You Should Never Reflect on Practice

evaluation pdhpe reflecting on practice teaching unit evaluation units of work Jun 15, 2022

One thing that drives me crazy is when a teacher reflects on their practice. I mean we are all told we should reflect on our practice. The goal is obviously to improve, but I'm going to tell you why you should never reflect on your practice and tell you what I think you should do instead.

Reason 1 - Reflecting on Practice is Shallow

Whenever I see reflections teachers have written it is normally in response to 2 questions:

  1. What worked well?
  2. What didn't?

And that is it. I then see teachers think back to their lessons and make comments like, "the students really enjoyed the practical lesson on cultural activities" or "the students didn't seem to like having to present to the class". This type of reflection is super shallow and really will not lead to great improvements in your teaching or your students' learning.

Reason 2 - Reflecting on Practice is Subjective

You can see in my 2 example statements above just how subjective things can be, the word "seem" comes in there on both accounts. The whole reflective process is just the teacher trying to identify what they think worked well or didn't. For me the lack of evidence is astounding. To start with as a teacher we miss a lot of what is happening in the classroom or out on the field. But more importantly, there is no evidence being looked at to check to see if actions we think worked actually did.

Reason 3 - We Seem to Just be Ticking the Box

I think because we have all been told to reflect on our practice we want to do it. We think it will improve our practice, but also, often the school wants to see this, so we put these 2 questions in, maybe a bit more, but not much, and then we tick the box and say it is done. Sometimes we don't even use the reflection to change anything in our units, which are the same programs we have been using for years.

So, What should you do instead?

EVALUATING! We should be evaluating our units of work, not just reflecting on them. We should be gathering and looking at the evidence of learning. Identify where our students have improved the most and least. We should then look to improve how we taught certain sections.

But, how do we evaluate our units?

I'm so glad you asked 😀 because I have a few tips for you and a free template you could use.

  1. Make sure other teachers observe some of your lessons and provide you with feedback.
  2. Survey your students and identify: which aspects of the lesson they enjoyed, what they wish they could have spent longer on, where they struggled to understand something etc
  3. Gather evidence of student learning. This can be as simple as looking through book work, or projects made. Saving Kahoot quiz scores or looking at student assessment results. you could even do a pre and post-unit "brain dump" to see how much the students have learnt.

Once you have this sort of data and support. Use a template, based on the National Teaching Standards. While often we don't like having to conform to these, they can be useful as they are entrenched in plenty of research. And of course, you can always add more to them, such as a section to consider the learning dispositions.

If you don't have a template based on the descriptors, I have a perfect gift for you 😊. Just fill in the form below and I will send you a copy of the template.

Subscribe to the site

Get tips to help you:

  • teach PDHPE
  • engage your students
  • improve your practice

and a whole lot more.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.