I considered my learner profiles and the vast amount of information we find out about our learners, alot of which we learn without realising. I considered how this is used to form the basis of my teaching context, the language I use and how I pitch the content to engage the learner so that I give help them give relevance to their context. These can all be considered advantages of reflective practice.
Disadvantages would be the temptation to over analyse a particularly difficult session and we are often our own harshest critics, or to move on too quickly, not taking the time to consider 'what I did', 'how I did it' or 'why I did it' and how can it be improved next time.
I find reflection is a very useful tool to help me create a greater self awareness of my teaching practice and is a very good self assessment activity. I find it helps me to improve my study and work strategies, my time managment and session structure and generally makes me better informed for next time.
Some questions I often ask myself and others?
- Why did this happen?
- What could be improved?
- How could it have gone better or differently
- How can I engage all the learners?
Other tools and methods that I use with my students for their own reflective practice are reflective journals,
"Gillian Bouras (1999), 'a contemporary Australian writer who keeps a journal to record
and explore the complexity of her personal experiences, reminds us that the words
‘journal’ and ‘journey’ have the same Latin derivative, coming to the English language
from the Old French. She mentions the rich history of journal writing and lists famous
and infamous people who have used journals for personal and professional insight.'
(as cited in Francis, 2006 p.1) . Thinking critically and using this reflection time to pro-actively make improvements can certainly be seen as a journey of growth.
The way I encourage my students to do this is through writing in their blog and gaining feedback in the form of questions from me. I use my session plans to record how well a session ran and what improvements are needed, this helps me review the session for future reference. Atherton,(2005) agrees that the process of reflection needs a mentor to ask the appropriate questions to ensure the connection process goes somewhere.
Marigold Francis's (2006) research demonstrates students use of journals as a way of exploring their connections between theory and practice.
"It is common also for social work and law students to keep journals as a way of exploring
their connections between theory and practice. "(as cited in Francis, 2006 p.2) During my GCTLT study I have found myself reflecting on those connections too.
This process helps me better prepare a course so that it identifies the needs of the individual learners, the context of the environment and the support systems in place.
Marigold Francis,(2006) The journey of a thousand words-taking the first steps towards professional self-reflection. Retrieved from http://ehlt.flinders.edu.au/education/reflectivepractice/reflect/Journey.pdf
Atherton, J. S. (2005). Learning and teaching: Reflection and Reflective Practice. Retrieved on 09 May 2013 from http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/reflection.htm