Reflection Improves Our Practice

Reflection Improves Our Practice: This is "The Right Stuff"

Every day we walk by a mirror somewhere in our wanderings: at home, at work, in a store. Sometimes we stop and take a minute to fluff, smooth, straighten, or tuck. We move on when we feel better about what we see.

Taking the time to reflect in a mirror gives us feedback. It leads to improvements! The same is true about reflecting on our performance as educators. The most useful feedback we get is from self-observation. In the research about effective teaching, self-reflection is linked consistently with teachers who produce high levels of student learning.

When we reflect on our teaching and our student's learning, we take seriously the learning targets we set for our students and think deeply about how we might go about moving them toward those targets. We deepen, adapt, and adjust our instruction to challenge and to accommodate each student in our classroom.

The questions we ponder are focused on the quality of our instruction and how it improves student learning. In the process, we learn more about ourselves. And just like when we look in the mirror, we begin the process of fluffing, smoothing, straightening, or tucking so that what we see in our reflection improves.

Some of us reflect in writing. Some reflect in conversation with a trusted peer. Some reflect in the middle of a sleepless night. The key to success lies in the action we take after the reflection. We look back to identify and label our actions and the results of our actions, but we also need to ask ourselves what to do next. Without a future action phase, we only "admire the problem." That would be like looking in the mirror and NOT making adjustments…hard to imagine! Without a plan for adjusting, the reflection will not improve; our results will show no change.

In the Nine Mile Falls School District, we know that reflection improves our practice. We are committed to collaborate effectively so that we use our time well with reflective processes at the heart of our work. On Thursday mornings, teachers are shifting their conversations from WHAT students should learn to HOW DO WE KNOW they have learned it. In the "how do we know" conversation, we take time to reflect on student assessment data which leads us to consider effective teaching strategies and causes us to revise our personal performance in classrooms. This is "the stuff" that lifts student performance. This is "the stuff" that brings passion and motivation back into our teaching. Reflection improves our practice. This is "the right stuff."