Reflective Learning

-Ganesh Gnawali

Introduction

Reflection is great tool which leads us towards better learning. It is important aspect for teacher as well students. Being both I’m observing this issue from the near and practising this in my current days which is certainly enhancing my teaching and learning activities. As a teacher or lecturer throughout the year we can share our ideas about teaching and learning in staff meetings, conversations in the staff room, and outside the classroom. It is truth that most of us know the theory of reflective practice. In order to take this theory into practice, teachers should become aware that within their own teaching routine they have the main tools for personal professional progress: their own teaching experience and their reflections on it, and the interaction with other teachers in the institution. I believe that “teacher development takes place when teachers, as individuals or in a group, consciously take advantage of such resources to forward their own professional learning” Ur (1999: 318). Development does not just happen with time, it happens with awareness. An awareness of a need to change. Why we are back to take advantage from our own resources i.e. colleagues?
Bashyal (2007) expresses Reflective practice is a mode that integrates or links thought and action with reflection. It involves thinking about and critically analyzing one’s actions with the goal of improving professional practice. Engaging in reflective practice requires individuals to assume the perspective of an external observer in order to identify the assumptions and feelings underlying their practice and then to speculate about how these assumptions and feelings affects practice. It is interesting to note that Ur (1999) also considers that the Reflective Model can tend to over-emphasize teacher experience, with a relative neglect of external input – lectures, reading, and so on – which can make a real contribution to understanding. She comes to the conclusion that a fully effective Reflective Model should make room for external as well as personal input. She calls this model “enriched reflection”.
Professionalization has become a very important issue in the field of e education. Reflection on one’s own work is a key component of being a professional and is essential to teacher education. Teachers must examine their beliefs, assumptions and biases regarding teaching and learning, and determine how those beliefs influence classroom practice. Reflection improves a teacher’s ability to make appropriate and sound judgments and, therefore, become an empowered decision-maker.
Reflection refers to the ongoing process of critically examining and refining practice, taking into careful consideration the personal, pedagogical, societal and ethical contexts associated with schools, college, classrooms and the multiple roles of teachers.So reflection can be summarized as a natural process that facilitates the development of future action from the contemplation of past and/or current behavior.
The Collaboration in Reflection
The opportunity to share with colleagues and friends is important in becoming a more reflective practitioner. Feedback, comments, and discussion about your reflections might come from your mentor or supervising teachers, your university supervisor/coordinator and/or your peers in the program. Reflection, as a method of inquiry into teaching, can be collaborative. For example, questions from a friend can help clarify an issue for you, just as a probe or comment from a university supervisor can help you look deeper into the situation. Collaboration when developing a portfolio includes requesting feedback from you mentor, university supervisor, or colleagues and peers. It can also take the form of discussion with colleagues who will assist you in identifying appropriate artifacts to or to help you clarify your beliefs and dispositions. The feedback option provides opportunities for peer evaluation and editing as part of this collaborative process.

It has been noticed that teachers talk about their students in particular, whenever they meet their colleagues. In addition, it is quite revealing that the topics teachers touch on are frequently related to some problematic classroom situation, some negative attitudes or some difficulties students have in their learning process. Rarely do teachers speak about their student´s achievements in a spontaneous way. We often hear teachers say: “They don´t feel like studying and therefore they are getting low marks.” “They never get the initiative in oral interaction; I have to push them on all the time!” “They make too many spelling mistakes.” “Nothing seems to interest them.” “They don´t care about their homework”, “they are not serious about their study.”etc. On the other hand the principal, head teacher and managements committees blame teachers that they don’t prepare well. This motorbike teachers have not enough time so they hardly manage the time and they do not attend the meeting regularly and so on. It’s better to assign to self reflect on their own teaching of the teachers for their and institutions’ professional development.
Although we may agree that teachers´ complaints have become commonplace, we are inclined to think that when teachers talk to colleagues about their students´ problems, difficulties or attitudes they are expressing what they are really worried about or dissatisfied at. Such conversations drawback to struggles and disappointments which must be attended to in a reflective and professional way.
I found the clear idea that Neupane(2006) expresses the purpose of reflection is to allow the possibility of learning through learning. The experience may be the experience of meeting, project, a disaster, a success, a relationship or any other internal and external event. Certain kinds of experience create particularly powerful opportunities for learning through reflection. To make new sense of our experience through the process of inquiring into it is another aim of reflection. So that we can move forward in practical ways that make a difference. The basic idea of reflection in teacher development is that a teacher learns about her/his teaching by observing and understanding what is happening in her/his own classroom and reflecting in it. Reflection involves a structured approach to learning experiences.
Approaches to develop Reflective Practice
Underhill, 2006 presents the following most frequently adopted approaches for developing the skill of reflecting practice:
a. Self monitoring
b. Writing a teaching journal
c. Peer observation
d. Teacher support group
e. Reflective conversation
f. Action inquiry
g. Teaching portfolio

So reflection is a developmental learning process which can be acquire through practice teaching, attending seminars and conferences, subscribing to professional journals and publications. There are other important issues to be taken into account are individual or group reflection and interaction with colleagues, learning through experience etc.
A reflective approach to teaching involves changes in the way we usually perceive teaching and our role in the process of teaching. As the examples above illustrate, teachers who explore their own teaching through critical reflection develop changes in attitudes and awareness which they believe can benefit their professional growth as teachers, as well as improve the kind of support they provide their students. Like other forms of self-inquiry, reflective teaching is not without its risks, since journal writing, self-reporting or making recordings of lessons can be time-consuming. However teachers engaged in reflective analysis of their own teaching report that it is a valuable tool for self-evaluation and professional growth. Reflective teaching suggests that experience alone is insufficient for professional growth, but that experience coupled with reflection can be a powerful impetus for teacher development. I’m realizing this as a fact, though I’m in the beginng stage.

References:
Bashyal, G.P.(2007) Reflection and critical pedagogy, Journal of NELA: NELTA
UR, P. (1999) A Course in Language Teaching: Practice and theory. Cambridge. CUP
Neupane, M. (2006) Reflective learning and teaching .Young Voice in ELT: Faculty of Education. T.U.

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2 Responses to Reflective Learning

  1. […] Gnawali’s article Reflective Learning ( https://neltachoutari.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/reflective-learning/ )concentrates on the fact that the reflective practice leads us to better understanding and […]

  2. Shankar Gnawali says:

    I am very delighted to read the article that demonstrates a useful guide to understanding and using reflective learning, looking both at theory and practical implementation. The article critically discusses the importance of reflective learning and its practice in teaching and learning process, globally. This article is very important to both teachers and students as it make clear on how to develop self-awareness, critical thinking, professional development etc. The article can be a source of inspiration for students and those who are looking future career in this area. Sincerely, I really enjoyed the article.

    Middlesex University

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