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Reflective Practices for Teachers

Reflective Practices for Teachers

Author: Katie Hou

This lesson will introduce learners to components of reflective practice.

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Hello, and thank you for joining me today to discuss reflective practices for teachers. We have a lot of essential questions that we're going to be able to answer by the end of today's tutorial.

And they include, what is single loop and double loop learning. How can one reflect on the big picture of teaching? How can I use guiding questions and reflection on my teaching? And what are some strategies I can use for reflection?

Let's get started by having a quick reflection overview. Remember that reflection can be individualized professional development. It can be as simple as just doing what worked, what didn't work, and how can I improve. Remember, that's called plus minus delta.

And we also have just simple journaling. It's whatever works for that specific teacher. It's just being an intentional practitioner and reflecting on your teaching. When teachers reflect, they can reflect on all or one of the following elements. And those include design, planning, or implementation.

So when we're talking about design, we're just talking about the way that we've designed the lesson for the student. Hopefully, you've used one of the strategies that we've discussed in this unit, such as Understanding by Design. Planning also falls under design. And then implementation, which is the actual delivery of the lesson.

And one of the main goals of reflection is to move from single-loop learning to double-loop learning. So what exactly do I mean by single loop and double loop?

Well, we're going to look at Schon's view. Schon said that single-loop learning was pretty much like a thermostat. So once the house got to a certain degree, the thermostat kicked on, the house cooled down. The house would then heat up again, the thermostat would kick on, it would cool down. Then it would heat up, and so on and so forth in this cycle.

And so there's a couple things that make single-loop learning not as engaging for the students. It's automatic, meaning, they're doing it without really thinking. It's rigid. They're not engaged in it.

And it also requires singular responses from the student. Hopefully, you can see why this is troublesome, because this is the opposite of what we've been talking about in all of these education tutorials.

We want to have higher-order thinking skills. If there's a singular response, it's probably going to be at one of the lower-order thinking skills. Our essential questions are supposed to be open-ended questions that require discourse and encourage inquiry. And if it's a singular response, that's not happening.

We also obviously want our students to be engaged in our learning. We don't want it to be this rigid automatic thing.

So what we want to do is to move to double-loop learning. And this just involves thinking about why something did or did not work. So this obviously goes back to teacher reflection-- what worked, what didn't, and how can we improve on that.

So that's basically we're going from single loop-- this is what I've done in the past, this is what I've always done, this is what I'm going to do every year idea of learning where students are all treated like they're the same sort of learner-- and we want to move towards double-loop learning, which is where the teacher is able to sit and reflect on what worked, what didn't, and how he or she can improve that lesson.

So it isn't about reinventing the wheel. And I don't want you guys to walk away thinking about that, because it is nice when you get to teach the same course year after year, and you get to use some of the same materials.

And I do that. I've been teaching English II for years and years. And I do some of the same units. But mostly, I teach the same texts.

The way I teach the texts really depends on the students that I have each year. So we're doing double-loop learning, even though it is some of the same texts and same essays based on student needs.

This also leads us to Pappas' view. So Pappas developed guiding questions for reflection. And they're actually based on Bloom's taxonomy.

So I've created a graphic here that shows us that Bloom's taxonomy pyramid with those thinking verbs. On the lowest level we have remember. And we move all the way up to the highest level of thought, which is creating.

And so next to each one of those we have one of Pappas' guiding questions. So please feel free to pause and read over these guiding questions.

To highlight just a couple with remember, we have what did I do. So that is what did I do in my classroom today. What exactly did we do? This is just a recall question.

Then we're moving higher up the pyramid with analyzing. What patterns were present in what I did? And then creating. What should I do next? How can I move forward from here?

So next, we're going to talk briefly about Hatton and Smith's view on reflection. Hatton and Smith believe that written reflections are best. And they're even more powerful than just thinking. And they also say that they're even more powerful than discussing it with a coworker.

So they have four strategies for written reflections. One is that they want to have descriptive writing. And so descriptive writing is where you just simply report the events of what happened for that day.

So it's like if you've ever written a behavior report. You're not supposed to inject your opinion or adjectives or anything like that. You're just supposed to write things exactly as they occurred. That's what they suggest as stage 1.

And from this, it's really a jumping-off point, because then you move on to descriptive reflection. And this is just when the teacher provides reasons for their actions based on personal judgment. So why did I do this? Or, based on this happening in the classroom, this was my response. Now that I am reflecting on it, why was this my response?

Then you move on to a dialogic reflection. And this is just when you literally have a discourse with yourself. And it helps you explore the reasons for your choices during instruction.

So again, you start with descriptive writing. You're just writing what happened. Then you have descriptive reflection. What did I do in reaction to what happened?

Then you have the dialogic reflection, which is, why did I do the things that I did. This is where it goes into metacognition and you're thinking about thinking.

And then you move onto the critical reflection. And this is just when you give reasons for decisions, and you're taking into account the historical context of your classroom, as well as the social and political context of your classroom. So I reacted this way to this situation because this is the historical context of my classroom. Or, I decided to provide a snack in the middle of the lesson because I know that my students aren't getting enough to eat in the mornings, and they don't eat lunch till 12:30. And I wanted to make sure that they weren't losing their attention. And this is based on just the data that I've created.

So let's take a minute to reflect on these different reflection strategies. What reflection strategy are you currently using in your classroom? Are you using one of the ones we talked about? And if not, what are you using? Next, what method, as described today, are you most likely to utilize in the near future and why?

In closing, today we talked about what single-loop and double-loop learning is. We talked about how we can reflect on the big picture of teaching. We talked about how we can use guiding questions in reflection on our teaching. And we also talked about what some strategies are for reflection.

To dive a little deeper and learn how to apply this information, be sure to check out the Additional Resources section associated with this video. This is where you'll find links targeted toward helping you discover more ways to apply this course material.

Thank you for joining me, and happy teaching.

Notes on “Reflective Practices for Teachers”


(00:00-00:17) Introduction

(00:18-01:08) Reflection Overview

(01:09-03:15) Schon’s View

(03:16-04:03) Pappas’ view

(04:04-06:05) Hatton and Smith’s View

(06:06-06:33) Reflection

(06:34-07:07) Conclusion 

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.