Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Reflecting on Reflection

Reflection is deemed to be one of the most important things a teacher should be doing on a regular basis. On the eve of my fifth observation (of six) to go towards my NQT portfolio, I decided to reflect on how far I've come in the past year.

A PGCE plan and annotation.
Reflection was a huge part of my PGCE course and was something we all hated doing. Why did we have to write what our strengths of the week were and what we'd tackle next week? What was the point in annotating a lesson plan after the lesson had finished? However, I quickly learned that reflection was one of my key tools in becoming the best teacher I could be.

Even though it wasn't my favourite task, I made a point of sitting down after every lesson and annotating those plans and I actually grew to quite enjoy it. What went well? How could I further improve on that? What am I never attempting again with that class? I also made a point of making changes to the resources to make sure that for 'next time' they were better. Yet, 'next time' it was a completely different room full of students with completely different needs, experiences and knowledge. That's what I love about being a teacher. You may teach the same content but you'll never teach the same thing, the same way twice.

Before continuing, it's also worth noting that I've kept every single lesson plan I wrote and every piece of feedback I ever received whether that be a formal observation or a few notes on a scrappy piece of the paper. In the build up to this observation, I took my time to just sit and read the comments and reflections my mentors gave me and seeing how far I have come from day one really gives me something to be proud of. Looking back at the quality of my work in the initial solo lessons I taught, I just sit and think "how did I get away with that?". I'd be very concerned if I saw no difference though. The fact that the differences are so blinding shows that I've progressed just as we are so keen for our pupils to do. I will always be most proud of my favourite French teacher grading my lesson to be 'Outstanding'. Having being taught by her for A-Level and loving every lesson, the fact that she deemed me to be of that quality meant the world to me.

I'd like to think I've tackled those areas for development!
I find that it is all too easy to get caught up in what we should/could be doing to improve but surely it is just as important to give ourselves a deserved pat on the back for those great things that we do day in, day out. Those well instilled routines will be seen in our observations. Our lessons may be graded with a number but that's only a tiny snapshot of what we do. We panic because we care. We care about somebody else coming into our 'domain' to judge us on what we're doing. What we think is great, they may not. What we think is mundane, they may find mind-blowing. It's this subjectivity that makes teaching so exciting and fear inducing in equal measure.

I see and hear of people around me (whether it be in my department, in other schools or Twitter) that are doing amazing things for their pupils. The blogosphere and educators I have encountered since the creation of this blog has given me a real surge of energy and the confidence to see that what I'm doing is good.

By no means am I saying that I am the finished article and the fantastic/daunting thing is that I never will be. I'll continue to grow and develop year on year and this is a prospect I find incredibly exciting.


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