Learning isn’t just for students. As educators, we need to consistently evaluate and improve ourselves and our methods of teaching to ensure we’re providing the best possible service to the children in care.
The best practice is reflection, where you spend a few minutes in evaluation each day. You’ll think about how effective your teaching was and what could be improved next time. Reflection – no matter how uncomfortable it may feel – allows continuous expansion of your skills personally and professionally.
With this practice, you can become the best educator and advocate for the children in your care.
If you’re not including self-reflection as part of your daily practice, you can get started using the tools in this toolbox.
In this blog:
1. Make it a daily habit.
It helps to think of reflection as a form of daily professional development. You could do it during rest time or planning periods, or have scheduled sessions of reflection with other educators.
Use this process as a guide for your reflection:
- Ask yourself, “how effective was the teaching on students’ understanding and learning?”
- Spend a few minutes brainstorming new ways to improve the teaching quality
- Try it out next time you teach
2. Pay attention during teaching time.
Looking for the effect of your teaching on the children is paramount. But, you should also keep a close eye on any other influences around you. For instance, what are educators and staff doing? How are the children responding? Think about what happened before and after the teaching experience.
It’s important to be honest about what you notice. What are your thoughts, responses and behaviours that might be limiting the effectiveness of your teaching? The point isn’t to feel shame; you should focus on the excitement of improving your systems and becoming a more well-rounded, adventurous, and effective educator.
3. Upskill your reflection capacity.
To reflect and change effectively, you can seek out new ideas and methods from other expert sources. Attend early education conferences, listen to podcasts by experts, and search online for new ideas. Reading and listening to others can jump-start inspiration or stimulate an improvement to your current teaching practices.
You can also network with educators at other childcare centres for insight into their teaching practices. Social media groups can be useful for meeting with like-minded educators around Australia and getting feedback on your reflections.
4. Be willing to change.
Personal development also helps us move past obstacles in our quest to change. Mental or emotional roadblocks are normal, and you’ll bump up against them whenever you move outside your comfort zone. Engage in personal development outside of education; read and watch self-help experts who teach mindset breakthrough, goal-setting and affirming attitudes.
5. Write down your thoughts.
Have a notebook for your reflection notes, or make them part of your teaching plans. The point is to write down what you noticed, any strengths and weaknesses, and ideas for improvement. Keeping notes means you can go back and revise your ideas later. Plus, writing down your thoughts stimulates more creativity and inspiration during your reflection process.
6. Change your perspective.
One of the most effective methods for getting a well-rounded view of the effect of teaching on students is to think like one. If you were four-year-old Sarah, how would you have interpreted the instructions? Would you be engaged? What about if you were the child’s parent: would you feel satisfied with the outcome for your child?
You can also think about the variety of students in your care. Are there any who might find the teaching more difficult than others, or are in a demographic that would be disadvantaged?
Looking at your day and the individual lessons through a different lens can show details you might otherwise miss.
7. 12 simple reflective questions.
Here are some prompts to use for your reflective practice. Remember to always note why or why not when you’re asking yourself these questions.
- Do you feel the lesson was successful?
- Did all students benefit from the activity?
- Why did I choose to teach the activity that way?
- What evidence is there that students understood the teaching?
- Did students learn, or simply memorise the task or instructions?
- Were students excited to be in the class?
- What did you like about the lesson or task?
- Was my attitude toward the lesson conducive to effective teaching and learning?
- What did I dislike about the lesson or the content being taught?
- What new strategies can I use to help students engage with the lesson?
- How can I improve my approach to teaching the topic?
- What was special or remarkable about my teaching today?
Being educators with an attitude toward betterment serves the children in care, but also brings a fresh sense of curiosity and interest to you in your role. In turn, the quality of education is enriched, and confidence in the childcare industry continues to go from strength to strength.
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