Reviewing and reflecting tends to come naturally to most teachers. It’s a core part of the formal performance management and lesson observation processes in schools. Although policies and processes differ from school to school, the principle of the reviewer/observer asking the teacher to review and reflect on their own performance and classroom practice is well established.
But reviewing and reflecting doesn’t only have to be tied in with formal accountability processes. Reflecting on what you do in the classroom, why you do it and whether it works is one of the best ways there is to improve as a teacher.
Self-observation and self-evaluation
The process of self-observation and self-evaluation makes you explore your own classroom practice. Doing so helps you to think about changes in approach that can lead to improvements in your teaching.
This is something that can be done on daily and weekly basis. It’s best to record or jot down your thoughts at the time so that you don’t forget them. Similarly, it might be that you feel that a tweak to a lesson plan or scheme of work is called for, as a result of how a lesson went. If so, strike while the iron is hot and make the change there and then.
Review and reflect together
Reviewing and reflecting can be a personal and individual thing but sharing the experience can be highly beneficial too. Inviting colleagues into your lessons and any form of non-judgemental observation can be very revealing. Peers often see things that you don’t see and offer a different perspective. The insight that is gained can be extremely helpful.
Involving students can be very insightful too. It’s something that some teachers don’t feel comfortable with but asking for student feedback or getting your classes to complete surveys or questionnaires about your practice can be a real eye-opener. Ultimately, it gives you the most important insight there is. After all, the students are your ‘audience’ or your ‘customers’.
Video or audio recordings of lessons
Again, it’s something that some teachers won’t feel comfortable with but one of the best ways of gathering information about your classroom practice is to make a video or audio recording of a lesson. It’s likely that you do certain things while you are teaching that you are not be aware of. Similarly, there might be things going on around the class that you don’t normally notice.
Video and audio recordings are also a great way to spot any habits or patterns you have in your teaching. Similarly, if you want to focus on the amount of teacher talk there is in your lessons, the clarity of your instructions and explanations, or the type of questioning you use, there is no better way to capture the information than to record it.
Where does the summer holiday fit in to all of this?
The summer break is a natural time to review and reflect on your classroom practice. It’s the ideal moment to pause, take stock and consider what you’d like to change come September.
The simple fact is this. If you don’t review and reflect on what you do in the classroom, nothing will change.