Module 1 has been a challenge for me. I thought I have been reflective in both my learning and teaching. As a student, I was good at taking notes and I study my notes many times in order for me to learn whatever lesson I was into. Usually, I gave myself time and space and be away from distractions for me to focus on my studies. I would internalize on the things that I have learned, trying to understand difficult concepts, and finally integrating entire lesson. With regards to my teaching experience, reflective teaching practice for me was about being aware of different strategies and putting them on record (journal). This will then serve as basis in evaluating what practices need improvement or what needs to change. However, this module made me realize that I had a myopic view of what critically reflective teacher is. Allow me then to communicate what I learned using the reflective cycle by Gibbs.
Description (What happened?)
This module taught me about reflective practise, how it is done, and how it can help educators improve their teaching practices. Also, I learned how to differentiate reflection from critical reflection. What I realized was that my view of reflection was so narrow that I have to think real hard and try to understand all the concepts presented in the first module. Honestly, I am still trying to purposely apply all the learning that I have (most especially the use of four lenses namely autobiographies as learner/teacher, students, colleagues, and theoretical literatures), hence this explain my attempts at writing this journal following Gibb’s reflective cycle. I still have difficulty understanding concepts such as those categories of assumptions. To hunt for assumptions was already a struggle; much more pressing was to classify them into categories such as paradigmatic, prescriptive, and causal assumptions.
Feelings (What were you thinking and feeling?)
I was thinking that critical reflection was done alone but was surprised to learn that it should involve other people’s perspective as well as from theoretical literature. I thought the process of reflection was that simple only to be overwhelmed by the depth and processes one needs to undergo (Gibb’s cycle).I felt sad that I was not reflective during my college days. I regret not learning this earlier. But now, I am excited to learn about critical reflection to improve my learning and teaching.
Evaluation (What was good and bad about the experience?)
Looking back, my struggles (focus, discipline, time management) and failures (yes I have failing grades) will now serve as lessons learned. It may be seen as bad experience but I cannot do anything now, except to strive harder and not repeat the same mistakes or bad habits. What is good about it is that I am now committed to doing the right way, which is to be critically reflective.
Analysis (What sense can you make of the situation?)
If I am to hunt for assumptions regarding my learning, I would say that all my actions came from what I think I know. My assumptions were based on what I experienced and what I observed from others. Say for example, if I spent more time in studying a subject, I will get high grades. To me, more time spent means more knowledge and understanding gained. As it turned out, more time does necessarily mean ‘productive’ study. Even if you study for short time, for as long as your mind is receptive then study time is effective. The key here is to study reflectively. Another assumption was that reflection is done alone, on a solitary place, where one can spend time thinking about an event that took place. To me, reflection is a way to rewind happenings and to finally let go of whatever feelings you are harbouring. Be it frustrations, regret, or positive vibes (just to feel good). But then again, critical reflection involves other’s input like that of peers, teachers/students, and literatures. It was never an ‘alone’ activity, nor does it stop when you feel good or to let go of bad feelings. Instead, critical reflection likewise covers your plan of action. Furthermore, it is not a one way process but a cycle. Last example I can think of was the assumption that an excellent student (with honours) makes an excellent teacher. Of course I learned this earlier in my university days that it was not so. Teaching is more than the possession of knowledge or critical thinking. Teaching involves not just the transmission of whatever knowledge, skills, or behaviour to students, but more of finding ways how to facilitate learning, providing for nurturing environment that maximizes both learning and teaching.
Conclusion (What else could you have done?)
I therefore conclude that reflective teaching practice is the process of deliberate and systematic application of critical reflection. Teacher benefit from critical reflection as they will learn how to become lifelong learners, understand how they learn so they can articulate their learning to others, and to keep records of development to further hone their teaching skills/instruction.
Action Plan (If it arose again, what would you do?)
Having known the importance of critical reflection, I commit to become a critically reflective teacher. From now on, I will keep record of learning experiences or critical instances where I can reflect and develop a habit of writing critical reflection using the four lenses. Lastly, I commit to learning continuously as this will improve my pedagogic actions.
After reading the resources of this module, did your definition of reflection and your opinions of reflective teaching practice change? Why or why not? How?
After reading the resources in module 1, my definition of reflection and my opinion of reflective teaching practice definitely changed for the better. What I used to view as personal or alone time thinking (reflection) was much more than what I thought it was. Now, I view reflection from a wider perspective using the four different lenses. Moreover, I am now committed to applying reflective teaching in my future endeavours.
Finally, to echo the lesson objectives of this module, a critical reflection skill is essential for transformative teaching, lifelong learning and continuing professional development. Since educators are at the forefront of learning, they should be empowered to conduct objective and principled self-evaluation, to engage in collaborative reflection, be better educators and decision makers, and to solve issues and improve their practices.
University of Kent. What is reflective learning? https://www.kent.ac.uk/learning/PDP-and-employability/pdp/reflective.html
University of Kent. Becoming a critically reflective teacher. https://www.kent.ac.uk/teaching/documents/qualifications/criticallyreflectiveteacher.pdf