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Reflection During Classroom Instruction

By Mayflor Markusic

One of the newer concepts of effective teaching is reflection-in-action. That is, the teacher conducts reflection while teaching. Such reflection supposedly improves classroom instruction. How can teachers leverage this technique in class?

As the teacher is currently engaged in direct classroom teaching, the teacher is also conducting reflection activities. These activities are collectively called reflection-in-action. Essentially, the teacher constantly analyzes the ongoing teaching and learning processes and evaluates the effectiveness of a chosen teaching approach. Thus, if a certain teaching approach is deemed ineffective, the teacher can shift gears and use a different teaching approach while halfway through the classroom instruction.

Recommended Techniques

There are many techniques that the teacher can employ so that there is reflection-in-action during the classroom instruction. Some of them are described here.

  • Eye contact – The teacher engages in eye contact to determine if the students are reacting to and comprehending the topic. If the eyes have glazed over or if reaction is non-existent, it is best to assume that whatever teaching technique is being utilized, it is not effective. This is why teachers would rather have students frowning and struggling to understand than have students staring steadily at a blank space.

  • Divergent questions – These are questions that have varying answers. Essentially, there are no right or wrong answers with divergent questions. The teacher, as much as possible, must utilize divergent questions to obtain feedback from the students. Thus, instead of asking, “Did you understand?” the teacher may encourage the students to think critically by asking “Which do you think is the most important part of this topic?”

  • Observations – The students will be asked to provide one or two observations about the topic being discussed. If the observation of the students is linked to a real-life application of the concept, then the classroom instruction is effective. If the observation is off-tangent, then there might be a need for the teacher to change the teaching approach.

  • Summaries – These are very effective in determining the extent of the students’ comprehension of the topic. Summaries are normally asked at the later part of the classroom instruction. But with reflection-in-action, summaries can be asked at any time during the learning process and summaries can be asked as frequently as possible. The teacher may ask, “In one sentence, what do you think is the overall idea of this topic?”

Reflection-in-action, despite its description, is not a difficult task for teachers. With several well-placed questions, complemented by alertness on the part of the teacher, reflection-in-action can occur during classroom instruction.