July 14, 2016

Ed Tech, Instructional Coaching, Instructional Technology, Student Achievement

The Power of Self-Reflection

Everyone says it because it’s true: Reflection is an essential practice. Particularly within education and as educators, allocating time to reflect upon instruction, teaching techniques and how receptive students are during that instruction are of the greatest importance.

Self-reflection should be a regular (weekly) practice amongst all teachers, regardless of tenure. Little adjustments in instruction and technique will always be required over the course of an entire school year. And that’s normal.

Over and over, I hear even the most experienced of teachers say, “I start over every year.” A new year means new students. What worked for last year’s class won’t necessarily work for next year’s class, even if it works for you.

So, how did this year go?

There’s no better time to reflect upon the school year than now—when it’s all over. With this year’s classroom triumphs and (far fewer) setbacks still fresh in your mind, how do you think it went? Ask yourself these six (6) questions:

  1. Did I try anything new, and how did I fair?
  2. What didn’t work, and how will I approach it differently next year?
  3. What did I learn from my students?
  4. What were my biggest hurdles, and how did I overcome them?
  5. What’s the biggest lesson I learned this year?
  6. What changes and new approaches to teaching will I implement in the new year?

How should I approach self-reflection in the new school year?

In any which way you like! But here are some recommendations.

For starters, don’t wait until next year! There are months left before the new school year begins, which is valuable time. And if you’re teaching summer school, then you have an opportunity to start experimenting with and reflecting upon new teaching techniques immediately.

Start by recording yourself on video on a more regular basis. Use the video on your phone or tablet to capture the video, or even pair them with our Swivl Robot. This device is incredibly helpful in keeping you on-camera at all times, and you can automatically upload your videos to host and review on Swivl Cloud for free.

If you’re teaching in front of a classroom full of students this will likely feel a bit more natural. But, no matter. What’s most important is being able to review your patterns of speech, movement throughout the room, mannerisms and all the little things you’d never have noticed without the help of video.

You can start recording some of your go-to lessons today, the one’s you’re certain to use in some of next year’s classes, introducing them as part of a flipped or blended instruction component. (You can bet you’ll have more to learn form the videos once they’re in front of your students.) If you do have students in the room this summer, it will become even clearer to you what different approaches you might want to consider. You’ll expose, for instance:

  • When it’s necessary to slow down and allow students more time to grasp topics
  • When it’s beneficial to transition from sage on the stage to guide on the side
  • Where you can allocate more time in your lessons to address more difficult topics and answer student questions
  • Where holes in content and jumps in logic exist
  • Where you spend more of your time physically in the classroom whilst teaching

Conclusion

Even the best have room for improvement. The little time you spend here and there watching video of yourself teaching—assessing yourself—will open your eyes to teaching habits (good or bad) you never realized you had. You’ll see how students react to those habits, how their level of attention is altered, and how the changes you make to your behavior in the classroom changes their behavior. Throughout the process, you’ll also learn new techniques and ways of approaching instruction that are worth sharing with your peers.

When reflection and assessment become more than individual practices at your school, consider Swivl Cloud. The two-way, time-stamped commenting feature makes it incredibly easy for you and your peers to share constructive feedback, and will help your school establish a culture of continuous improvement.

Be sure to return to the Swivl blog next week for our next installment of the Summer Series.

 

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