The following blog post was written by Andrea Scholes, a faculty member at the Centre for Excellence in Immigrant and Intercultural Advancement.
Whenever I discuss the idea of reflecting on our learning with students, they always seem a little surprised when I tell them that I too reflect on my learning. I tell them that it's a lifelong practice, not just for students in an English language program! I share with them that, as well as reflecting on how a term has gone and how well the final assessments were completed, I also spend a few moments at the end of each class thinking about what happened in the classroom that day.
I have a word that I like to focus my thoughts on, in order to organize a kind of mental checklist at the end of a busy and tiring day. My word is clarity.
I reflect on the variety of learning and teaching activities the students and I have been engaged in, and I ask myself about the clarity of them all.
Were my outcomes for the class activities clear to me and the students?
- Did they know why I wanted them to complete a particular task, what I planned that they would learn from it and how it would be useful for them?
Were my instructions clear in the tasks I asked them to complete and on any worksheets I handed out? Did I clarify any misunderstandings?
- One day, a student left a book of short stories in the classroom, and I asked him about it the next day, explaining that it was not a good idea to leave books or other materials in the classroom, as the classroom was used by other people. He said that he didn’t know that I expected him to take the book home, and he thought it was just to read in class. At first, I was a little irked as it seemed pretty obvious to me that the book was to be read at home. Then I thought, maybe my expectations were not completely clear to all the students.
Did I succeed in helping my students to make clear connections with the material?
- Did they feel relevance and meaning for their own life and learning?
Was there a clear assessment strategy in the teaching and learning?
- If I did any formal assessment, did the students understand what I was doing and why I was doing it?
I will continue to encourage my students to reflect and be active participants in their learning. I hope the day does not come when I will not feel a need to reflect on my own teaching and learning. I will be either perfect or dead – neither of which I am anticipating in the near future.