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Pedagogical Development Office

Teaching Tip: The Reflective Teacher

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Image courtesy of Wilma Brown, Vanier College PDO

Image courtesy of Wilma Brown, Vanier College PDO

Being a reflective teacher is an on-going practice that needs to be nourished and exercised. Like anything that is worth doing, even if we don’t do it all the time, doing it sometimes is better than never. At the end of the semester is a wonderful time to take stock and reflect on what has gone well this semester and what areas need improvement.

Ask our students

One obvious place to start, in our reflective process, is to ask our students how the course has gone. A few simple questions, distributed in class or online, can give us important information from our students’ perspective:

  • What did you like best about this course?
  • What did you like least about this course?
  • Do you have any suggestions for ways to improvement the course?
  • Other comments?

Notice that these questions do not ask for students’ opinions about our teaching; they ask questions about the course. We can be more specific and ask about our teaching, but, generally, the answers supplied to the above questions will give us clear directions.

Write it down

When a class goes well we are all certain that we will remember what we did, when and why, and will be ready to do it again the next time. When things go poorly, we are certain we will remember ‘never to do that again.’ Surprise! We all forget lots of things – both the good and the bad. Best practice: write it down. A simple note on the hard copy of our class notes or highlighted notes on the first slide of a PowerPoint are great ways to help us remember ‘for the next time.’

Journaling and Blogging

Keeping a journal or blogging, privately or publically, are great ways of helping us to describe our teaching situation and to reflect on the outcome. As many of us know, the act of writing helps us to articulate our thoughts and discover creative approaches in dealing with our reflections.

Be creative: photograph, draw, video, tape, share

Not interested in writing? Be creative in your reflective process: take photos of students’ work; draw a representation, perhaps a concept map, of your class; make a mini one-minute video of yourself reflecting on your teaching week; tape an audio file; share any of these with a partner, colleague, friend, or online.

Reflective Teaching Practices

The simple act of wanting to become better teachers and then documenting our thoughts, gathering student feedback, writing, being visually creative, and sharing with others, helps us to become and remain Reflective Teachers. By doing this, our teaching practice will continue to improve and our students will thank us.

Click here for more inspirations about becoming and remaining a Reflective Teacher.

For opportunities to discuss reflective teaching practices, please contact Wilma Brown. Other online Teaching Tips are available on the PDO web page.

Wilma Brown, Pedagogical Development Office (PDO)