The Power of Reflection

Information from presentation at ASCD 2012 in Philadelphia, PA.

During the session participants created their own definitions of reflection:

Also during the session, participants brainstormed answers to the following tasks:

Targeted Observations

George Mason University    College of Education and Human Development
Graduate School of Education
Program: Elementary Education – Licensure

During the semester you will do 3 targeted observations of professional teachers. These will focus on management, instruction, and assessment. For each observation be sure to watch for a minimum of 30 minutes. It is most helpful to see a lesson in its entirety. Use the guiding questions to focus your observations and your reflective summaries. What did you learn? How might what you’ve seen affect your own teaching and why? Include questions you would ask the teacher and why you would ask them. Debrief at least one of your observations with the teacher. Reflect on your conversation.

Management Focused Observation:
•    What expectations, rules, and consequences are posted? Are they consistently enforced?
•    What routines and procedures have been established? (Macromanagement)
•    How does the teacher address off-task behavior? (Micromanagement)
•    What else do you notice related to classroom management?
Instruction Focused Observation:
•    How are students grouped for instruction? How does it change?
•    How does the teacher differentiate for learners with different ability levels, language proficiency, or interests?
•    Did you see any of the following? Please explain the activity and the effect on the students:  
o    Critical thinking
o    Creative thinking
o    Problem solving
o    Authentic learning
o    Student choice
o    Active participation
o    Technology
Assessment Focused Observation:
•    How does the teacher know what the students have learned?
•    Please describe any informal assessment you see.
•    Please describe any formal assessment you see.
•    How does the teacher document her assessment information?

**How can the prompts be modified to foster increased critical reflection?

How to support mentors as models of Reflective Teachers

According to Ryan and Cooper (2006) Reflective Teachers ask the following questions:

What am I doing and why?
How can I better meet my students’ needs?
What options are available?
How can I encourage more involvement or learning on the part of the students?
Have I considered my own values as a professional and my comfort level in acting on those values?
What conscious choice can I make to make a difference?

What are the best ways to encourage/support mentors in modeling their use of these questions for their interns?

Share Seminar

The best critical incident presentations operate at the level of critical reflection. Not all presentations achieve this level. In an effort to increase the use of critical reflection we are trying a peer video analysis to include an intern analyzing video of their own teaching with a peer. The critical incident will then be drawn from the video and presented at the seminar. 
What questions are most likely to prompt critical reflection?

Mentoring Styles

The following framework of mentoring styles is adapted from Harrison, Lawson, and Wortley (2005)

Reflecting: The mentor probes, questions, and while providing a relevant contextual knowledge and experiences of their own in relation to critical reflection, allows the intern to do the reflection on “the process of reflection” in other words on the conditions that contribute to the experience.
Inquiry: The mentor and intern operate together, through co-inquiry, to investigate the causes or possible solutions and to look for new situations in which to test ideas. They both draw on the evidence-base (e.g., Mentor’s observation of the intern). The mentor allows the intern to take the lead in the evaluation.
Guiding: The mentor acts as “critical friend”. The focus of the discussion is on the students’ learning rather than teaching performance, and so the questioning revolves about the Why? rather than the How? or What? of teaching performance. The intern drives the process, though the planning and intentions are examined and challenged by both.
Active Coaching: Here, the mentor “intervenes”, making planned, systematic interventions in the intern’s reflection on practice. The mentor allows the intern to articulate fully their experiences. The interventions are meaningful and analytical. The mentor sifts out significant features and the important values and assumptions being made. The mentor may challenge the intern’s versions of events and examine alternative possibilities.
Telling: Mentor is the expert offering tips rather than eliciting strategies from the intern. The mentor suggests areas for further work rather than drawing these out of the intern in discussion. The mentor offers opinions and judgements rather than analyzing and drawing upon the evidence base.

Research indicates that most mentoring remains at the telling, active coaching and guiding styles.  What questions and/or prompts will help mentors move up the framework into more inquiry and reflecting?

Current Assignments to Prompt Reflection:

EDCI 555              Vision Statement Paper                   

This assignment requires you to write a paper that articulates your teaching vision. The best teachers are passionate about teaching, and they know why they are passionate.  That is, they can articulate a vision for what they are trying to do in their instruction and what impact they want to have on their students.

You will submit two versions of your vision during the course.  The first will be shared with colleagues in draft form in class and will be due to the instructor on February 20th. This first version will describe your vision for teaching.  Think about: Why you want to teach?  What are you passionate about?  The first vision statement should not exceed three pages. 

You will begin independently revising your vision based on new learning, continued reading of professional sources, consultation with colleagues, and additional personal reflection.  However, the revised vision will also address the tasks, activities, and experiences you will implement in your classroom that will help you achieve your vision.

As you revise your vision, you will share it with colleagues periodically during the course.  A final version will be due to the instructor on May 7, 2012.  This final vision statement should not exceed five pages.

