reflective teacher, you understand why you think the way you do. And you're able to share this with others. Let's think about an example using these three different stages. And I'll go through each stage. Let's say, as a teacher, I was reflecting on today's lesson and how I integrated learning stations in my math lesson.

During the lesson, the classroom was set up into four different stations and students were divided into groups to rotate through the stations. Each station had a different activity that was all based around the same content. In stage one, my assumptions are that it's important to expose students to various activities to increase opportunities for learning that material. When I consider stage two, I look at the validity of this information.

In other real life scenarios, it is in fact beneficial to have opportunities to learn material in various ways. For example, when learning a skill in a workplace setting, it might be helpful to read about the skill, look at diagrams, maybe watch the skill modeled, and perform the skill yourself.

As I continue with my reflection, I consider stage three, where I transform these assumptions. With these reflections in mind, I can say that it will be beneficial to continue implementing learning stations with diverse learning activities in each station in future classes.

There are many benefits of reflection. We've touched on a few of these. But let's review how reflection can in fact be beneficial. When we reflect, insight and complex learning can occur from our efforts. As teachers, when we reflect, we're challenged to create meaning from what we have learned. We're forced to really look at our instruction. How are students reacting? How can we improve? How can we revise? How can we increase students' levels of achievement by making improvements?

When teachers and coaches go over lessons together, it's important to look for new or more effective ways to increase students' learning. This can be a result of reflection. We can use reflection to slow us down. Is our instruction effective? Are things moving in a direction we desire? The PDSA cycle of improvement, especially the study phase, is essential to improvement. And reflection can help us consider this.

Reflection also allows the teacher an opportunity to share feelings and thoughts with the instructional coach, or get feedback from the coach. And when we reflect as teachers, we consider not only our own thoughts, but also thoughts and feedback from coaches and other members of our instructional improvement team. We can make connections here. Finally, the biggest benefit to reflecting is that the improvements that stem from these reflections are great. We improve as a teacher and our quality of instruction improves.

Let's talk about what we learned today. We looked at the questions, what are approaches to reflection and what is the impact of meaningful reflection in the coaching process. In this lesson, we explored reflection. As a teacher, this is one of the most important responsibilities you have. Reflection is so beneficial. And we're able to deeply examine our own thoughts and other's thoughts and feedback here. We're able to slow down and ensure we're on track. And we're forced to create meaning about what we've learned.

Now that you're more familiar with these concepts, let's reflect. Consider a scenario from your experiences in the classroom. Walk through the three stages of critical reflection.

Thanks for joining me today in discussing the lesson, Reflection and Instructional Coaching. I hope you found value in this video lesson and are able to apply these ideas and resources to your own teaching. Now it's your turn to apply what you've learned in this video. The additional resources section will be super helpful. This section is designed to help you discover useful ways to apply what you've learned here. Each link includes a brief description so you can easily target the resources that you want.

Notes on “Reflection and Instructional Coaching”


(00:00- 00:24) Introduction/Objectives

(00:25- 01:50) What is Reflection?

(01:51- 02:50) Metacognition

(02:51- 05:49) Critical Reflection/Example

(05:50- 07:22) Benefits of Reflection

(07:23- 07:54) Recap

(07:55- 08:32) Reflection 

Additional Resources

Kansas Coaching Project: The Principles of Partnership

This article provides important guidance on using the principles of partnership and reflection in instructional coaching.,%202011/What%20Good%20Coaches%20Do.pdf

Learning Through Reflection 

This chapter from the book Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind examines the use of of self-reflection for student improvement.

Six Steps to Master Teaching: Becoming a Reflective Practitioner

This Edutopia article provides six steps to becoming a master teacher, including reflective teaching practices.

Reflective Teaching as a Strategy for Teacher Growth

This ASCD article explores the power of peer to peer learning and sharing to improve instruction.