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Reflective Practices for Teachers

Reflective Practices for Teachers

Author: Trisha Fyfe

This lesson will introduce learners to components of reflective practice.

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Welcome to a tutorial on reflective practices for teachers. In today's tutorial, we will discuss the following three questions together. First, what is reflection, and why should we teachers reflect? Second, what are some different viewpoints on teacher reflection? And I will go over three in particular in today's tutorial. And lastly, how can you apply these ideas to your teaching, how can you better your reflective practices?

So let's start out by talking about reflective practice. What does it mean to reflect? Let's talk about professional development and how that comes into play. So us, as teachers, really need to think about developing professionally and continuing to do so. And this is really what reflection is all about. We, as teachers, cannot develop professionally without really reflecting on ourselves as teachers. And when we reflect as teachers, we need to look closely at all stages of lesson development, not only the design and the planning, but also the implementation and how we are implementing the process, our actual learning plan, and things that we can change for the better in the future.

So when us teachers think about reflective practices and-- really, in the terms of single versus double loop-learning, Schon's Model, Donald Schon, is one that comes to mind. And so let's walk through what this model looks like starting with single loop-learning. Single loop-learning, as a learner, involves trying a technique and getting a result. If that result is not effective or is not what was intended, then the learner might try another technique or strategy and get another result.

So it's this cycle of trying a strategy-- getting a result or a consequence, maybe trying another strategy-- getting another result. It's the basis of problem solving. Schon describes this in terms of a thermostat. When the temperature in the room falls to a certain level, the thermostat kicks on and it heats up the room. So in single loop-learning, it's just that. It's an automatic, singular response that's often rigid and set into place.

In double loop-learning, a learner begins to modify the goal with the use of beliefs, assumptions, and different variables. The learner thinks-- how can I change when things aren't working and maybe why did that work or why did that not work. So there's this more complex thinking involved in this cycle. And this is the goal for us teachers-- to get our students to this double loop-learning. Schon's viewpoint on reflection, and the single loop versus double loop-learning is not the only viewpoint you should consider when you're thinking about your own reflective practices as a teacher, however.

The next level that I'd like to talk about with you is Peter Pappas' view on reflection. And you can see here that there's an image of the Bloom's Taxonomy in front of you. And what Peter Pappas does is he takes each level of Bloom's Taxonomy and create guiding questions that can help you, as a teacher, as well as your students as learners. So this is something that you can use for your reflection, and also you can use this as a tool for your students to reflect.

Let's go through each level of this and apply some guiding questions to help reflective practices. At the Remembers stage, the very bottom, the lowest level of thinking, you could use a question like what did I do. And for a teacher reflecting, this might be something like, what was my learning plan. What were my assessment strategies? What did I do for this lesson?

At the Understand stage, a teacher might ask, what was important about it. What, specifically, was important about each of those things-- my assessment strategies, my learning plan? What was important about what I did?

At the Apply stage, you might ask yourself, how could I use this again. How would this work? How would this fit in to future lessons or future concepts that we're going to go over?

In Analyze, you can ask, what patterns were present. Were there positive patterns? Were there negative patterns? We really need to think about all of the outcomes-- positive and negative-- and if they happened again and again, so that we can use that as a tool.

In Evaluate, we can ask, how well did I do. How well did I followed through with my assessment strategies? How well did I put together a learning plan?

And up at the top, in that Create, the highest level of thinking, we could ask, what should I do next. Take all of this information that I've gathered in Remember through Evaluate and apply it to what should I do next.

Another viewpoint to consider is Hatton and Smith's view on reflection. And this involves four different levels of reflection, starting with descriptive writing. The key here is to understand that written reports of events are so much more effective than just thoughts or thinking about something. So actually writing your reflections down is so essential to teachers. In descriptive writing, it's when you write written reports of events. This is what I did. There's no attempts to provide reasons, it's just a starting point for you on your reflection.

Next, they talk about descriptive reflection. And this is where, based on what we know or other personal judgments that we have, we begin to develop or provide reasons about what we saw happening in our reflections. So why did things happen?

The next stage is dialogic reflection. And this is where we start to have some discourse with ourselves, and we start to become more engaged with ourselves and think about what reasons and alternatives we as teachers had. Our choices that we made-- why did we make those choices? Was there any logic behind those choices?

The last stage of reflection in Hatton and Smith's model is critical reflection. And this is where we explore our choices by applying them. And when we apply them, we take into account historical, social, and political context. So we look at our thoughts and our processes, and we apply those to a larger context.

Let's talk about what we reviewed and learned today. In this tutorial, we worked through the following three questions. What is reflection and why should we teachers reflect? What are some different viewpoints on teacher reflecting? And remember, we talked about three models or viewpoints today. We talked about single loop-learning versus double loop-learning, which is Schon's model or viewpoint. We talked about Pappas' connecting guiding questions to Bloom's Taxonomy. And we also talked about Hatton and Smith's four stages of the reflective process. Lastly, we talked about how can you apply these ideas to your teaching. Not only did I take you through each viewpoint, but we looked at some really key advantages and examples of each of the three viewpoints.

Great information in today's tutorial. As always, I enjoyed going through these examples and ideas with you. And I hope that you are able to find use for these three viewpoints in your own teaching.

Let's apply these ideas by reflecting using some questions. What are some strategies for reflection that you might use? What are the benefits to reflecting as a teacher? 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 you want.

Notes on :Reflective Practices for Teachers"


(00:00- 00:27) Introduction/objectives

(00:28 - 01:11) What is Reflection?

(01:12- 02:44) Schon’s Viewpoint

(02:45- 04:44) Pappas’ Viewpoint

(04:45- 06:20) Hatton and Smith’s Viewpoint

(06:21- 07:46) Review/Reflection

Additional Resources

The Reflective Teacher: A Taxonomy of Reflection (Part 3)

This post on educator Peter Pappas' blog is about teacher reflection using Digital Bloom's. Pappas also provides useful tips for using student reflection in the classroom.

Educational Technology and Mobile Learning: Bloom's Taxonomy of Reflection for Teachers
A useful presentation on how teachers can use Bloom's Taxonomy in their reflection process to improve their practice.

Reflection4Learning: Double Loop Learning

This is a Google site dedicated to reflective teaching and learning practices. This site reviews how to use the Double Loop Cycle of Inquiry in reflection to improve teaching and learning. The infographics provide a clear picture of the cycle and its impact on instructional practice.