Reflective Practice

Reflective Practice

Reflective Practice

The Ideas of Stephen Brookfield

Extracts from:
Using the Lenses of Critically
Reflective Teaching in the Community
College Classroom
Stephen D. Brookfield

NEW DIRECTIONS FOR COMMUNITY COLLEGES, no. 118, Summer 2002 © Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
(Available thru Academic Search Premier and Wiley Science)

A frequently mentioned premise of reflective practice is that it helps teachers make more informed decisions (Valli, 1993; Calderhead and Gates, 1993; Brubacher, Case, and Reagan, 1994). If teachers are more reflective, the argument goes, they will be better placed to make good judgments about appropriate instructional approaches, accurate evaluative criteria, helpful curricular sequencing, and useful responses to group problems and other matters. Therefore, informed decision making can be considered the heart of good teaching. The literature on teacher thinking and decision making (Day, Calderhead, and Denicolo, 1993; Day, Pope, and Denicolo, 1990; Carlgren, Handal, and Vaage, 1994) supports this contention, emphasizing the importance of teachers checking their assumptions about good practice against the insights gleaned from colleagues. (p31)


Key Points:

  • Good teaching requires good decision-making.
  • (Critical) Reflection improves decision-making.
  • The literature on teacher decision-making emphasises the importance of checking assumptions about good-practice against the insights of informed others.
  • (Reflective Teachers = Reflective Practitioners.)
  • (Reflection is a form of Critical Thinking)


Exercise

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Teaching in a critically reflective way involves teachers trying to discover, and research, the assumptions that frame how they teach. In researching these assumptions, teachers have four complementary lenses through which they can view their practice; the lens of their own autobiographies as learners, the lens of students’ eyes, the lens of colleagues’ perceptions, and the lens of educational literature. Reviewing practice through these lenses helps surface the assumptions we hold about pedagogic methods, techniques, and approaches and the assumptions we make concerning the conditions that best foster student learning. (p32)

Key Points:

  • Reflective teaching involves discovering and researching one’s own assumptions.
  • Assumptions can be revealed and explored thru four lenses:
    • autobiographical writing
    • student feedback
    • discussion with colleagues
    • the literature.


Exercise

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...critical reflection also forces us to confront deeper assumptions concerning the submerged and unacknowledged power dynamics that infuse all practice settings. It also helps us detect hegemonic assumptions—assumptions that we think are in our own best interests but that actually work against us in the long term. (p32)

Key Points:

  • Reflective Teachers need to discover and research "hidden assumptions" about power relationships, social contexts etc.
  • Brookfield appears to define hegemonic assumptions as assumptions that we think are in our own best interests but that actually work against us in the long term.

Exercise

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As case studies of beginning and experienced teachers have shown (Bullough, Knowles, and Crow, 1992; Berman and others, 1991; Dollase, 1992), much of how teachers teach is in direct response to how they learned. They try to avoid reproducing the humiliations that they felt were visited upon them as learners and they seek to replicate the things their own teachers did that affirmed or inspired them. (p32)...

...Clearly, then, studying autobiographical experiences of learning can help explain to teachers why they gravitate to certain ways of working and instinctively turn away from others. (p33)

Key Points:

  • Teachers tend to adopt teaching techniques they liked as learners and avoid those they disliked.
  • Reflecting on learning experiences can reveal the assumptions about what constitutes good teaching.

Exercise

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