TEACHING BLOG

19. Reflexive Teaching – How can I improve?

Reflexive teaching is an essential part of a teacher´s working life. What is important to understand is that reflection on teaching strategies and planning are an ongoing process and is an integral part of progressing as a teaching professional. What a teacher needs to have clearly organised within their planning are the learning goals and the methodology with which they wish to achieve these goals. It is important to remember that we are human, we will make mistakes and that we should not beat ouselves up about it, but think of ways with which to improve perfomance in the future, because there is always room for improvement.

The simple way of being an effective teacher is to be a reflective teacher and to think about the success of the way we teach. We need to look at our strategies before, during and after our classes and through trial and error see what works and what doesn´t. What we need to do is think ´Did the class go well? why or why not?´and also, ´How would I do things differently if I could repeat the class?´. It is important to do this little by little because there are so many factor that can influence the outcome of a class, such as time, planning, behaviour, resources etc. The important thing to do is to take note of not only what works and what doesn´t (see 3. My Little Book of Ideas). By doing this we can look at activities that can be used and improved and also reflect on how to do so. We need to remember that teaching activities may work well with certain groups and not so much with others but that is all part of the fun 😉

It is very important to try to look at the positives as well as the negatives because it can really get you down if you are not careful. When I observe my teachers (part of my role as head of studies) I always begin with the positives and discuss the negatives as ´room for improvement´ not as mistakes. Motivation is an important factor and if a teacher enjoys what they are doing, is relaxed and willing to experiment, they generally are better at their job.

Here are some ways to incorporate reflexive teaching into our classes:

  1. Teaching log. All teachers should have a teaching log, in which they go over their classes and way that they could improve them. This is a process that takes time and really good teachers will never really be 100%satisfied with the outcome of their classes. The key is to have clear strategies to improve flaws in their teaching methods.
  2. Observations. Another way is to have your classes observed by other teachers. It is great to have a second opinion on how to improve.
  3. Video classes. Through video analysis, teachers can watch and break down their classes to get a real picture of their methods. With this evidence they can look for ways to improve.
  4. Feedback. Through asking our students for feedback on our teaching methods we can see their point of view and also check the effectiveness of our strategies.
  5. Read. Through reading teaching blogs or research we can get a wider idea of how to create and an effective teaching environment, benefiting from the experience of other teachers.

Suggested teaching resources

[Learning Languages, Learning Life-skills: Autobiographical Reflexive Approach to Teaching and Learning a Foreign Language] (By: Riitta Jaatinen) [published: December, 2006]

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