The Place of Reflection in PD
According to my observations, there is a critical part of teacher development that is sometimes overlooked: the influence of one’s views. Learning—for both kids and adults—always necessitates a shift in cognition, but it does not always necessitate a shift in beliefs or attitudes.
When a teacher learns how to adopt a tactic such as guided reading in her classroom, it does not necessarily follow that she will put it into practice; her beliefs may lead her to teach differently. She is frequently correct: teachers are professionals who understand the importance of high-quality instruction, and they should be given the authority to make professional decisions about their classroom environments.
What happens, however, if a new classroom method is supported by research but is disregarded by teachers? How can leaders of professional development (PD) coach them through the process of adjusting their views to accept something unique that they are initially hesitant to embrace?
I’d like to concentrate on one particular response to this question: introspection.
THE VALUE OF REFLECTION IN PD
Providing opportunities for teachers to think about their practices in the context of supportive and solution-focused environments encourages them to take steps forward in achieving their professional goals, increases their sense of self-efficacy, promotes long-term growth and, as a result, can lead to improved student achievement.
A teacher must interact with a new technique by focusing her thoughts on its intricacies for an extended period, thoroughly dissecting it, questioning its validity, justifying or critiquing it utilizing formative and summative assessments to move toward a new belief. It is not enough for her to simply comprehend the new plan; she must also wrestle with it.
There are a few practical strategies to incorporate organised reflection into your campus’s professional development.
Instructors can witness other teachers applying and succeeding with unique ideas in their classrooms by participating in learning walks. An experienced colleague was conducting an engaging and thought-provoking lesson during a learning walk session that I lead, and a rookie teacher was observing and learning from him or her. Afterwards, the new teacher exhaled with satisfaction, saying, “So it is possible!”
My colleague and I discussed our observations and were able to pinpoint elements of the lesson that had contributed to its success as a whole. The new teacher was able to witness achievement firsthand through the eyes of a colleague, which encouraged her to explore new techniques in her classroom with renewed zeal and determination.
This demonstrates that when teachers observe their colleagues experimenting with new tactics, they are more likely to be inspired to experiment with new and innovative practices themselves.
When a teacher records herself to exhibit her work to peers, she reaps the benefits of their experience—they may be able to suggest techniques that she had not previously considered.
The video learning team should provide comments and solutions to any challenges that a peer has encountered after watching her video and discussing it with her. This meeting encourages both the receiver and the giver of feedback to pause and think about their actions. When teachers provide feedback, they frequently learn just as much as the teachers who receive it, as they reflect on their practices concerning the lesson that was observed.
In his book Focus on Teaching: Using Video for High-Impact Instruction, Jim Knight addresses the advantages of using video learning teams as a reflecting tool for teachers.
Thirdly, in the flipped classroom approach of instruction, professors give videos or text as homework to students to prepare them for diving into the subject matter more deeply during class time. In a similar vein, flipped professional development can increase the effectiveness of your face-to-face sessions by encouraging reflection before the encounter.
At my institution, I’ve implemented Google Classroom as a learning tool for the faculty members. This tool made it easy to share articles, videos, questionnaires, and assignments with teachers, allowing me to help them in reflecting frequently on their classroom practises while also priming them for participation in face-to-face professional development. Furthermore, because each person can work at a time that is most convenient for her or him, it is simple for teachers to discuss their reflections with one another on an asynchronous discussion board.
One of the most harmful things an administrator can do is to observe a classroom without providing input to the teachers. Delivering feedback after walkthroughs is something that most teachers seek, and not providing it causes teachers to become self-conscious about their abilities.
Consider requesting that teachers post a sign on their door that reads, “I want comments on .” That way, people have the autonomy to pick where they are growing and what they want to reflect on, and the administrator is encouraged to provide them helpful and relevant comments.
And, to encourage a growth mentality among your teachers while also assuaging their concerns about receiving frequent feedback, you might consider hanging the same notice on your office door.
5. Voxer: We no longer have to be constrained by the constraints of time and place. Individuals can speak with classmates from any location and learn collaboratively because of technology such as the Voxer app. We obtain new viewpoints from people outside of our school or district, which helps us to improve our reflection. Educators can organise themselves into groups and communicate with one another using voice conversations, text messages, and photos.
With the help of Voxer, I’ve been able to communicate on a personal level with educators throughout the country, and you can easily find me there @ AaronMarvelEDU.