Reflecting on your teaching:
The Critically Reflective Teacher
All of us have struggled from time to time with our teaching and our students’ learning. Sometimes it is easy to determine what isn’t working and why while other times we remain perplexed. Unfortunately, few of us apply the same amount of rigor and attention to our teaching as we do our research. This is understandable given that research is more highly valued in most institutions. However, the pendulum appears to be swinging the other way as the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is becoming more of prevalent and valued (Boyer).
At the center of any scholarship is reflection, the gathering and evaluation of evidence, collaboration, and documentation. If you are genuinely interested in becoming a better teaching (or learner), it is recommended that you engage in all four components of scholarship as it pertains to your teaching. Stephen Brookfield (1995) identifies a number of benefits associated with being a critically reflective teacher: (1) we realize the ideological basis of teaching, (2) we learn to minimize risks, (3) we see ourselves as being in continual formation, (4) our teaching becomes a connective activity, (5) we try to create classrooms that are more democratic, and (6) we discover our voice.
The sections that follow present a variety of formative assessment techniques that are designed to help you gather and evaluate data on how well you are teaching and how well your students are learning. These data can then be evaluated by both yourself and others to determine their relevancy and validity. Once evaluated, you can document your growth and development as an instructor for your own personal benefit, as well as for the benefit of others. Furthermore, this documentation can benefit you in the promotion and tenure review process, or when you interview for new career opportunities. Any one of these techniques will benefit you but collectively, they can provide you with a rich and varied set of data that can truly inform your professional development.
Next: Formative Assessments: Evidence-based development »