IntroductionReflectiveteaching is a process where teachers consider and analysis different aspects oftheir teaching practice. According to Jack C. Richards, reflection ‘refers toan activity or process in which an experience is recalled considered, and evaluated.'(2000, p. 21) Bartlet states that tobecome a reflective teacher, a teacher must go ‘beyond a primary concern withinstructional techniques and “how to” questions and asking “what” and “why”questions that regard instructions and managerial techniques not as ends inthemselves, but as part of broader educational purposes.’ Reflection plays animportant role in being a teacher. It is essential that teachers reflect on thedifferent areas of their teaching such as what they do in the classroom, whythey do what they do, asking themselves did it work and asking themselves howcould their practice be improved to achieve being learning outcomes, to improveas teachers as well as improving the learning for their students. Throughreflection, teachers have a methodical and organised way of ‘collecting,recording and analysing their thoughts and observations, as well as those oftheir students, and then going on to making changes.
‘ (Tice, 2004) There are many reason why teachershould reflect on their teaching. One of the main reasons is that teaching isall about life-long learning and improvement. As the world changes so doeseducation. Therefore, teachers must keep up to date with the latest methods andapproaches.
Also, if teachers do not analysis and assess on their teaching,they cannot improve it. Brookfield(1995) argues that another reason teachers need to reflect on their teaching isbecause it gives them an awareness about their students as well as insight intotheir needs and abilities. Each student is different as a result each classroomis different.
Teachers must see their practice through the eyes of theirstudents. Brookfield states that: ‘Of all the pedagogic tasks teachers face,getting inside students’ heads is one of the trickiest. It’s also one of themost crucial.’ (1995, p.
92) Over the last two years of theProfessional Masters in Education, active learning has been promoted overpassive learning. Teachers must model these new concepts. It is believed thatif teachers use the reflective approach, it will make it easier to usereflection with our students. By students scrutinising and assessing their ownwork, this will help them improve their learning as well as allow them to becomemore independent learners. These are key skills in active learning. One of the most popular ways to reflect onteaching practice is writing a reflective journal. Over a six week period, Itaught my first year students about the Romans.
During this time, I wrote ajournal detailing my observations and evaluating my lessons. In thisassignment, I will outline my reflections ????????Toput my reflections into context, I have worked in two very different schools.Last year I worked in a DEIS school and this year I work in a voluntarysecondary school. Both school are in anaffluent area of Dublin. Last year, I taught all boys while this year I amteaching all girls. The boys had a more laid back approach to learning whilethe girls are very motivated and eager to learn. Noessel(2003) states that students’ needs are represented by the difference between whatthe learner wants to achieve from the learning experience and their currentstate of knowledge, skill, and enthusiasm.
There are four types of learnerneed. They are Cognitive, Affective, Psychomotor and Social. It is important toidentify learners’ needs because it helps the teachers with learner placement,developing materials and teaching methods. Assessingthe needs of students is not something I am very good at. In the school thisyear, there is a great resource teacher who is well-organised. There is afolder on the computer with a list of all the students’ needs and theirdifficulties. This has been very useful because it has helped me whendifferentiating my lessons.
Petty has defined differentiation as ‘the processby which differences between learners are accommodated so that all students ina group have the best possible chance of learning.’ In my first year group,there is one student with a learning difficulty. One way that I differentiate forher, in the classroom, is by giving her easier resources to the rest of theclass. For example, I used a secondary source which had been rewritten intosimpler language for her. It contained the same information but at the levelshe could comprehend. As there is assigned seats, I was able to put herdifferentiated worksheet in the pile and hand it out with the rest of thegroups.
Also, students were working individually so no other students saw thatshe had a different sheet. It worked well as she answered all the questions anddid not copy of other students as she had done previously. Anotherway that I differentiate is by appealing to different learning styles. Gardner(1983) argued that everyone has multiple intelligences. He believed that different parts of the braincontained different intelligences which worked either independently or intandem. For him, there were 9 intelligences such as verbal-linguistic,visual-spatial, bodily-kinaesthetic as well as interpersonal and intrapersonalintelligences. WhenI am planning my lessons, I tried to include as many of these intelligences aspossible. For example, when we were studying the Romans, I used a lot ofvisuals such as paintings, mosaics, drawing of the houses, videos, and cartoonpictures.
