Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Reflective Teaching

      Twitter has always been my favourite Professional Development haven. It's thanks to Twitter that I connected with like-minded professionals and one of the most professional moments that I took part in is #ELTchat. Not only did I take part in the chat; but also suggested the topic of last week's #ELTchat. And what honours me, is that I was invited by Marisa Constantinides to sum up our chat. I would like to share with you all this summary and not forget to thank Marisa and Sue for their unfailing support. Thank you for everything.

                                               Title: Reflective Teaching


This ELTchat took place on the 31st of January #ELTchat and I am extremely pleased to be the one who suggested this topic and help a little by doing the summary of this chat.

The chat kicked off with some discussion related to clarifying our terms and why we need to be reflective teacher practitioners.

Reflective teaching is always a current topic and it is part and parcel of a teacher’s toolkit of 21st Century skills.

Indeed, how can we teach effectively if we do not take time to reflect seriously and deeply on our daily practices ?

Reflection on its own may not be sufficient. Following up with a well considered action plan should be a necessary part of the process.

We would then be in a better position to introduce some changes, in the light of what we have pondered over.

#ELTchat participants then discussed some of the useful tools that could help teachers become both effective and efficient in their classrooms.

Useful tools for Reflective Practice
  • Keeping a teaching journal
  • Recording / filming lessons
  • Reflection diaries
  • Blogging
  • Reading blogs
  • Going to webinars
  • Going to workshops
  • Peer Observation

Creating a quality Circle: to talk about one’s teaching with trusted colleagues, a sine qua non of effective reflective practice

Some thought on how to reflect on one’s practices or how to support a colleague in their attempt to improve by providing them with feedback.

Introspection which is non-judgmental, but rather a recording a facts, the description of classroom events and teacher/learner actions, by jotting down observations of one’s lesson.

As Marisa Constantinides‏ (@Marisa_C) suggested, it might be useful to review these facts and them think about changes: “focus on three crucial points: things to keep, things to skip, things to change.”

Sharing one’s thoughts with a trusted peer: In order not to be hard on oneself, as Sue Annan‏ (@SueAnnan) pointed out: “it’s good to share one’s observations , or reflections with a “trusted colleague”.

Putting heads together and thinking of new possible alternatives to implement, that could improve both teaching/ learning

Creating an Action Plan - An action plan involves describing steps of how you can go about attaining your goal - what you should read, what you should focus on “Action point, trailing, consistency and reflection again! The circle of reflection” as Georgia Papa (@Papamihailidou) suggested.

⇰ Reflection may not be successful and efficient, if we do not take it as a never-ending cycle. The process is rewarding for both teachers/ learners

Key points to consider in Reflective Teaching

Some words of caution

Reflective teaching can lead nowhere , if it is done on its own and is not followed up by an action plan.

Choose one point of focus, such as the idea that Elizabeth Jackson (@@MoreMsJackson) suggested : “I had some free choice "Skills" lesson with elementary level students so I chose a pronunciation focus. My journal was mostly focused on how the activities went, the students' responses, notes for the next lesson, notes on how I'd improve the lesson next time.”

Reflection without knowledge is pointless

It’s important that it should continue beyond one’s training on a course (such as the CELTA) but do all teachers keep it up? A good question!

“That’s the million dollar question. I do see the use of it, though. Lately I’ve been having more teaching-related conversations with colleagues and even that has helped bring things to my attention. It’s easy to go on autopilot.” @ Este Coetzee tweeted in response to this

Does technology foster reflective teaching/ learning or not?

Some views , during our ELT chat, came along to cast doubt on the usefulness of technology in fostering and encouraging the practice of reflection on our lessons, something which would need some quality research to shed light on.

Yet, for teachers to start blogging and journaling publicly, a lot of courage is needed on the part of the teacher to expose one’s teaching, thoughts and reflections to the world.

Nevertheless, reading blogs, attending webinars, going to conferences would foster the teachers’ sense of critical thinking and help them build a repertoire of ideas and knowledge as well as alternative techniques and practices to try in their classes.

Moreover, videotaping and recording lessons could be of great help to teachers to go back to their lessons and think objectively and critically about what went well and what needs improvement. However, teachers need to be cautious about filming their students and they have to stick to the regulations of filming students by having the parents’ authorisation.

By and large, I hope this #ELTchat summary would motivate many of you to join this wonderful bevvy of caring teachers and voice out your views.

I am honoured I joined you and I am very sure many of you would join us all, in our next #ELtchat. Thank you Marisa from the bottom of my heart for editing my work. Your help has been very invaluable. Thank you Sue for your precious support.Last but not least, the company of wonderful educators from all over the globe is a priceless experience. Do not fail to join!

Contributors to ELTchat

Marisa Constantinides‏ @Marisa_C
Sue Annan‏ @SueAnnan
Georgia K. Papa @Papamihailidou
ESTE COETZEE‏ @este_moscow
Glenys Hanson @GlenysHanson
Elisabeth Jackson‏ @MoreMsJackson
Russ Mayne‏ @ebefl
Mike Harrison‏ @harrisonmike
Faten Romdhani @Romdhanifaten

As Marisa and Elisabeth Jackson‏ (@MoreMsJackson) drew our attention to the paucity of materials written in this field (teacher reflection) where most of the background literature has been written for the general education class, not English Language Teaching, we need to share with you the few links and titles shared during our #ELTchat:
Beyong Training, JackC.Richards (C.U.P 1998)

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