Though the term “reflective practice” may sound unfamiliar, many people have reflected themselves or have seen others reflect on their practice. Take sports, for example. After a game, athletes and coaches typically watch a recording of the game in order to understand what went wrong and where improvements can be made. They reflect on their performance. Musicians regularly use reflective practice in order to improve their skills; they listen to recordings of themselves, identifying areas that need improvement. People who want to build their confidence with public speaking may film themselves while alone and watch it back in order to become more comfortable with delivering a speech. Those who want to reach their potential utilize reflective practice in order to improve.
The concept of reflective practice is commonly used in education, but the focus is typically on the students reflecting on their learning. What about teachers? Teachers are professionals. Their job requires them to impart knowledge to others, explain concepts, and provide structure, among other things. They lecture. And like athletes or musicians, teachers can use reflective practice in order to improve their teaching and reach their potential as educators.
Early educators like John Dewey promoted reflective thinking as a way to understand how decisions are made, how we learn, and how we use information. Schon popularized the concept of reflective practice in teaching, using reflection to improve professional practice. Some might argue that experience alone will help a person improve their craft; the old adage “practice makes perfect.” Dewey and others argue that experience is not enough. “We do not actually learn from experience as much as we learn from reflecting on experience”. Simply having years of experience in teaching will not automatically lead to being a great teacher. When teachers have the time and opportunity to reflect upon their teaching and to compare, contrast, and revise their views, they come to understand the nature of exemplary teaching.
The Fizz Method of flipping the classroom provides a way for teachers to be reflective of their teaching, improving their professional practice. Teachers using the Fizz Method film short video lectures using a camera, whiteboards, and markers. The simplicity of this method keeps the focus on the teacher’s lecture. Watching yourself on video can be an extremely powerful and effective method for reflective practice, so teachers are expected to watch their lecture videos, noting strengths and weaknesses in their performance. They reflect on their practice.
“[Reflective thinking] involves willingness to endure a condition of mental unrest and disturbance”, because in reflecting, we must be critical. But in order to change our thoughts and beliefs about our performance, reflective practice is crucial. You are your best teacher. Reflecting on your own work is the quickest and most powerful method of making real change to your professional practice and improving your skills.
Review a 2013-2014 summary of survey data illustrating the power of recording and reflecting on video lectures for teachers across different grade levels and content areas.
– Dr. Brandy Parker & Dr. Lodge McCammon