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The Need for Reflection
Do you reflect as a teacher? When was the last time you conducted reflection?
Reflection should be an important component of teaching because of the many roles that teachers play: as a professional, as a role model, as a leader, and as an agent of society.
- As a professional, the teacher must continuously strive to improve the craft of teaching and this involves thorough reflection on the effectiveness of strategies and techniques. Through reflection, the teacher determines whether the teaching objectives have been met or not and whether certain activities were effective or not.
- As a role model, the teacher must reflect on his or her personal values and how these values relate to the society’s goals of education. Such a reflection usually leads to the formation of a teaching philosophy.
- As a leader, the teacher must inspire confidence as well as point the students to the right direction. Through reflection, the teacher determines the extent and appropriateness of his or her actions that can influence the students.
- And as an agent of society, the teacher may practice academic freedom but must still adhere to the policies established by the academic community and to the overall educational goals of the society. Sometimes, personal opinions contradict the society’s goals. Through reflection, the teacher can arrive at compromises.
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Dewey’s Characterization of Reflection
With the above roles, reflection becomes a crucial activity for teachers. But not every kind of reflection will suffice. According to Dewey, the reflection that is beneficial to pedagogy has three characteristics (Farrell, 13).
- Open-mindedness – This is characterized by the teacher’s willingness to consider multiple perspectives. For example, in evaluating a certain teaching technique that was recently implemented in the classroom, the teacher must be willing to consider the possibility that it was not the technique itself that led to higher scores in the assessment. Other factors, such as active student participation, may have a more influential role. Reflection becomes useless if the teacher refuses to see a different point of view.
- Responsibility – This is synonymous to accountability in which the teacher will always consider and evaluate the unavoidable consequences of certain actions. Reflection becomes extremely useful when consequences are taken seriously. And when the teacher tangibly exhibits a sense of responsibility, the students will most likely emulate such responsibility.
- Wholeheartedness – This is exhibited by the teacher’s absolute commitment to pursue every path toward learning and helping the students learn. Such paths can be known only when the teacher takes time to reflect on what has been taught, how the subject was taught, and how the teaching process could have been better.
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Farrell, Thomas Sylvester Charles. Reflective Practice in Action: 80 Reflection Breaks for Busy Teachers. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. 2004.