Reflective Teaching: Strategies to Improve Classroom Effectiveness

K Krishna Rao

Principal, Delhi Public School, Bhimavaram, Dist: West Godavari, Andhra Pradesh

Teaching has undergone a sea change when compared to ancient times. The age old tradition of chalk and talk method is no longer relevant in the present day. In the past, learning took place in the class rooms where students listened to lectures, teachers asked questions and students answered them. All information was confined to text book material. Schools used to prepare learners for exams . Hence, teaching was mostly exam preparation. The present system of imparting education is far more global and today’s students learn through the internet, learn through interaction with others – inside the class or outside, or from people from other countries and so on. They develop a spirit of inquiry. They ask questions, explore, experiment and investigate new ideas. Although preparation for exam is still important, the concept of learning to learn has become very important.

What is Reflective Teaching?

According to Julie Tice "Reflective teaching means looking at what you do in the classroom, thinking about why you do it, and thinking about if it works - a process of self-observation and self-evaluation."

It is a systematic reflection on teachers’ practices within the classroom. It is a personal tool that teachers can use to observe and evaluate the way they behave in their classroom.

Why Reflective Teaching?

Reflective Teaching plays a major role in the professional development of a teacher . It informs that a teacher is in charge of his/her teaching/learning process and that he/she has a major contribution to make towards its success.

Reflective practice helps teachers to have a deeper understanding of their own teaching styles, teaching beliefs and teaching identities. They think continuously over their teaching practices, analyzing how something was taught and how the practice might be improved or changed for better learning outcomes.

The process of Reflective Teaching

The process of reflection is a cycle which needs to be repeated.

  • Teach
  • Self-assess the effect your teaching has had on learning
  • Consider new ways of teaching which can improve the quality of learning
  • Try these ideas in practice
  • Repeat the process

How to be a Reflective Teacher

1. Record your own teaching – Audio/Video

Many things happen simultaneously in a classroom, and some aspects of a lesson cannot be recalled.

Many significant classroom events may not have been observed by the teacher, let alone remembered.

This helps to assess

a) Your communication skills;

b) Students' engagement in the class;

c) Resource management;

d) Efficiency;

e) Movement in the class;

f) Students' dynamics

2. Students' Feedback

Getting feedback from your students is invaluable. Instead of waiting for delayed feedback from end-of-course surveys, get your own student feedback! Students will feel more involved in their own learning and help shape the class, which in turn increases motivation and engagement.

At the end of each week, ask students to give anonymous feedback that you can put into practice almost instantly. Guide them by framing the feedback in the form of sentence prompts (e.g. I’d like more…, I’d like less…, My favourite aspect of this week was…, My least favourite aspect of this week was…).

Build an environment of trust before taking feedback.

3. Peer Observation

Invite a colleague to observe your class and provide you critical feedback.

Peer observations work best if there’s a positive, encouraging, friendly atmosphere amongst you and your colleagues. Such activities can help foster a team spirit that is conducive to continued professional development.

4. Personal teaching diary

Keep a daily diary to record your thoughts on the day’s lesson reflecting on various areas of interest (e.g. What went well? What could I have done differently? How will I modify my presentation of that language in the future? Were there any problems and did I deal with them effectively?).

By encouraging you to spend time thinking and reflecting on each day, this diary-keeping process raises self-awareness, which is the first step in improvement.

Conclusion

If you take the time to reflect on your teaching, and reflect on how different parts of what you do work well, where aspects of your teaching can be improved, and how problems which arise could be solved, that is bound to help you to improve your teaching.

When starting off with reflecting on your teaching you may tend to concentrate on problems which arise. By carefully and honestly considering and analysing those problems, you will improve your own capacity to find solutions.

As you reflect on your practice, you will find you need to make decisions about what to do (or not to do) next. You may well have a number of choices which you have to weigh up, and deciding which one to take can be difficult. If you regularly reflect on your teaching in depth, you are regularly going to come across the need to make decisions, but the results of your reflective practice will help you to make those decisions in a more informed, thoughtful and objective manner.

K Krishna Rao

Principal, Delhi Public School, Bhimavaram, Dist: West Godavari, Andhra Pradesh