Reflection’s Power in Educators

Module 1 – ISTE for Coaches Standard 4a: Collaborate with educators to develop authentic, active learning experiences that foster student agency, deepen content mastery, and allow students to demonstrate their competency.

For educators to develop this skill, a coach can help by giving them the space and time to reflect.  As a “catalyst” (from Dr. Foltos’ list on Thursday), reflective teaching is a way that coaches and educators can come together and interact with the content, the student responses, and teaching philosophy that captures educators where they are.

Teachers today are exhausted.  We are placed in the unknown so often that we do not know our own teaching style anymore. Prior to March of 2019, teachers were frustrated with the innumerable demands on their time; yet they – when asked – could articulate their strategies for teaching and classroom management.  Post the Covid Closure, we are unsure of almost everything.  My hesitancy to coach peers right now is that they have been stretched beyond their limits and to ask anything else of them – of me – seems cruel.

With that said, I know the power of reflection and therefore am an advocate for this discipline in an educator’s daily life.  My question, “How can a coach impart strategies for reflection when educators are pushed to their limits?”  I want to see how a coach can enable an educator’s capacity without adding to the demands of the profession.

One article I found regarding reflective teaching practices is by Ladyshewsy & Ryan.  These two gentlemen wrote an article in 2008 entitled, “Peer coaching and reflective practice in authentic business contexts: A strategy to enhance competency in post-graduate business student.”  While this is not addressing the educator in this situation, what drew me to the article was the word “competency” and “integrating with past experience and beliefs.”  Because we – the educators – have had to traverse so many learning environments, reflecting on the success of our past experiences, learning from what we’re going through, and projecting success in future situations will be so important.

Another study that has been conducted is Soisangwarn’s & Wongwanich’s 2014 “Promoting the reflective teacher through peer coaching to improve teaching skills” reason that not only does reflective practices enrich the classroom learning environment, but it also can “improve their professional learning” (Soisangwarn & Wongwanich, 2014).  They found that the practice of reflection created stronger communities of teachers (Soisangwarn & Wongwanich, 2014).  I appreciate that this study brings up the discussion of how reflection improves teachers’ ability to create a community of teacher-learners.  In this time of teaching during a pandemic and the demands in which Covid creates, finding like-minded teachers who are willing to overcome exhaustion and still learn from these new experiences.

Reflection is a key to teacher well-being; however, looking at teacher interventions only does so much. Again, due to the inordinate number of duties placed on educators, interventions – while seem like a good idea – only adds one more requirement for exhausted teachers.  If a system is attempting to enable an intervention, the authors of “Teacher stress interventions: A systematic review” encourage school systems to evaluate each method before enacting them (Embse et al., 2019). As Zeichner and Liston proclaim, “reflection is essential to becoming more skilled, more capable, and in general better teachers” (Zeichner & Liston, 2013) and as peer coaches, we can help promote its importance, even in the midst of a demanding school year.

References:

Embse, N., Ryan, S. V., Gibbs, T., & Mankin, A. (2019). Teacher stress interventions: A systematic review. Psychology in the Schools. https://doi.org/10.1002/pits.22279

Ladyshewsky, R., & Ryan, J. (2008). Peer Coaching and Reflective Practice in Authentic Business Contexts: A Strategy to Enhance Competency in Post-Graduate Business Student. In L. Tomei (Ed.), Online and Distance Learning: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications (pp. 2958-2967). IGI Global. http://doi:10.4018/978-1-59904-935-9.ch238

Soisangwarn, A., & Wongwanich, S. (2014). Promoting the reflective teacher through peer coaching to improve teaching skills. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 116, 2504–2511. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.01.601

Zeichner, K. M., & Liston, D. P. (2013). Reflective teaching: An introduction (2nd ed.). Routledge.

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