14. Reflective Teaching

The life of a teacher is an ongoing process of lifelong learning. Like mentioned in module ‘13. Peer Observations’, teachers are always learning to improve their teaching by learning from each other to improve and share their learning strategies. There is always new experiences that can arise in the school environment or influenced from the outside world like from mass media, Therefore, as a good teacher it is important to keep learning to improve your ongoing teaching professional development.

The method teachers use to improve their teaching is called ‘Reflective teaching practice”. This is where in the classroom the teacher thinks about what is happening in their classroom by:

  1. Teaching
  2. Learner response

By reflecting on both the teaching and the learner response, the teacher can improve on what needs to be done so that lesson goals are met.  Here the teacher looks for reasons why teaching strategies did not work from the learner’s reaction. Based on the teacher’s teaching experience, the teacher can expect a learner outcome and if not as expected, how can class lessons improve to give better learning opportunities to the learners.

Each classroom has its own unique set of students and teacher. We can find throughout each classroom around the world a own set of unique problems teachers face with their students and share.

Case 1: A teacher may have students so used to learning a particular way that learning new language skills will require new techniques that will be difficult for the students to comprehend. So the teacher will have to create a new teaching technique so that the technique would be relaxing, fun, enjoyable and less serious yet meaningful for the student. When the student feels able to do the lesson, the student will be enticed to learn more. Teachers must find a balance between teaching a lesson and making it comprehensible and enjoyable for the student to learn more.

Case 2: In younger learners, fun and interactive stimulation of the senses is the best approach in learning language lessons. For lower-english learners association between visual with words is a way to learn language if they do not speak or interact well. But for most students, classwide songs and chants are effective language learning tools as they use the most senses in listening, reading/seeing, speaking. The lesson ‘Head and shoulders, knees and toes’ is a great example of interactive fun learning.

Case 3. In older students or in larger classrooms, group work can provide a good model of language learning as students in groups will be helping other students communicate using multiple language skills in reading, speaking, writing and listening. It might not be a good method if you are looking to test individual performance though.

Case 4: In younger learners, exploring the natural world would be the best way to learn. Younger learners are still exploring the world and need to hone their senses. So taking younger learners outside to go on field trip to explore the natural environment will hopefully intrigue them to learn the outside world through plants and animals language learning models.

Case 5: Some classes are not dedicated to language learning. So with limited materials and time, the language teacher must make best use of what they have to show how to overcome the barrier in learning a foreign language of English if not surrounded by it. The teacher must convey the love of language of English and provide the students the care and need to learn the language as if they are their children.

Case 6: In older student classes where resource are high, having exchange students from abroad brought into the classroom will intrigue students to try to communicate in English with said student; exchange of culture and beliefs. If the class is in a tourist destination country or developing country, the prospects of English-related jobs would entice students to learn the language.

Case 7: Students coming from a culture where the English language is more difficult to learn than the mother tongue would be more reluctant to learn English. Hopefully, teachers make the student overcome the fear of learning the language and be brave enough to learn more while the teacher tries to make lessons easier, more enjoyable and meaningful.

At a teacher’s core, teachers enjoy teaching. And as a good teacher, they have the following characteristics:

  • Recognize and care for their students however they are in their skill level
  • Enthusiastic into helping their students
  • Curious and interesting themselves into incorporating new ideas to improve classroom learning
  • Self-analyze themselves to improve their own skills
  • Solve problems in the classroom by taking responsibility of the class
  • Open-minded for change even if it goes against their beliefs; maybe more of a learning curve or implementing new strategy
  • High-energy to teach and implement change
  • Improve program development with colleagues and professional development goals