Have you ever walked by a mirror after spending an hour in public only to realize your mascara was smeared half way across your face? Or maybe you caught a glimpse of yourself in a shop window as you strolled along…you and that piece of toilet paper stuck to your shoe. My colleague once sauntered into a local gas station with his wife’s underwear stuck to his shirt—thanks to good ole’ static cling! What do these things have in common (other than being extremely embarrassing AND funny!)? Well, they could have all been corrected with a peek in the mirror. Let’s talk about the use of reflection as it pertains to our professional lives.
The only way to see yourself clearly (and quickly self-correct) is through self-reflection. I mean, let’s be real, not one of us is perfect. As educators, we want to make sure we put our best forward for students, families and other stakeholders. To do that, we need to take a look in the mirror on a regular basis.
Teacher reflection should be done often, and educators need the time to do this. Whenever possible, administrators and leaders should encourage and support teachers in this process. I know this is a challenge given our daily demands, but without it, growth likely won’t happen.
Here are some easy-to-implement self-reflection exercises that can help you improve your practice! I hope you can find one or two that work for you.
- Add a spot at the end of each lesson plan to reflect and make notes about how the lesson might have gone better. This will allow you to make the necessary changes for improvement before you teach the lesson again. You can find the Learners Edge lesson plan template here which includes a post lesson teacher reflection section.
- Keep a journal! Make it fun! Check out this cool link to creative journaling. Personally, I like to use colored markers and stickers. (Yes, even as an adult!)
- WALK! I have some of my best reflective moments when I take a walk outside. There is science behind why walking can help you think. Take a look at this article!
- Get feedback. Ask your students how you are doing. Ask your colleagues for input. Create a short survey to garner the information you need.
- Make professional development a priority. Learning new strategies and approaches will help you reflect on your current practices, make adjustments, and find new ways to improve student outcomes. Each of our Learners Edge courses includes at least one reflective opportunity.
- Change your perspective. Try looking at your teaching through the eyes of your student. You might even consider video recording a lesson to look at later for self-evaluation. Learn more about how to videotape yourself for self-reflection here.
- Collaborate, partner, interact! Hearing from other professionals on successes, challenges and ideas will help you think about your own.
If you don’t find any strategies that fit your schedule or interests, check out Pinterest with a simple search of “teacher reflection.” There are a million ways to do this. Whatever method you choose, my hope is that you will commit to making reflection a daily activity. It will benefit you AND your students, and it might even save you from a moment of embarrassment!
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Offering more than 100 print-based or online courses for teachers, you can earn the graduate credit you need for salary advancement and meet your professional development needs. Contact us today to get started!