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Reflective Strategies

Reflective Strategies

Author: Trisha Fyfe

In this lesson, students will learn strategies for reflection.

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Welcome, I'm Trisha Fyfe, and in today's video lesson we'll look at the lesson titled Reflective Strategies. As we learn about this topic, we will work towards several main learning objectives and together we'll use the following questions to guide our learning. What are areas of focus in reflection, what are reflective strategies, and what are the characteristics of effective reflective questions?

Let's start by looking at the role of the coach in assisting the teacher in the process of reflection. It's essential for the coach to help guide the teacher in using reflection questions that are beneficial and supportive to the goals. The coach can offer the teacher advice on areas for reflection, which can include student needs and responses, experience and insights, and instructional approach. Each of these areas have some great questions that we can use to encourage the teacher to look at these areas.

For example, student needs and responses. How do I make instruction more engaging and meaningful? How can I change my instruction to be more meaningful? What is the level of engagement of my students?

Let's look at a question from experience and insights. How did the lesson feel from my perspective as a teacher? And another question, what have I learned from the new techniques I have tried?

And let's look at a few questions from instructional approach. What can be done to improve the lesson? What are innovative activities for the content?

A moment to look through these questions. Collaboration is so critical here. The teacher and coach must communicate and work together to explore various areas. There will be many discussions about reflections that both the teacher and the coach have together.

Let's look at some reflective strategies. First, discussions. These will become a very important part of the teacher's coaching experience. The learning processes of the teacher will be discussed often, and coaches should encourage reflection of the process. This might include having teachers take a deeper look at their instructional methods.

Another reflective strategy here is interviews. The teacher could interview with the instructional coach or, if a teacher is in a professional learning community at their school, they may interview with the PLC.

These interviews do not need to use a specific structure. This process can be guided or, at times, a free-form format for the interview might be more beneficial. The goal of these interviews is to encourage the teacher to reflect on what they have learned thus far and where this learning is taking them. How is this learning helping in their teaching?

We could also use reflective questions. Reflective questions should be based on learning. What is taking place? What has been learned and what changes have been made? What has been successful?

It is extremely important for the teacher to answer the questions in an honest manner. And this is dependent on the coach-teacher relationship having established trust.

Another strategy for reflection is lesson review. Each element of the lesson can be gone through collaboratively, play by play. A great tool to use when considering lesson review is recording lessons. This allows the coach and teacher to stop or pause or even rewind and watch certain parts over again. This is extremely helpful in the reflection process.

The last reflection strategy we'll explore today is the use of logs and journals. Teachers may be asked by coaches to use journals or logs to write down reflections, and these ideas can be explored at a later time. This method is super helpful if the coaching meetings are spread out some and not held each day. These journals ask the teacher to reflect by considering what have I learned, how can I apply this learning to the future, and how can I change my approach?

Let's take a look at reflective questions. This is also a very helpful strategy. A list of questions can be created by the teacher, coach, or both, and used as a guide in the improvement process.

Reflective questions that are effective are not yes or no questions. They're open ended. They're designed to promote deep thought and discussion opportunities. They must not be too general. Instead, they should be specific to an aspect or piece to the process.

Reflective questions should have a focus on the teacher and the role of the teacher, not on the behavior of the students. The goal in developing and using these questions is not to list out all of the issues and concerns. Instead it's to use the questions to develop possible solutions.

Let's take a look at some examples of reflective questions. Here's the first. Did you use strategies to engage your students throughout the whole lesson?

This question is not effective. This is, in fact, a yes or no question, and it should be written in a more open-ended manner. For example, we can change it to, what were some specific strategies that you used to promote student engagement throughout this lesson?

Let's take a look at another. We'll look at the ineffective as well as the effective. First, did your students transition to the next activity appropriately and in a timely manner?

Aside from the fact that, again, it's a yes or no question, this also is addressing students' behavior when, in fact, we want to focus on the teacher. So let's change it to, what management strategies were used to help students transition from large group time to small groups and then back to large group? Were these strategies successful?

Let's look at one more. The first question is, how do you think the lesson went?

This is not effective in that it is too general. We can change it to be more specific. If you could teach the same lesson again, what would you do differently? What would you do the same way?

Let's take a look at how reflective strategies can be applied to the coaching process. Coaches have many important roles in the process for improving instruction, and it's essential that coaches are not evaluative but instead guide teachers in learning how to reflect if they need assistance. They must walk teachers through this process, modeling techniques.

It's also critical for teachers to learn how to be meaningful and intentional in their reflections, and this is something that might not come very naturally. The coach should help here too. They can get to know the teacher and the reflective strategies that that teacher already has as they begin their relationship. Then they can offer guidance where appropriate.

They must also get to know the teacher well enough to understand what reflection strategies will work for that teacher in particular. Each teacher is very different. As the coach and teacher develop a strong relationship, they get to know each other better and the coach will move from leading and guiding to becoming an equal partner in the reflection and collaboration.

The teacher, if they are at all uncomfortable in reflection and examining their self and practices, will begin to establish trust in the ideas and support that their coach is offering. This should turn into a positive relationship where there is trust from both individuals. It's so extremely helpful for teachers when they're learning how to navigate their teaching and learning.

Coaches should guide-- guide the focus of reflection. They should guide the direction of reflection and help ensure that things stay on track, redirecting when needed to keep reflection relevant to teacher goals and positive.

It's important for teachers to ask meaningful questions that are complex-- what, how, and when do my students learn? Reflection should assist teachers in looking at the progress that they have made and guide steps for involvement, and the coach should be here all along the way to help with these things.

So let's talk about what we learned today. We looked at the questions, what are the areas of focus in reflection, what are reflective strategies, and what are the characteristics of effective reflective questions?

In today's lesson, we talked about the importance of reflection and the coach's role in supporting teachers through this process of effective reflection. We explored reflection strategies, such as discussions, interviews, logs, and journals, and reflective questions, and I walked you through some sample reflective questions-- some that were not effective and we changed those to effective reflective questions.

Now that you're more familiar with these concepts, let's reflect. What are the benefits to using reflective questions in the instructional coaching relationship? In which areas of reflection would you benefit from more support and guidance?

Thanks for joining me today in discussing the lesson, Reflective Strategies. I hope you found value in this video lesson, and I hope you're able to apply these ideas to your very own teaching.

As you reflect on this new information and how it can be applied, you may want to explore the additional resources section that accompanies this video presentation. This is where you'll find links to resources chosen to help you deepen your learning and explore ways to apply your newly acquired skill set.

Notes on “Reflective Strategies”


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

(00:25- 01:47) Areas of Focus

(01:48- 03:48) Reflective Strategies

(03:49- 04:31) Reflective Questions

(04:32- 05:41) Examples of Reflective Questions

(05:42- 07:30) Reflective Strategies and Coaches

(07:31- 08:06) Recap

(08:07- 08:48) Reflection 

Additional Resources

"Be Sure To": A Powerful Reflection Strategy

This video from the Teaching Channel demonstrates the use of reflective practices in the classroom, and how reflection improves student learning, not just teacher instruction.

27 Reflection Strategies to Improve Your Teaching

These quick and easy to follow reflection strategies can support self-reflection and continuous instructional improvement.

Reflective Practice

This page on the Learning and Teaching website provides reflective practices for teachers to promote continuous improvement and increases in student achievement.

Teaching How to Teach: Coaching Tips from a Former Principal

This Edutopia article provides useful tips for coaching and building trust.