Taken from: https://medium.com/@diahwulanhudaya/reflective-teaching-79e2d9c3dd20 by Dian Wulan Hudaya
Sometimes it is common to see that what teachers expect in their classroom is different with the reality. In reality, teachers may face many issues in the teaching and learning process. For instance, a teacher may plan a lesson very well, but the practice is very different and even the result is not what is expected, or a teaching method advised by the curriculum doesn’t run well with the situation in the classroom. Then, a teacher may think and try to find what might be wrong and find the solution about the problem he/ she face in the classroom by observing his/ her classroom, asking his/ her colleagues, or getting students’ feedback directly. We can say here that the teacher is being reflective, but is it just enough to only think what the problem is and find the solution without keeping a record on what he/ she is doing? Keeping a record on what teachers do might help a teacher to know the strength and weaknesses of their teaching process. Thus, it is important that to be a reflective teacher, a teacher should be able to keep a record on what they have done in the classroom.
Correspondingly, there are six core components of teacher knowledge based on Richards (2002).
- Practical knowledge: teacher’s knowledge on classroom techniques and strategies.
- Content knowledge: teacher’s understanding of the subject he/ she teaches.
- Contextual knowledge: teachers’ familiarity with the school context, norms, and knowledge of the learners’ culture and relevant information.
- Pedagogical knowledge: teacher’s ability to restructure, plan, adapt, and improvise content knowledge.
- Personal knowledge: teacher’s personal beliefs and principles and his/ her individual approach on teaching.
- Reflective knowledge: teacher’s capability to reflect on and assess his/ her own practice in teaching.
Hence, it is clear that to be a good and professional teacher, one of the qualifications is that a teacher should be able to reflect on his/ her own teaching practice. Richards also suggests that teachers now need to be given opportunities to engage in self-reflection and evaluation. Nevertheless, ESL/ EFL professionals can react, examine and evaluate their teaching to make decisions on needed changes to improve attitudes, beliefs, and teaching practices through reflection (Pacheco, 2005). In order to do this, she mentioned that teachers are forced to look back into their own teaching practices, beliefs, attitudes, goals, as well as those beliefs and attitudes of their students, of their colleagues, and of the teaching community itself. Consequently, reflective practice requires a commitment, a commitment towards change, towards understanding, and most importantly, a commitment towards continuous self-development. Furthermore, teachers have to develop long-term career goals and develop their roles and responsibilities over time if they are to continue to find teaching rewarding (Richards, 2002). He also mentions that many things can be done to design a context for good teaching, but it is teacher themselves who initially determine the success of a program.
2. What is Reflective Teaching?
Bailey (2012) defines reflective pedagogy as the idea that professionals carefully evaluate their own work, seeking to understand their motives and rationales as well as their practice, and then try to improve upon their work. She also states that reflective teaching procedures can take many forms, including saving and making notations on our lesson plans, videotaping or audiotaping our lessons, keeping a teaching journal, writing a blog about our teaching and so on. It is important for professional teachers to try to evaluate how successful an activity in terms of student engagement and learning outcomes (Harmer, 2007b). The teacher who is critical in their thinking about what happens in classroom lessons and about alternative means of achieving goals or aims is a reflective teacher (Soisangwarn & Wongwanich, 2014).
Also, Farrel (2016) mentions that the use of reflective practice in teacher professional development is based on the belief that teachers can improve their own teaching by consciously and systematically reflecting on their teaching experiences. As we know that what teachers think they do, and what they actually do is not always the same as perceptions and reality are not always the same. He adds that teachers have many means of collecting such evidence about their practice such as surveys, questionnaires, classroom observations with or without peers discussion with other teachers groups face to face and/ or using technology (e.g. blogs, forums, or chats) so that they can better inform themselves about their and other practices.
Furthermore, Suherdi (2013) mentions that one of some ways to develop pedagogical competence to be a professional teacher is by having reflective skill. He defines reflective skill as teacher’s skill to diagnose the strengths and weaknesses of teaching process he/ she had conducted. Soisangwarn and Wongwanich (2014) also mentioned that a teacher who regularly considers their own practices is more likely to develop and improve their professional learning.
3. Advantages and Disadvantages of Reflective Teaching
When we talk about an issue, there will always be positive and negative side, pro and cons, advantages and disadvantages. Bailey (2012) suggests some advantages and disadvantages of practicing reflective teaching. The advantages of practicing reflective teaching are: (1) make teachers more aware what they actually do, (2) promote collegial sharing if the data collected in professional contexts involving other teachers, like team-teaching, (3) from the insight teachers get through reflection, they can actually improve their teaching, (4) getting insight and improving teachers’ practice may help experienced teachers overcome burnout, (5) affirm teachers’ current practice (or part of it), and (6) help teachers make connection between theory and practice. In addition, if teachers share their reflections, they can attain different perspectives about their works (Farrel, 2016). Furthermore, reflective practices seek to help novice teachers become more aware of decision-making processes to help them determine the effect their decision have in the context in which they are implemented (Pacheco, 2005). Also, by having reflective habit, a teacher will recognize all of his/ her parts of teaching practice he/she had done (Suherdi, 2013).
Additionally, Richards (2002) mentions the usefulness of reviewing teachers’ performance regularly from another point of view: to reward teachers for good performance, to help identity needs for further training, to reinforce the need for continuous staff development, to help improve teaching, to provide basis for contract renewal and promotion, and to demonstrate an interest in teachers’ performance and development. Therefore, being a reflective teacher can give many advantages both for the teacher and the students.
