• Importance of reflection
  • Attributes of self-reflection
  • Four lenses of reflection
  • Embedding reflection in practice
  • References

Importance of reflection

Learning environments move at a rapid pace, with new initiatives regularly introduced alongside the usual busyness and demands on a teacher. It can be challenging to find the time to reflect on the impact of teaching practice across the range of lessons and learner interactions that take place on a daily basis.

However, taking time for reflection can be an effective form of professional learning for teachers to stop and consider learning sequences or new initiatives, evaluate what has been successful and what changes need to be made. It is important to learn from practice and to be a part of a culture that values continuous improvement.

 

Attributes of self-reflection

Self-reflection can be challenging but is an integral part of reflecting on your teaching practice. John Dewey describes three attributes that support reflective practice:

  • Wholeheartedness: A deep commitment to learning. 
  • Open-mindedness: The ability to learn and see areas for personal and professional growth. 
  • Responsibility: Understanding that you are responsible for your teaching practice and its impact. 

Having these attributes front of mind can assist in reflection.

Four lenses of reflection

Stephen Brookfield offers four lenses, or perspectives, that can assist you to reflect on your practice from different vantage points. He suggests viewing from the perspectives of:

  • The Autobiographical: Reflecting on your own experiences and pedagogical choices.
  • The Learner: Considering learner perceptions and experiences, through learner perception surveys, formative or summative assessment and other observations.
  • Colleagues: Enabling shared experiences, which can be informal discussions or formalised through peer observation.
  • Theoretical literature: Undertaking reading, professional learning and research.

Embedding reflection into practice

  • Keep a journal and make a time every week and at the end of a learning sequence in order to reflect on practice. This can be quick – a few dot points about lessons or strategies that went well and why. Equally important, make notes of what was unsuccessful and why. At the end of the term go over these notes and use what you have learnt, building it into future practice.
  • Consider including a section on reflection in lesson planning documentation, giving yourself the ability to review your reflections on that lesson should you choose to use similar strategies in future. 
  • Find a mentor or a coach – or offer to be a mentor or coach. These relationships are inherently built on reflection, collaboration and improving practice over time.
  • Test your reflections with your mentor/coach or other colleagues who have observed your practice – get their reflections on what they thought worked and what could be improved to give you a more holistic picture of your practice and areas for growth.
  • After completing and applying professional learning to your practice, reflect on what you learnt, how you applied it to your practice and any changes that could be made to further enhance the impact of the learning. These reflections can form the basis of annotations for your teacher registration requirements.

References

Ben Miller, Brookfield's Four Lenses: Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher, Faculty of Arts Teaching and Learning Committee, The University of Sydney, March 2010, https://valenciacollege.edu/faculty/development/courses-resources/documents/Brookfield_summary.pdf

NSW Government, Reflective Practice, viewed October 16, 2020, https://education.nsw.gov.au/teaching-and-learning/professional-learning/teacher-quality-and-accreditation/strong-start-great-teachers/developing-focus/reflective-practice/reflective-practice-questions,