Mittwoch, 25. April 2012

(b)easy reflecting

The last two months have been particularly busy. Managing work, teaching, preparing for exams and coaching, take up pretty much all of ones time.
Because of this, I wasn’t able to post new things to this blog. But not writing about something, shouldn’t mean you can’t think about it. Reflecting about your teaching is necessary either way. Most student-teachers won’t even reflect in a written form, they just ‘say’ they’ve been reflecting, but most of the time, the only thing they did, was to think about their preparation, or the lesson in a very basic way (‘well, I liked the lesson, it was good’; ‘the kids weren’t focused today’). But this thinking won’t get you far, you have to dig deeper and ask the ‘why’ and ‘how’ about the lesson or the kids. Being that busy, it’s easy to get into this random reflecting. But there are a few things, which can help make busy reflecting into easy reflecting.

There was one lesson, where near the end, the focus of almost everyone in the group just plummeted. It was one of the first spring days, where it was kind of warmer than the weeks before, but not necessarily different. It was after the lunch break, and the first part went pretty routine, but the second part (we did some reading and speaking exercises) was just ‘useless’.
It bothered me as soon as I stepped outside of the classroom and my mind raced through what happened, why it happened for the first time today and what could be done differently the next time. Almost naturally, I took out my phone and typed in two or three notes about this lesson, and because I wrote it in my phone, I had no urge to write more than three, four sentences. This way, I summed up my thoughts perfectly. Not only did I remember it easier, it made me focus on the important part of what happened.
The second thing that I also found useful, was to talk to somebody right after the lesson, just like with the notes. Now even if you don’t find colleagues, who are willing to listen to you for five minutes, just try one of your friends. The important part is to do it quickly and trying to sum it up. That way you have to focus on the little things that made it work or didn’t make it work. In my experience, if I’m busy and running from A to B all the time, it’s easier to share my thoughts quickly, than to get into long deep discussion, in which one of the partners loses their point anyway. So, share immediately, reflect through telling someone.
The last one is obvious. Before preparing your next lesson, try to think about the last time. But, don’t dwell on everything that happened, take the first two things that come to your mind. Now try to incorporate it into the new lesson (if it was something good), or think about how to avoid or fix it in the upcoming lesson (if it was problematic). Again, the key thing for me was to make it quick. Also, the two things that I remembered spontaneously, were usually things that stuck in my head for a reason.

I didn’t actively try out new things and try to reflect differently, but because of my schedule, I stumbled across a few methods that helped me. And since these things kind of came spontaneously, they were pretty natural. It made it easier and helped quite a bit.

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