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TEACHING STANDARD: "Reflection and Continuous Growth"

3/18/2014

UEA’s Educators Taking the Lead initiative is designed to support member success in the new educator evaluation process by focusing on effective teaching practices and instructional quality. March 2014’s focus is Standard 8: Reflection and Continuous Growth (PDF).

Standard 8: Reflection and Continuous Growth

“The teacher is a reflective practitioner who uses evidence to continually evaluate and adapt practice to meet the needs of each learner.”

By Signe Balluff, UEA State Evaluation Lead and fourth-grade teacher

One of the most dangerous things that can happen in any job is apathy. Apathy takes compassion, caring and idealism away from not only us, but from our students. Consider for a moment your personal physician. Suppose that she graduated with a degree in medicine in 1972. Now consider whether you would want your physician to be content with only the knowledge she learned when she received her degree. Would you be content with the treatment you received from her today? Of course not.

Likewise, many changes have taken place in our own profession – society has changed, classrooms have changed, technology has changed and students have changed. As educators, we also need to grow and change. Reflecting upon our practice and seeking ways for continual growth is a fundamental part of being an effective teacher.

Utah Effective Teaching Standards define a highly effective teacher as one who uses multiple data sources, understands the role of colleagues, seeks collaboration and actively seeks professional learning. At several schools, I have had the opportunity to work with teams of people who meet together with the purpose of reflecting on current practices. These meetings happen before school, during lunch, after school or any other time we need to discuss something.

Reflecting on students, behaviors or concepts gives us an opportunity to grow as a team as we work together to solve problems. However, many of the most fulfilling reflections happen when I am by myself, thinking about students and preparing lessons. I may remember how the year before, the lesson would have been better if I had extended the time; or I may think that certain students may need to be grouped differently for a certain lesson. Sometimes I must rely on the expertise of others. Speech pathologists, special education teachers, counselors and psychologists give great advice and help when self-reflection leads to a challenge I cannot meet on my own.

I follow up on my self-reflection with a few minutes of research. I may talk with another teacher who has successfully dealt with the same issues in the past or I may go online and find a resource about a certain lesson. Whatever happens after self-reflection, the result should be that I continually grow in my profession and my students are positively impacted. This article from the British Council explains how reflective teaching is useful and purposeful.

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