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By Dr. Harry Tennant

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Reflection and continuous improvement

As the business proceeds, there will be mistakes. Some things will go badly. Some novel situations will arise. But the careful entrepreneur can continue to update and refine the processes. Over time, the business gets better and better at doing what it does.

As a teacher, as in every other vocation, you too will make mistakes. Some classes will go well, some will go less well. Sometimes you will end a class period on a positive and enthusiastic note and sometimes you will just run out of steam. But the key to continuous improvement in teaching is to maintain a habit of reflection (a reflection process, actually) about your teaching.

We learn from practice, but not all practice is the same. Deliberate practice, where we think about what a perfect performance is, try to achieve it, and then reflect on how to do better, is the most effective way to practice. Simply repeating the same performance without a conscious effort to improve is unlikely to result in much improvement.

The simplest way to reflect on your daily teaching experience is simply to keep a notebook of your thoughts each day, looking back over what worked, what didn’t and how you might improve next time. This habit of reflection and the continuous striving for improvement can be the basis for becoming a better teacher.

Another simple and revealing technique is to make an occasional video recording of yourself teaching.  Just  as athletes see things they didn’t know they were doing, you may find some surprises also.

As with any learning, learning through reflection is likely to be enhanced by discussing issues with mentors, other teachers and your students. Ask for help or for ideas on how to better address the issues. Ask students to rate the difficulty of a recent topic or the most interesting or most important part of the week’s lesson.

Posted at 12:00 AM Keywords: reflection , deliberate practice 3 Comments

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