August 30, 2016

Remember to Remember: Reflecting to Change

Imagine you are preparing to teach students a new skill. You do your due diligence by researching and planning a stellar lesson. You have a clear focus and engaging activities. You rehearse the lesson format and feel confident. You begin the lesson, but as time goes on students begin to lose interest and goof off. The lesson ends and students do not grasp the concepts. You are left feeling frustrated and confused. Sound familiar? 

This scenario is common across classrooms everywhere. It doesn’t matter if you are a novice teacher or a veteran, it is  incredibly difficult when instructional plans go awry. As hard as it may feel, this is precisely the time when you have to remember to remember. Put differently, reflect on the instructional plan and delivery. Intentional reflection can be transformative if done on a regular basis. Consider the following during reflection exercises, especially when lessons are not well received.

Focus on the positive. It does not matter how much experience you have. There will be many times when things go wrong. Teaching is a courageous undertaking that requires bravery. Try not to be negative with yourself or your students. Avoid negative thoughts by embracing successful moments during a lesson. Find at least one aspect of the lesson that was successful. Did you plan a great introduction? Were students engaged during a particular part of the lesson?

Don’t take it personally. It is easy to take misbehavior personally, but this is usually a symptom of something deeper. Rather than focus on student behavior, reflect on aspects of the lesson that caused disengagement.  Also, think about ways to address similar situations in the future lessons. Was the activity explained properly? Was the amount of content too overwhelming? Really pinpoint where the breakdown happened, so that you can identify effective solutions.

Ask for help. Now that you have a positive outlook and you've pinpointed areas needing improvement, ask for help. Look for resources. Brainstorm with a colleague. Bounce ideas off of mentors. Seeking help from others yields a variety of strategies to improve engagement during lessons.

How will you practice intentional reflection?


A very special thanks goes to
guest blogger, Kandice Cole. 
Kandice is a writer, teacher, and education consultant. 
She resides in Chicago with her husband and infant daughter.