Meanwhile, there are also disadvantages of practicing reflective teaching according to Bailey (2012). First, it is time consuming. Teachers who have heavy workload will not find this activity is interesting since it takes more time that what teachers usually spend. For instance, in making teacher’s journal, a teacher should spend more time in their work hour to make it as it has to be done regularly; and in doing peer observation, teachers should find the appropriate time for them. Once teachers get into a teaching routine, it is very difficult to make time to have a classroom observation and see others teachers’ (Brown, 2001) although Richards (2002) mentions that “time should be allocated for regular review of the program, problem solving, and critical reflection”. Second, teachers can discover uncomfortable information about their own work when they practice reflective teaching. Sometimes, when teachers find the weaknesses of their teaching and learning activities, it can be hard for them to accept it and change their learning style since it has been being their habits.
Nevertheless, the process of reflection is not easy. Yet, because it offers more advantages than disadvantages, teachers education program are becoming more devoted to developing reflective practices in their student teacher (Pacheco, 2005).
4. Process and Tools of Reflective Teaching
Bartlett (1990) in Richards & Ho (1998) describes five phases in the process of reflective teaching and sees each phase as focusing on the following questions.
a. Mapping. What do I do as a teacher?
b. Informing. What is the meaning of my teaching? What did I intend?
c. Contesting. How did I become to be this way? How was it possible for my present view of teaching to have emerged?
d. Appraisal. How might I teach differently?
e. Acting. What and how shall I now teach?
Moreover, some reflection is simply a matter of thinking about what is happening in our lessons as we take the metro home from work, but there are a number of more organized ways of doing this, like keeping journals and recording ourselves (Harmer, 2007a). In Fatemipour (2013), it was found that there are some reflective tools which were used by the teachers. The first one is teacher diary, and then followed by peer observation, students’ feedback, and audio recording.
a. Teacher diary. In keeping teacher diary, a teacher should make entries regularly, preferably daily if possible, and immediately after class (Pacheco, 2005). Here is an example of what teachers might write in the diary.
b. Peer observation. Teachers can take turns observing each other’s classes as a basic for critical reflection and discussion about teaching approaches (Richards, 2002). He says that regular observation of teachers by other teachers or supervisors can provide positive feedback on teaching as well as help identify areas that might need attention, it also can be used to enable teachers to share approaches and teaching strategies, and a teacher can collect information the colleague is interested in obtaining. Pacheco (2005) suggests that in peer observation, teacher can collect information but not to evaluate it since the purpose of the observation is to learn from one another. Teacher diary and peer observation are the tools which are strongly recommended to be used for reflection. The video below gives more explanation about observation.
c. Getting students’ feedback. An important point is that students’ feedback can provide teachers with unique data and cannot be obtained by the other three tools because students always have many things to say and feel about the teaching and learning process, whether they find some difficulties or not, like the lesson or not, find the lesson motivating or not, etc. (Fatemipour, 2013).
d. Audio recording. A teacher can record what happened in his/ her classroom using a recording. He/she can review the recording to see what it tells them about their teaching (Richards, 2002). However, besides audio recording, teachers nowadays may also use video recording since it is easy to use in the classroom and the school may provide the equipment like video recording and the tripod. Thus, the teacher can use it without any difficulties or even he/she doesn’t have to ask their colleagues to do the recording because it can be set easily. Here is an example of the video recording of classroom activities.
Additionally, Soisangwarn and Wongwanich (2014) mentioned that practicing to become a reflective teacher may be achieved via a variety of models but peer coaching tends to be used in many fields. They defines peer coaching as a process that involves colleagues collaborating sharing ideas, thoughts, and observations. They found that self-reflective practice and reflective peer coaching practice can help teachers to better understand themselves and their students in order to make learning more meaningful.
5. Related Research
For decades, there are some researches related to reflective teaching. One of them is a research by Akbari et al. (2010) that developed English language teaching reflection inventory which consists 42 items at the beginning and the reduced to 29 items.
Another research was by Xu et al. (2015) about the newly developed questionnaire in their study that was developed from Akbari et al.’s (2010) tentative model of English language teaching reflection inventory. They found that the teachers’ reflection was at the medium level.
A research by Bababei & Abednia (2016) found that there was a positive relationship between some components of teachers’ self-efficacy and reflective teaching, especially metacognitive reflection suggests incorporating a focus on (metacognitive) reflection into second language teacher education and professional development helps improve teachers’ pedagogical competencies and efficacy beliefs. In addition, Robichaux & Guarino (2012) found that by getting into reflective habit, the pre-service teachers are developing habits of professional growth and improvement. Meanwhile, Farrel’s (2016) study indicated that the novice teacher reflection group they were member of helped the teachers better understand the many shocks they experienced so they could get through the first semester as ESL teachers.
From the researches mentioned before, it can be said that teachers’ reflection can be measured and they have positive effect on teachers teaching practice both for in-service and pre-service teachers.
6. Concluding Remark
Reflective teaching is one of the steps to develop teachers’ professionalism. Therefore, it is necessary for teachers to be reflective on their teaching practice. As we know that reflective teaching has more advantages than the disadvantages. Thus, it is better if teachers consider more about the advantages rather than the disadvantages. There are some tools to be used by the teachers in reflecting their teaching practice, like teacher’s journal, peer observation, students’ feedback, and audio and/ or video recording. Actually, it doesn’t matter what tools are used by the teacher in reflecting their teaching practice since they have strength and weaknesses. It will be better if a teacher is able to combine the use of those tools to make his/ her teaching practice more effective. In addition, there are some research about reflective teaching which measure teachers’ reflective level and also the use of the reflective teaching that found the positive effect of being reflective teacher. However, there has not been a research which correlates teachers’ reflective skill with teachers’ success in doing their teaching practice in their classroom. Hence, the present study is going to investigate the correlation between teachers’ reflective skills and their success in teaching practice in their classroom.
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