Six weeks ago, I took Larrivee’s survey. I had no idea of what reflective teaching was, which is reflected in the indicators I chose. Today, I feel that I am much better informed and appreciative of reflective teaching. On the first survey, level 2 received the most “frequently” tallies (9), level 1 received the most “sometimes” tallies, and level 4 received the most “infrequent” counts (9). The current survey is quite different. Level 3 received the most “frequently” tallies (13), level 4 received the most “sometimes” tallies (6), and level 2 received the most “infrequent” counts (6).
Comparing my current responses to Larrivee’s survey to the ones from seven weeks ago, I have found that many of my preconceptions and beliefs have changed. Most of the responses to questions to Pre-reflection questions (level 1) to the first survey were “sometimes,” followed by four responses of “infrequently.” Pre-reflection, to me, is the same as being introspective. I found that I had many preconceptions and biases that influenced the way that I looked at teaching. The three indicators that I chose reflected these biases and preconceptions. The first practice indicator was that I operated in a survival mode. This was bolstered by my responses which pointed to my view of the classroom as a sterile environment with preset rules and expectations and that it was my job to enforce them. The only assessment question that I marked as “frequently” in Pre-reflection was “is willing to take things for granted without questioning. Over the past few weeks, my views and beliefs have changed dramatically. I no longer see the education process as the teacher teaches and the student learns. Both agents are interactive and interdependent. Both the teacher and the student are responsible participants in the learning process. Almost all my responses from the first survey have shifted left to the “infrequent “column. Tannebaum et al. (2013) referenced Schon’s (1987) dual nature of reflection as interactive and retroactive. I am more aware of how dynamic the learning and teaching process is and how important knowing the students are. I am not a teacher, so I have been practicing pre-reflection with my co-workers. The work environment has some similarities to the classroom. People are constantly learning and seeking to know things, and I occasionally can help them. This means that I listen and observe much more often before responding. I have found that this process takes a lot of practice and deliberation.
Response to questions in the Surface Reflection section (level 2) changed drastically as well. Eight of the nine responses on the first survey shifted right, most to the “infrequently” column. Surface reflection is the hands-on part of teaching. I believe that this is the part of retroactive reflection Schon refers to. This process includes, I think, adjusting teaching strategies in real-time based on multiple points of feedback from the students. In the first survey I chose the level 2 indicator “supporting beliefs only with experience” to work on improving because I felt that I did not have adequate teacher training. The lack of teacher training, I have found was not a valid response. Supporting beliefs only with experience points to disregarding research and theory and relying solely on one’s personal experience. I feel that I have made significant progress in this area because I have come to understand the importance of research. Everyone has different experiences and using experience as the sole source of authority is problematic.
In the first survey, responses to level 3, Pedagogical reflection, indicators were almost evenly divided between frequently (6) and sometimes (7). All (13) but one was in the frequent column. The change comes from the realization that there is more to teaching than just giving out information. My experience in the past with instructing adult students was primarily teacher-centered. I provided the bulk of the information that the students received, and I assessed them on how well they memorized it. Part of my assignment two weeks ago was to watch the video The School that turned Chinese (Films Media Group, 2015) about an experiment to contrast two different teaching styles. The students in the Chinese school surpassed their fellow schoolmates, but I am convinced that it was a pyrrhic victory. The experiment measured intelligence based on test scores but did not look at student motivation. Although the students memorized more information, the students were enduring the experience rather than thriving from it. The schoolmaster wanted to discover which teaching style was the better style; however, he failed to realize a conflict in teaching philosophy. Getting better test scores using a system based on behaviorism is short-lived in a school whose curriculum is based on constructivism. Reflecting on my past teaching experience, I was doing the same thing. The institution I worked at stressed constructivist standards, but I was not teaching them. In short, I was not engaging the students to learn but rather to pass a series of tests.
Most of the responses in the indicators in Critical Reflection (level 4) shifted left on the current survey. As this course progressed, I have been exposed to many new ideas about how teaching styles fit into learning styles and how other things, like culture and intelligence, influence them. According to Fisher (2003), critical reflection emphasizes analyzing assumptions and perceptions to produce reflective skepticism. As mentioned earlier, I have begun to use reflective practices at work, and I have started to challenge my actions, motives, and perceptions more. While completing the first survey, I chose the indicator “observe self in the process of thinking” because I believe that I had not done this well concerning teaching. I think that I have made some improvement in this area, but I can do more. Becoming a Reflective Practitioner (Johns, 2017) advocates journaling as a dialogical tool for enabling reflection. I honestly did not consider journaling because I thought it was too time-consuming and bothersome. Over a few weeks, I found myself writing down notes, and last week I purchased a journal. The process of journaling is reflective. It allows me to look back on an activity in a more holistic way and understand better why certain things happened the way they did.