For example, I used mosaics with different pictures offruits and animals to talk about the food that Romans ate. Also, I usedifferent colours when writing on the whiteboard. In my power-point presentations,I highlight the keywords with different colours.
I get students to makemind-maps on topic individually and working in groups combining all theirideas. This appeals to visuals learners. Whenassessing their learning, I use thumbs up, thumbs down or I sometimes get themto stand up, sit down. I also do roleplays, projects and make models. This isfor bodily-kinaesthetic learner. I also plan for verbal linguistic learners byplanning group discussions, giving worksheets, playing word games and asking questions.
I try to do pair-work and group work with the students. This appeals tointerpersonal learners. Students also work individually.
I also try to connectthe topics to the students’ personal lives where possible and also assess theirprior knowledge of a topic. This appeals to the intrapersonal learners. Forexample, when we were discussing the types of Roman houses, I used a cartoonpicture of the interior of a Roman insula with a street scene as well. It was agood picture as it had a lot going all in it. I had evaluated it to make sureit covered all points I wanted to cover. I asked students to write downeverything they saw after giving them a minute to do so individually.
Afterthis, I asked students to compare what they had written down in pairs. I drew amind-map on the whiteboard with their observations. I elicited any informationwhich the students did not pick up on.
For homework, I asked the students tomake a model of an insula made of lollipop sticks and cardboard. By doing this,I used a number of strategies that appealed to different learning intelligencessuch as visual, verbal-linguistic, intrapersonal, interpersonal and bodily-kinaesthetic.The students were engaged throughout as they responded well to questions andthey asked questions. When I assessed their learning, a good amount of learningwas achieved. ? consideringstrategies which will support their learningThereare many different strategies which can be used to support a students’learning. Some of the strategies I have used are flashcards, exit slips, mind-mapping,and graphic organisers Flashcards can be a very usefulstrategy to help students of history.
They are a good method to consolidate andreinforce your knowledge. I ask my students to make flashcards as they arelearning the topic. They write down the key terms and a short explanation onthe other side. Hermann Ebbinghaus had a theory called ‘forgetting curve’ inwhich he stated that the most memory is within the two hours of memorising theinformation.
(1885, p. For excellentrecall, one must review the information within the first two hours, after thisone must review the information after a day, then week later, a month later andfinally three to six months later (Ebbinghaus as cited in O’Brien). I sharedthis technique with my students who memorise a lot of the information.
Unlikethe boys I taught last year who put all the information into their own words. Exit slips are a good method forstudents to reflect on what they have learnt. At the end of class, I give studentsprompts such as write down one thing you have learnt, one thing you founddifficult, one thing that you easy, and one thing you would like to know moreabout. However, I do not always use this technique effectively as I do notalways leave enough time for students to fully reflect. Because of this,students do not give detailed answers and also they say that they do not findanything difficult. This might be true but with more with thought maybe theycould find something.
Also, some of the students call out or chat when doingthis and it is not effective. It worked better towards the end of the year becauseI gave them more time to reflect and the boys did not talk during it. Mind-mapping is good strategy for assessinglearning. They are a good way to visually convey ideas and see what informationthey have gained. There are a number of benefits to using mind-mapping in theclassroom such as it they can help with to better recall information, and withhigh order processing. Two challenges were that the students had little experiencewith using mind-maps and they felt uncomfortable with the non-linear way thatthe information was structured. I found these two challenges with my secondyear class.
Having this experience, I introduced the idea of mind-mapping wellconveying the benefits. I was surprised how well the class took on the idea andhow enthusiastic they were to start. Iwanted to use a mind-map to assess their knowledge after learning about theRomans. Firstly, I asked my students to create a mind-map individually with afew prompts. Then, I put my students into groups of three to compare theirmind-maps. Then, I asked students to create a big mind-map which encompassed theirideas on big A3 size paper. I asked the art teacher for art supplies such as scissors,markers, colouring pencils, glue and white paper. The students were very enthusiastic.
After we were finished the class they asked if they could continue making themin the next class. It also helped students develop their spatial awareness asthey had to decide how they would organise the information. I had a rubricwhich I worked off to assess their mind-maps. By doing individual mind-maps, Icould take them up and assess the students individually which gave me a bettergauge of the information they absorbed.
Graphic organisers are useful forlearning as it gives students ‘a scaffold the development of ideas andconstruction of knowledge’ (PDST, 2008) It can be used as a form of formativeassessment. For example, I used the placemat