The instructor will evaluate both versions of the vision statement in terms of how well you justify your position (i.e., how well you bring readings and knowledge to bear in building a thoughtful and defensible rationale for what you say you stand for).  Your vision itself will not be evaluated (it is personal to you, and what you say you stand for is your business).  Instead, the evaluation will focus on why you hold that vision and how you justify your position.  And in the second draft, why certain tasks, activities and/or experiences are likely to lead your learners to the vision you have for them.

**Helpful Hints:

Teaching is hard work that receives little praise. Teachers who are able to persist and thrive in this environment are passionate about teaching and know why they are passionate about their work. Their vision is what keeps them going. Throughout the semester, think about and work on articulating your vision for teaching. A good way to think about your vision is to focus on what you want your students to become. What do you value most about the work of teaching? Why did you enter the teaching profession? An article you may find helpful is Gerald Duffy’s Teaching and the Balancing of Round Stones. It can be found online in the June, 1998 issue of The Phi Delta Kappan.

Duffy, G. (1998). Teaching and the balancing of round stones. The Phi Delta Kappan, 19 (10), 777-780.

Biweekly Report

Bi Weekly

George Mason University                             Form A
Graduate School of Education                         I/CF/CT

Intern                            Reporting Period     to _________
Clinical Faculty/Cooperating Teacher                            
Note: The intern initiates and completes #1; the classroom teacher completes #2 and #3 using the other side of the form as necessary.

1.    Briefly describe your teaching activities for this period, with emphasis on major successes and difficulties.

2.    Briefly describe strengths of the intern's performance for this period and areas needing improvement.

3.    What recommendations or instructions do you have for the next week(s)?

Observer:_____________________________ Clinical Faculty/Cooperating
                                Teacher or University Facilitator
Lesson Observed:_________________________________________________








The Teacher Candidate Reflections document the individual’s knowledge, skills, dispositions, and ability to teach. Further it documents the candidate’s ability to positively influence PK-6 student learning. The Reflections are a requirement for successful completion of the elementary licensure program. The Reflections are shared during a seminar at the end of each semester of the internship (December and May for the Year-Long program; May for the Semester-Long and Intensive programs). The University Facilitator, Site Facilitator, Clinical Faculty/Cooperating Teachers, Interns, Administrators, and other Teachers will be invited to attend the share seminar.

Critical Incident Reflection
The following should be used to guide your description of and reflection on a critical teaching incident:

a.    Provide a specific example from your independent teaching experience when there was a discrepancy between your intent and the outcome.
b.     Provide an analysis of the critical incident situation and support it with evidence.
c.     Describe the alternative ways of thinking about this incident as a teacher. You should draw upon your readings, knowledge of best practice, observations, and course work for support.
d.     Describe what you would do differently and discuss how your practice will change as a result of new understandings.

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    teachers. Reflective Practice, 3, 205-218.
Corcoran, C.A. & Leahy, R. (2003). Growing professionally through reflective practice. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 40, 30-33.
Danielson, L. (2008). Making reflective practice more concrete through reflective
    decision making. The Educational Forum, 72, 129-37.
Davis, E.A. (2006). Characterizing productive reflection among preservice elementary teachers: Seeing what matters. Teaching and Teacher Education: An International Journal of Research and Studies, 22, 281-301.
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Harrison, J, Lawson, T., & Wortley, A. (2005). Facilitating the professional learning of
new teachers through critical reflection on practice during mentoring
meetings. European Journal of Teacher Education, 28, 267-292.
Lee, H-J. (2005). Understanding and assessing preservice teachers’ reflective thinking. Teaching and Teacher Education: An International Journal of Research and Studies, 21, 699-715.
Loughran, J.J. (2002). Effective reflective practice: In search of meaning in learning about teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 53, 33-43.
Risko, V.J., Vukelich, C., & Roskos, K. (2002). Preparing teachers for reflective practice: Intentions, contradictions, and possibilities. Language Arts, 80, 134-144.
Rodgers, C. (2002). Defining reflections: Another look at John Dewey and reflective thinking. Teachers College Record, 104, 842-866.
Schon, D. A. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner: Toward a new design for
    teaching and learning in the profession. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.
Serafina, F. (2002). Reflective practice and learning. Primary Voices K-6, 10, 2-7.
Shandomo, H.M. (2010). The role of critical reflection in teacher education. School-
    University Partnerships, 4, 101-113.
Stein, D. (2000). Teaching critical reflection. Myths and realities No. 7. ERIC
Van Manen, M. (1977). Linking ways of knowing with ways of being practical.
    Curriculum Inquiry, 6,  205-228.
Wittenburg, D., & McBride, R. (2001). Validity and reliability of the Dispositions of Reflective thinking questionnaire. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 72, A-83.
Yost, D.S.; S.M. Sentner; A. Forlenza-Bailey (2000). An examination of the construct
    of critical reflection: Implications for teacher education programming in the
    21st century. Journal of Teacher Education, 51, 39-49.

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