Friday, March 7, 2014

Mirror, Mirror: Reflecting on Our Practice

The past three weeks have been so much fun.

I had the opportunity to teach our AP English students.  From the moment it was mentioned, until just a few minutes ago, I have buried myself in this course. 

Selecting focus standards.  Sketching a unit plan.  Researching topics for discussion and for writing.  Re-reading the novel.  Developing the unit plan more fully.  Writing lessons. Creating assignments and rubrics.  Organizing materials.  Grading papers.  Providing feedback.  Meeting individually with struggling writers.  Evaluating my work and considering changes I would make next time.  Reading the students’ feedback on my work after I finished grading their final submissions and recording them in the grade book.  Reconsidering my work and the changes I would make next time.

So much work, but so well worth it.  What a group of students!  I couldn’t be more proud than I am at this moment.  Their final papers rocked.  Hurray!

Teaching is so invigorating.  Perhaps even more so when it is taken in small doses – like three weeks at the time!  My head is swirling with ideas to take what I’ve learned from this experience and inject it into other areas of our program. 

Although the teaching is done, the papers are graded, and the grade book is posted, the work is not finished.

Reflecting on my teaching is a necessary part of my work. I can’t get better at my craft without giving serious thought to what I have done and to the results of my efforts.  Not only am I looking at the content of the course – the assignments, the discussions, the materials, the activities --, but also I am looking at how I handled questions, student concerns, late papers, one-on-one assistance.  My attitude, my actions, my words. 

I also need feedback from students to know what worked for them and what didn’t.  They see things in the classroom from a different vantage point.  It’s hard to ask students for honest feedback; they don’t all like us or like the way we do things.

A reflective practitioner engages in self-analysis and welcomes feedback from others. 

And uses the findings to improve the next learning encounter.

I am a reflective practitioner.  Will you become one, too?

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