One of the best pieces of advice given to me by my former senior pastor was to immediately reflect and take notes about projects or events. If you don’t do it immediately he said you would put it off and forget to do it and when it came time to holding a similar event or project you would often fail to learn from the successes and failures of the past. Well, it took me awhile to catch on, I had to learn myself I guess, but I’ve finally begun to apply this advice to my teaching and plan to do so more diligently this school year.
Reflection by the teacher is perhaps one of the most valuable tools of instruction, but probably seldom used. I find the best resource to use in my post-project reflection is the students. I often conclude a project by asking students what worked and what didn’t. I usually include these questions during a project as well, especially during those frustrating moments when they all seem to be having problems or questions. It can sometimes be difficult to elicit valuable responses from students, most likely because they aren’t used to being asked or answering this type of question from a teacher. Honest, reflective responses from students are vital in helping me adjust my instruction.
As a specials teacher I see 5 different grades each day, all with very different projects. To help myself keep track of which class is where, at the end of each day, and sometimes at the end of each class, I take a few minutes to make notes about progress, successes, failures, etc. This becomes an invaluable tool of reflection from day to day, week to week, and even year to year as it allows me to improve upon instruction as I learn from what does or doesn’t work. It’s an ongoing process, and there is always something new to learn or some minor tweaks to make to improve the project or instruction.