The impact of education today is not achieving the results it once did. We’ve realized that the ‘one-size-fits-all’ model of education is not effective for a classroom of students that have different learning preferences and strong points. However, in adopting new pedagogical approaches and classroom models, there are two crucial points that need to be reworked before the approaches and models can achieve desired results.
Teachers and students are two important factors to consider when adopting a new approach. As with any pedagogical method, customization is an integral part of the system. The instructional plan of any approach will need to be revised depending on the students’ preferences and capabilities and the teacher’s strengths. To that end, reflection is a viable tool to help achieve the desired results.
Reflection can help teachers and students understand what’s going wrong, as well as how to improve. Reflective teaching and reflective learning are concepts that enhance the educational experience for students and encourage better outcomes from a class.
Reflective teaching is the self-evaluation of the teaching practices adopted in class. In undertaking the process, teachers examine the effectiveness of their pedagogy, delineate the strengths of their strategy and identify the areas for improvement.
The process involves the systematic collection, recording and analysis of thoughts, observations and feedback. To utilize reflective teaching, teachers can do the following:
- Collect feedback by noting down thoughts in a diary or ask students and colleagues for their views and assessments.
- Record videos of lessons to get a first-hand view of the thoughts and feedback collected. Doing this can help teachers observe aspects that had not caught their attention.
- Analyse how weak points can be improved and reinforce their strategy to align with their strengths.
Reflective learning is a conscious process that students can use to improve their learning experience. It involves understanding one’s preferences, strengths and weaknesses while developing self-awareness about one’s experiences during the learning process.
To learn reflectively, students need to question how they feel about the topic, what they liked about it and how they can overcome their weaknesses or dislikes. Reflective learning provides insights into how a student prefers learning and helps him or her set goals to learn better. Students, through reflective learning, begin to think critically and learn independently.
The importance of reflective thinking and learning
Reflection is a necessary step towards improvement. By inculcating reflective teaching and reflective learning, teachers and students, respectively, begin to understand themselves better and subsequently, how they impact the learning experience. Both teachers and students begin to learn from their mistakes and plan their own development. The process benefits their self-growth.
Together, reflective teaching and learning help improve the overall educational experience. Education is not a static process; its dynamics require that teaching is customized to meet the needs of the learners and that that learning is aligned to grasp the most out of the teachings. It is a cycle of constantly reworking the instructional method and learning system until the process is customized to meet the needs of a specific class. In essence, there is no fixed method for every class. However, reflective teaching and learning help attain the goal of improvising and improving the pedagogical method to suit a class’s need. They help create a synergy between the teacher, the class and the education.