Hailey D. Barry
Vancouver Community College
Instructor: Jeff May
‘Simply having experiences does not imply that they are reflected on, understood, or analyzed critically.’
Upon reflection of this quote from Brookfield, Stephen D.. The Skillful Teacher: On Technique, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom (p. 12). Wiley. Kindle Edition., I will describe the importance of reflection throughout the learning process, and explain why I believe students should be encouraged by their instructors to develop this very important skill. Supporting my ideas with previous teaching experiences, I will conclude with changes I can make in my instructional delivery.
Reflecting on this quote, I was caught by the second sentence in particular. I know that I get more out education when I critically reflect on the material or experience. Benefits that I have noticed for myself are retention of information, understanding varying point of views about the topic or information, and the ability to transform a piece of information into a life or skill tool. Because I have realized that the practice of reflection can really ‘drive home’ the learned information, I have made a point of using reflective exercises for my students. In my experience, reflective tools can shed light on what a student has learned in the course and how ‘far’ they have come. Reflection on what they have learned can be quite encouraging for them.
Because I have found reflection during education such a valuable tool for myself, I was excited to incorporate it into my own classroom. I realized that I had rarely been asked over the years of my traditional education to reflect on what I had learned. Acknowledging that some people have a tendency to reflect on their experiences as they have them, I felt that for the most part, unless asked to do so, students were not reflecting on the information being delivered. The first year I instructed, I had no solid classroom experience, and had been hired more for my experience in the mining industry than for any instructional capabilities. I started taking the PIDP course before I chose to return and instruct the course again, knowing that acquiring skills for instruction would help me and the students.
I found myself mildly frustrated reflecting on this quote, due to this simple but valuable educational skill not being utilized more throughout high school. Just as I believe that money management should be taught to students in high schools now, I believe critical reflection should be a part of the learning experience as I believe it would encourage active learning. ‘Active learning means that the mind is actively engaged. Its defining characteristics are that students are dynamic participants in their learning and that they are reflecting on and monitoring both the processes and the results of their learning.’ (Barkley, Elizabeth F.. Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty (Kindle Locations 577-579). Wiley. Kindle Edition.)
Reading this quote gave me a boost of confidence in my instructional abilities. I agree with the statement completely, and I feel proud that I have made a point of supplementing curriculum I deliver with extras of my own creation. I would like to learn about more options and techniques for reflection in the classroom, and the results that different types of reflection can produce. Currently, I use something similar to the ideas provided by Brookfield in Chapter 3 of The Skillfull Teacher; ‘The One Minute Paper’, and ‘The Muddiest Point’. I know that any curriculum I am a part of creating in the future will certainly include reflective components. I also realized how helpful this exercise has been in my life outside of the classroom. Having the ability to use similar reflection techniques on other aspects of my life, relationships, business and decisions has been extremely beneficial for me. I feel that reflecting has helped me with anxiety issues, communication in my marriage, and keeping a focus on how little things all tie in to make up a bigger picture.
I have gained a few insights from the reflection of this quote:
- I will explore additional reflective options for the classroom. Currently, I use mainly reflective writing, but guided discussion and reflection as a group should also be focused on to again, encourage active learning and build a sense of community in the classroom.
- I should be utilizing the reflective experience to my benefit more than I do currently. I do pay attention to the trends and common themes in the writing that indicates where there may be gaps in information, or method of delivery. Using a variety of methods for reflection would provide me with even more feedback.
- Use critical reflection for myself in the classroom. In The Skillful Teacher, Brookfield explains that critical reflection works best when ‘we check the accuracy of our actions and assumptions through four complementary lenses— the lenses of students’ eyes, colleagues’ perceptions, literature, and our own autobiography.’ He then provides examples on how we can achieve reflection through each of these lenses.
Brookfield, Stephen D.. The Skillful Teacher: On Technique, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom (p. 12). Wiley. Kindle Edition.
Barkley, Elizabeth F.. Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty (Kindle Locations 577-579). Wiley. Kindle Edition.