Generally speaking, both terms are used interchangeably, so when we ask our teachers to reflect on their lessons, we are asking them to think about what they did, what they learnt, what went well and what didn’t, and how they can use these reflections to improve their teaching in future lessons.
Now look at these different reflective cycles and answer these questions.
If you want to try applying one of these cycles to your own teaching or training, complete Gibbs’s reflective cycle.
What do you think are the benefits and drawbacks of reflection?
Look at these statements about reflection. Do you think they describe benefits or drawbacks of reflection? Drag and drop the statements into the appropriate box.
Now match them to their descriptions. Read the flashcard and decide which comment is being described. Click Turn when you are ready to check.
Think about the benefits and drawbacks of reflection you have just read about. Now read this teacher trainer describing how she approaches giving feedback.
How does she attempt to overcome some of the drawbacks mentioned in the previous task?
Here is a task we often use:
Cut the pieces of paper up into strips. Ask trainees to work in groups. Place the strips in the middle of the table. Taking it in turns, trainees pick a strip and discuss the question. This task should be used immediately after TP or in an input session.
If you are able to, try the task with teachers you work with.
There are a wide variety of tasks available both online and in published resources – see the final topic in this chapter for more usable resources.
One way to overcome trainee difficulties about how to reflect is to provide your trainees with useful language to help them express themselves.
Here are some useful phrases which can be used when reflecting. Click on each title to see an example.
Example: I should have modelled the target language, so the learners could see and understand how to use it. This would give them a clear model of how to correctly pronounce the language.
Example: As I was monitoring the learners completing the freer speaking task, I noticed different examples of useful language. As I wanted to share this language with the group and didn’t want to interrupt, I waited until the end and did a mini-presentation of the new language.
Example: I realised that my instructions were really unclear throughout the lesson. This is because the learners kept asking what they should but doing, or they weren’t doing what I asked them to do. In future, I want to script my instructions so I know exactly what to say. I will keep them really simple rather than making them overly-complicated.
Example: I would change the pace of the lesson to ensure the learners were all engaged. I think I went too quickly, so some of the less able learners were unable to keep up.
Example: This was a positive experience for me because I managed to include some solid focus on pronunciation work which I have tended to leave out of my lessons. I included some drilling work – both choral and individual. I think the learners got a lot from this.
Example: I learnt from my planning of this lesson because I spent quite a bit of time thinking about the potential difficulties my learners would have with the target language. During the lesson, some of my anticipated difficulties actually happened, but due to my research, I was able to deal with them.
You may also find the following text useful to develop your understanding of reflective cycles.