I have decided to keep the same three indicators that I chose the first week of this course and to continue to work on them. It is my hope to teach professionally at a community college when this course is complete, and I think that strengthening these three indicators will be invaluable. I will continue to journal and seek out feedback from other people who are more knowledgeable than I as a means of helping me improve these three indicators. But I won’t continue to blog. I do not like blogging.
Films Media Group. (2015). The school that turned Chinese: Episode 2. Films on Demand. https://fod.infobase.com/PortalPlaylists.aspx?wID=102745&xtid=115669.
Fisher, K. (2003). Demystifying Critical Reflection: Defining criteria for assessment. Higher Education Research and Development, 22(3), 313–325.
Johns, C. (2017). Becoming a Reflective Practitioner. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell.
Tannebaum, R. P., Hall, A. H., & Deaton, C. M. (2013). The Development of reflective practice in American education. American Educational History Journal, 40(2), 241–259.
Grade 9 High School Earth Sciences
Lesson: Freshwater Water Ecosystems
Length: 5 Class Periods
Goal: Students learn the characteristics of water ecosystems and animals that survive in these ecosystems.
After this lesson, students will be able to:
- Identify freshwater biodiversity.
- List 3 life zones found within a lake.
- Discuss the importance of freshwater ecosystems.
Multiple Intelligences Procedures:
- Visual-Spatial (V/S): Students will design charts of plants and animals found within life zones.
- Linguistic (L): Students will give individual and group presentations.
- Logical/Mathematical (L/M): Students will make measurements and analysis of data.
- Bodily-Kinesthetic (B/S): Students will participate in field trip to collect samples and take photos.
- Musical (M): Students will record animal and environmental sounds.
- Interpersonal (I): Students will work in small groups.
- Intrapersonal (IP): Students will reflect on field trip experience.
- Naturalistic (N): Students will conduct research on wetlands and document their findings.
Day 1 Introduction of the lesson objectives, goals methods of assessment.
- Students will watch a video on wetland ecosystems. (V/S) (L) (N)
- There will be a class discussion period. (L) (I)
- Students will be given a handout on freshwater wetland biodiversity.
- For homework, students are to complete the reading assignment and complete definition terms and the role wetlands in the water cycle in textbook. (L) (L/M)
- Students will get permission to participate in class trip.
Day 2 Individual research in the library.
- Students will use laptops and printed resources to:
- Compare and contrast the three main types of wetlands. (V/S) (L) (L/M)
- Create a diagram of freshwater life zones and their inhabitants. (V/S)
- Describe the role of wetlands in the water cycle. (L) (V/S)(N)
- Students write an essay describing their research findings. (L) (V/S) (L/M)
- For homework, students will complete work on research essay. (L) (V/S) (L/M)
Day 3 Class Trip for group assignment
- Class will visit a local lake near the school. (B/S) (N)
- Students will be divided into three groups to prepare conduct research for presentations. (I)
- One group will study organisms found on the waters edge. One group will study plants, birds and animals near the lake. The final group will study sounds of the lake and its surroundings.
- A member of each group will collect non-destructive samples from the area. (I) (V/S)(B/S)(N)
- Group 1 will obtain sample from the water’s edge.
- Group 2 will obtain photographs of plants, animals and insects.
- Group 3 will obtain recordings of birds and insects.
- For homework, students will journal their impressions and observations during the trip. (I/P)
Day 4 Presentation Preparations
- Groups will use class time to prepare presentations. The teacher will offer suggestions and assistance. (L) (V/S) (L/M) (I)
Day 5 Group Presentations
- Groups will present projects to the class. (L) (V/S) (I)
- After presentations, class will discuss and reflect on importance of freshwater ecosystems. (I) (I/P)
- Individual students will be assessed by grade on accuracy and completion of homework assignments.
- Groups will be assessed by
- Evidence of strong teamwork
- Quality and detail of research and presentation