February 28, 2014

Take your time to reflect

Using reflection promotes an atmosphere that raises achievement and encourages quality in all aspect of schoolwork. In order to be effective the teacher needs to be self-reflective and confident. She/he needs to be able to model what she expects in the pupils. Authenticity is so important here as the pupils will spot inconsistencies. Being real and accepting that none of us is perfect is important to share with the pupils.
The teacher should also be a good listener, should respect pupils and develop positive relationships with each one. Socratic questioning, using questioning to enable pupils to develop their thinking, is also a key teaching skill that bridges the gap between what a pupil needs to know and then understands.

Reflection aids the development of good relationships between pupils and between adults and pupils. It promotes the climate for pupils to take responsibility for their learning. The teacher's responsibility is to focus on developing an attitude of mind in the pupil that encourages them to take responsibility. Pupils, as do staff, need positive affirmation. The ideal atmosphere in the classroom supports the notion that teacher and pupil are joint partners in the learning process. This attitude creates a feeling of equal respect and a relationship of working together.

Teachers are most effective when they are giving pupils appropriate questions to consider that extend their thinking. Sufficient time to reflect on teacher questions before being required to answer is so very important in discursive lessons. If not given, the pupil searches for a quick answer that will satisfy the teacher. If the answer is incorrect, then the teacher is likely to ask another simpler question, and so on, until the pupil answers a question correctly. This practice is of limited value in helping the pupil to develop appropriate reflective thinking skills. Reflection gives the pupil times to practice being aware of their thoughts and through this awareness develop both depth and quality. I commend the remarks of the pupils in Years 4 and 11 who give their views about reflection.

Please remember to start with yourself for the more that you are calm and reflective the more the pupils will be too!

Neil Hawkes
Senior Adviser

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