Tools for Tutors: How to Become a More Reflective Teaching Practitioner

In one of our previous posts, we encouraged educators to get outside the teaching box and try out new activities. We briefly mentioned the importance of reflections, not just for students but also for those involved in teaching. Reflective practice is an important part of our professional lives; however, in order to be effective, it requires a consistent approach, time commitment, honesty and openness to change. Being busy is not an excuse though! You can easily schedule a 15-minute slot in your working week to sit down somewhere quiet, grab a pen and notebook and write your immediate thoughts about your teaching experiences, what you think you have done well, could do better and will change next time.

By developing a regular reflective practice, you will increase your self-knowledge and self-awareness so that you can become a better teacher, as well as advise others on their teaching methods. In this blog post, we have put together a few practical ideas to get you into the habit of constructing meaning from your own and others’ experiences:

  • Before you start: Have a notebook and pencil at the ready! Keep it simple.
  • What should I write? Begin by asking yourself what teaching means to you and jot down everything that comes to mind. This will help you discover what is really important to you and what values guide your teaching.
  • Define success. How do you know your students have engaged with your teaching? Do you pay attention to their voices? Do you ask for feedback? Have you ever considered involving your students in shaping the content of your tutorials?
  • Explore challenges: what has been difficult? Why? Keep asking yourself ‘why’ until you have explored all options. Record all the steps you may need to go through to solve this problem. What can you learn from your previous experiences?
  • If you prefer other activities, instead of grabbing a pen and notebook, write a blog, or an interview with yourself. Write a letter to yourself or create a mind map where you make a list of connections between your teaching and students’ experiences and learning.
  • Learn with and from others: while self-reflection is valuable, it is a solitary activity. So, how about asking your colleagues to observe your teaching and offer you feedback? By introducing regular peer observation into your teaching practice, you will gain input from your colleagues, who as ‘critical’ friends will help you increase your confidence and deepen your pedagogical knowledge. 
  • Organise peer group reflection sessions in which you and your colleagues share your thoughts about your teaching experiences To help you structure these discussions, you could use action learning sets. Hearing about other tutors’ challenges and helping them to find solutions may inspire you to improve your own practice.

We hope these tips will encourage you to take a step back and consider what kind of teacher you want to be and what really matters to you. By constantly questioning and reflecting on your teaching methods, not only will you become a better educator but you will also influence the learning experience of your students in a positive way.

Remember that we are always happy for you to use this blog as a platform to share your experiences with others. If you would like to write a guest post for us, just get in touch.

Before you go:

Read this:

Watch this:

Reflect: now that you have read this article, take a few minutes and jot down answers to the questions below. This will help you remember the most insightful points and put together an action plan that works for you:

  • What inspired you?
  • As a result, what do you want to do more of?
  • And what do you want to do less of?
  • What will you do next to achieve these goals?

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