I usually start a series of lectures with the following phrase, ‘My name is Mark, and I am a reflective practitioner’. This is done not just to introduce myself to the students, but to make the point that ‘reflection’ is a pervasive ingredient in my approach to the learning and teaching dynamics.
In practical terms, this means that I give careful consideration or thought to my teaching and students’ learning. Essentially, I adopt an analytical approach to teaching, which involves examining, framing, attempting to solve the dilemmas of the classroom and questioning my assumptions, values and beliefs about teaching. It also involves taking part in curriculum development, being involved in changes occurring in the university and, taking responsibility for my own continued professional development. It is this analytical approach to teaching and learning (facilitated by reflection) which results in my continued professional development i.e. the building of practical or work-related knowledge.
How do I build practical or work-related knowledge via reflective teaching?
As a reflective practitioner, I build practical or work-related knowledge via reflective teaching in a number of ways. I will highlight only three for your attention.
1. Oft times, employing reflection-on- classroom episodes lead me to consult research and apply solutions which address various students’ needs such as dealing with culturally diverse students and those for whom English is not their first language. The reflective process and subsequent actions arm me with new knowledge regarding teaching students with diverse needs which I have applied to future teaching episodes.
2. Secondly, carrying out reflection-in-action which involves critically thinking ‘in the thick of things’ results in my use of higher order thinking skill such as analysing teaching situations, difficulties students are experiencing thus being able to synthesize a solution. This process always reinforces my knowledge of various aspects of learning.
3. Thirdly, reflecting-on-collaborative exercises carried out with colleagues lead to the development and further reinforcement of knowledge about what is required to work with others to achieve specific goals. For example, there is the need to be dependable and committed to completing assigned tasks and the need to develop good interpersonal relational skills.
I am of the opinion that the building up of practical or work-related knowledge via reflective teaching will aid you in developing self-awareness and knowledge through personal experience. More importantly, the honing of these skills via reflection will aid you in your role as an autonomous professional taking greater responsibilities for your own professional development.