The Teacher's Self-Reflection
Tips as a starting point for one's own self-reflection as a teacher.
- Pedagogy and Didactics
Since the 1990s, the "reflective practitioner" (Schoen 1997), who examines their own practice to improve it, has received much attention in research on the development of professional competence. However, there are different forms of reflection on one's own practice. The question is what improvement of one's own practice entails: Streamlining goal achievement or finding good solutions for ethically challenging issues?
"Complex pedagogical questions seldom have secure answers. Therefore, school staff must have the acceptance and space to use their judgment in professional practice. Teachers must carefully consider what, how, and why students learn, and how they can best guide and support students' learning, development, and formation. Teachers who collectively reflect on and evaluate the planning and implementation of teaching develop a richer understanding of good pedagogical practice." (Core curriculum, 3.5.)
Sævi (2013) writes: "Pedagogy is not only concerned with formulating educational goals but also with the justifications and morals that the goals express. A moral and democratic intention behind the goals includes pedagogical considerations of whether the actions the goals demand are good and right."
The "reflective practitioner" must, therefore, be able to take a step back and put their own practice into perspective. The criteria for success or failure and for future changes must be seen in light of "the moral and democratic intention behind education," as stated in the purpose clause and concretized in the overarching section.
We have gathered some perspectives and methods that can help you get started and establish a reflective practice around your own professional work.
Reflecting on the institutional and societal context
The school's values are about democracy and equality, but it is not solely up to the individual teacher to live up to these values. There are many factors the individual has no control over. Regarding prejudices and discrimination, this applies to cultural interpretation patterns, as well as structures of power and privileges that reproduce prejudices and discrimination. The teacher must, therefore, critically reflect on the context within which he or she operates.
Neither the school nor the individual teacher operates in a vacuum. Events and ongoing debates at the societal level (locally, nationally, internationally) affect the school's everyday life. The individual teacher is also a participant in society. Thinking about which topics students might be particularly interested in can help the teacher make connections between subject teaching and these topics. This makes teaching more relevant to students. However, such current social issues can be sensitive and controversial. The teacher needs to be aware of this and develop good tools to establish a nuanced and well-informed dialogue.
“Thinking about which topics students might be particularly interested in can help the teacher make connections between subject teaching and these topics. This makes teaching more relevant to students.
School's societal mandate can also be in tension with established frameworks and practices in the school. Here are some questions that can help initiate processes of awareness and change.
- Do the rules and routines at my school systematically place some groups of students in a weaker or more vulnerable position? Do they deprive some of the opportunity for equal participation?
- What would I like to change?
- What can I change? Where have I succeeded in contributing to change?
- Who are my allies?
There are no simple answers to what is the right action and wise decisions on the part of the teacher, but these questions are important to reflect on to effect change over time.
Tip: Core curriculum as a basis for reflection on one's own practice
The core curriculum provides some very concrete guidelines on how the teacher and the entire school should facilitate students' experiences of belonging, mastery, and empowerment. In connection with the school's preventive work, the following parts are particularly important:
- Part 1.6 Democracy and participation,
- Part 2.1 Social learning and development
- Part 3.1 An inclusive learning environment.
The text in the core curriculum can be reformulated into specific questions to put one's own practice into perspective, which can help uncover blind spots and inspire new thinking around one's own practice.
"Students should experience being listened to in their everyday school life, that they have real influence, and that they can influence matters that concern them." (1.6.)
- What do I do to give students an experience of being listened to, even in situations where I reprimand or enforce the school's rules?
- In a specific situation, have I listened and expressed that?
- How can I give students real influence and the ability to influence matters that concern them in their everyday school life?
- What can contribute to limiting students' influence and ability to influence more than necessary?
Berg, K. (2016). Med forskerblikk på læreres praksisrefleksjoner. I: A.-L. Østern & G. Engvik (red). Veiledningspraksiser i bevegelse. Skole, utdanning og kulturliv. s. 253-264, Fagbokforlaget.
Larrivee, B. (2000). Transforming teaching practice: Becoming the critically reflective teacher. Reflective Practice 1(3). 293-307.