8 Chapter Eight: Reflecting and Growing
“Reflection is deliberate and structured thinking about choices. It is an integral step to improving our practice. Through reflection, we as educators, can look clearly at our struggles and consider options for change.” (Taryn Sanders) Reflection involves looking at student work to determine the efficacy of your instruction. It’s a process of self-observation and self-evaluation. Reflection comes in many forms including:
- written accounts of experiences (journal writing, blogging, self-reporting)
- audio/video recording of teaching to capture the moment-to-moment process of teaching
- collaborating with colleagues
- analyzing student work
- peer observation can provide opportunities for you to view other colleagues in order to expose yourself to different teaching styles and to provide opportunities for critical reflection on your own teaching
The most successful, highly effective teachers are reflective practitioners. Following the teaching of your planned lesson, you will reflect upon your instruction and experience. You will do so with the educator who observed your lesson (Supervising Practitioner, Field Placement Faculty, or a member of the GSC Faculty). This is an extremely valuable opportunity in which to receive constructive feedback that, if acted upon, will positively impact the planning and execution of your future instruction.
At Granite State College we strongly recommend that you to video tape yourself as you instruct students. This provides powerful insight into your teaching practices and habits. It allows you to observe everything from your body language to your verbal language as well as interactions with students. It enables you to monitor your effective implementation of professional instructional practice. As a result of reflection you are able to identify an area for growth in future lessons.
You are additionally expected to reflect in writing following your observed teaching, referring to effective documented evidence of your students’ progress in planning the next steps in your students’ learning. You’ll reflect upon the processes used in your instruction and the classroom environment. You’ll note what went well and determine an area of your teaching to focus upon in the future.
Data related to your students’ lesson objective mastery must be presented. This data should show the degree to which individual students met the lesson objective(s). A table, tally sheet, or checklist is often the clearest way to display this data.
|Students||S/D #1||S/D #2||S/D #3||S/D #4||S/D #5||S/D #6||Notes|
|D.K.||+||+||+||+||+||+||added more; enrichment|
|C.C.||+||+||+||–||–||–||confused similarity & difference|
|H.B.||absent; needs to make up|
|E.G.||+||+||+||+||+||+||mastered verbally (adapted assessment)|
|T.C.||+||+||+||+||+||+||added more; enrichment|
|C.W.||+||+||+||+||–||–||confused similarity & difference|
Analysis: It is evident that subgroups could be created to address current levels of student understanding. These could consist of two different mini-lessons; one for distinguishing similarity/difference and one for reviewing the text in identifying additional similarities/differences. A third subgroup needs a higher level of challenge.
Referring to the data collection above, this may look like:
The next lesson will include several different groupings:
- T.C. and D.K. will pursue further research in an ‘expert group’ in which they’ll create a project of choice related to the class topic.
- C.C. and C.W. will participate in a mini-lesson distinguishing the meanings of similar and different.
- N.M. and M.N. will join a mini-lesson in which a new text about the rainforest will be shared. Strategies for extracting facts will be modeled as the students compare the plants and animals.
Show your plan for improving student understanding of the objective in your next lesson based on the student work generated during this lesson. Look carefully at the student work produced in this lesson and determine how you might best address any misunderstandings students are demonstrating or how you might take students to the next level of learning relevant to your objective in the subsequent lesson.
Reflect on the supports you included for your special education students. How did your supports for students influence their learning outcomes? Note the adjustments you made to respond to your special education students’ needs, as well as future adjustments that will be increasingly beneficial. What is your plan for decreasing students’ reliance on these supports, eventually removing them?