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Teaching Ideas: Self-Reflection

January 8, 2013

In preparation for my visits to their classes this week, Avi Gold and Maya Cabot self-reflected on what they were doing right now in their classes that they wanted me to observe: they were already in the process of observing their own classes, even before I could give them any feedback.

Self-reflection is a valuable path for all of us to keep improving as teachers. For example, Maya had two important questions about her teaching that she was working on: one, “How much time during group work am I spending with individual students? Am I spending too much time with particular students? How can I effectively deal with multiple students who need me/have questions?”

Her second question was: “Am I neutral with my responses to their answers? Does that work in discussion? How well am I building off wrong answers? How can I get them to talk more about their thinking process to their answer?”

Maya’s questions are not, obviously, specific to chemistry: they cut to the heart of all our disciplines. How we start to answer these vital questions immediately helps our students learn more effectively. Even asking the question to ourselves starts to change the way we teach. Being aware of the questions to ask initiates insights perhaps more than any ‘answer’ could. Asking such questions insures that our classes and teaching are dynamic and necessary, rather than routine or stagnant.

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