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How to successfully reflect on your teaching

Reflecting on your own practice is not always easy. When you’ve had a bad day, for example, the last thing you want to do is reflect and think ‘Where did I go wrong? What could I have done differently?’. However the difficult days are just as important (maybe more so) than the good to reflect on.

Here are 4 tips to help you reflect on your practice:

Talk to someone outside of teaching

This might seem strange (I mean what do they know about 11C on a Wednesday afternoon?), but actually, sometimes after a bad day, we need to unload the worst before we can get our head in the zone ready to properly reflect.

For me it was my parents. On drives home from work, I’d call them and talk (hands free obviously) about my day, venting out the worst bits, and sharing some of the good bits.

The result is a clear mind, and a clear mind is needed to successfully reflect.

Sticky note the best

After you’ve off-loaded the worst and chatted through the best, grab a sticky note and make a list of the successes. What did you do that learners responded well to? It might help to mentally walk through a lesson from starter to plenary and jot down even just that one learner that responded well to the starter, or highlight that everyone was engaged in the mid-point assessment you did. Underline the successes!

Sticky note the rest

I’m not going to call these ‘the worst’ but you understand why I say ‘the rest’. Note down the bits which were unsuccessful, the activity that wasn’t received how you’d imagined, the input that wasn’t wasn’t acted upon the way you’d have liked etc.

Let’s call these ‘areas to improve’.

Compare success and development

Now put both side by side and look at which is largest. If it’s the successes then well done! If it’s the areas to improve, then that’s fine too (we’re all continually learning in this profession).

Look to see whether any of your successes could impact the areas you want to improve.
E.g. The starter that was well received and the plenary that wasn’t – ask yourself, why that is the case? Did you introduce one with more energy than the other? Did you give both equal time? How were both pitched on the challenge ladder? Was one more accessible than the other?

Now attempt to re-frame one of the areas to improve and make that something you’ll try again tomorrow.

Be prepared to reflect again!

Happy teaching!

These ideas can help work towards standard 2:  ‘Promote good progress and outcomes by pupils’

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