6 challenges of teacher reflection & how to overcome them
There is one quality above all others that makes a good teacher - the ability to reflect on what, why and how they do things and to adapt and develop their excellence in teaching. As the Lifelong Learning UK Standards make clear, reflection is a core component of effective continuing professional development (CPD) and key to becoming a skilled teacher.
But teacher reflection is not just essential for teachers. According to research by Prof. John Hattie, developing excellence in teaching has the single most powerful influence on student achievement. Read more about the benefits of self-reflection >
Here are some of the challenges that teachers face when reflecting on their own practice and, more importantly, how you can overcome them.
The challenges of teacher reflection
1. Perspective - What a teacher sees in a lesson is different from what the students see. Sometimes, for deeper insight, the teacher needs to gain the perspective of others, be it their students or colleagues.
2. Focus - We don’t always focus on the right things; it’s easy for teachers to dwell on problems rather than objectively review the lesson as a whole.
3. Memory - Research shows that the ability to accurately recall a lesson some time afterwards is limited.
4. Isolation - Self-reflection is typically a private, personal experience. Making teachers take a real, deep look at their experiences can be difficult.
5. Recognising progress - Setting measurable benchmarks for progress is difficult when the process of traditional self-reflection relies on subjective feelings about practice.
6. Understanding of self - It’s difficult not to cloud reflections on our performance with our perception of our abilities, traits and personality
How to overcome these challenges
Professional athletes use video to stay on top of their game. Politicians use video to perfect their speeches. Surgeons use video to continually refine their skills. All of these professionals study videos of experts in their fields to emulate great performance, to be inspired by new ideas and to identify areas of improvement. These professionals have been using video for decades because it works, and teachers can do the same.
Video allows teachers to reflect more effectively and accurately on their performance and to see the lesson as a whole from the students perspective, rather than relying on memory. It also allows them to get feedback from others and to objectively measure progress, helping them to gain greater understanding of their own abilities and traits.
“If you look at the research it says that about 80% of what happens in a class a teacher does not see or hear. How can we get more eyes into the class? How do you get other teachers going in there, looking at the impact and feeding back to help the teacher see what it’s like being a student in their classroom? I’m a great fan of recording classrooms and using video to show teachers how they look to students. That’s the power of video, it’s another way to see your impact” - Prof. John Hattie.
While feedback from others is helpful, video brings a new level of depth and awareness to teacher reflection; a firsthand sense of self rather than the hearsay of others, making it a highly effective tool for teacher CPD. Read more about why filming your practice is an essential part of professional development >
IRIS Connect enables teachers to capture an objective record of teaching and learning that can be shared. Using the IRIS Connect mobile app, teachers record their lessons which are automatically uploaded to a web platform. Once there they can privately view the videos and annotate their teaching practice using time-linked notes and analytical tools.
These videos become an invaluable resource for the individual teacher and wider school, allowing many teachers to benefit from the solutions of successful teachers.