Teachers do a lot of reflecting, but do we ever truly reflect?
The type of reflection I’m referring to is the type that drills down to the core and demands to explore and examine the inner workings of who we are, how best we teach and why things worked out the way they did in our practice, style and approach.
Do you venture outside of yourself and look to blame others when things didn’t work out or do you look within and accept the home truths that laid buried beneath the surface?
Who are you? What is your tendency?
As teachers, we expect our students to reflect all the time. “What could you do differently next time?” or “Write a piece on what you now know and understand because of this experience.”
Do we leave enough room for teachers to do the same? I’m leaning towards a ‘no’ here.
I guess this is where I have a problem with it all. We get our students to reflect, yet teachers are the worst at it. Yes, there are those 6 times in the year we skim over the reflection piece of a planner – agreed. But, it is more about getting through it, as opposed to that true excavation of how to be better, increase intrigue and insight for the next opportunity to improve. I believe that there needs to be a section (time allowed) where students give feedback to teachers on how we could have taught them better. Imagine that! An opportunity for us to learn from our students and see things through the eyes of a 6 or 10 year-old.
We would discover things about ourselves that we would normally ‘overlook’ and, therefore would ‘look over’ to seek ways to simplify, improve and learn from.
Give students a voice to build a real culture of honesty – that will lead us towards being and doing better for them and for ourselves too.
I also believe that (now I’m taking a side Sam) teachers need to not only reflect about the pedagogy, they also need to reflect about what they bring and don’t bring to each unit – not just as a teacher, but as a person. We are great at using terms like growth mindset and innovation for education, redefining, being a capacity builder…. what does all that mean if we leave out the biggest piece – how is your practice changing you?
Recently, I have been increasingly struck by how true is the wisdom of “native” people, of the “uncivilized” and the “savage”. The people who have been squashed, massacred, enslaved and nearly erased. Take this quote for example:
Today, my students finished their PYP Exhibition. This is a very intense 6-8 weeks of hard work, stress and public scrutiny. When it drew to a close, while kids in other classes were madly tearing their work down (or even destroying it, in some cases), I remembered hearing this quote and acted upon it. I gave my students 10 minutes to sit down and talk with their friends. Then, I asked them to lie down in the meditation pose taught to them by Shem, a student teacher who has been working with us for a couple of months, and asked them to relax completely. I asked them to let the experiences they had just had soak into their brains, their memories and their souls. I asked them to allow their learning to become part of who they are.
I gave them the time to absorb it all.
I gave them the time to develop as people.